So, I’ve been a little bit quiet over the whole Barcamp transparency thing in recent months for one reason or another – but not because nothing has been happening!

As the UK enters into an election year, and with legislation such as the infamous Digital Economy Bill being rushed through parliament, and all parties promising to clean up politics, 2010 looks to be an exciting year for transparency related issues.

I am therefore delighted to confirm that Barcamp Transparency will be happening again later this year, with more speakers, more interesting conversations and more beer afterwards!

Transparency isn’t just a hot topic in the UK of course, so we are currently actively putting together plans for holding similar events elsewhere in the world.  If you would be interested in helping out, please get in touch!

Finally, it has come to light from the conversations that we have been having that there is a need for an online community space to help organise these events and let people from around the world discuss and collaborate on transparency related issues.

Therefore, I am delighted to say that we are currently putting this together and that Ben Werdmuller (of Elgg fame) has agreed to become our Community Manager!

Get in touch and let us know what you want to see in the future!

So, I was reflecting on my last post about the Libdems by having a little nose around the internet to remind myself of what they have out there policy wise.

The thing that really irritates me about the Liberal democrats is that when you dig you discover that their policies are actually pretty reasonable. You have their standard policies, but you also have things like the Freedom Bill (which I have just re-read and my only complaint is that it doesn’t go far enough) and the new Take back power campaign.

Unfortunately it seems to be that they drop the ball when it comes to pushing this message out to people who aren’t necessarily actually looking for it – i.e. those who really need to know.

It also seems to be somewhat uncoordinated – lots of disparate messages with no coherent strategy or label making it obvious that it is the Liberal democrats who are responsible.

There is a marketing truism which goes something like you have to see a message through several different mediums for it to stick. The Obama campaign shows what you can do if you try – high exposure using free or near free media which turned their message into a coherent brand which connected with people on an emotional level.

The Libdems do some things reasonably well. Their web site is comprehensive and they’re using twitter (albeit primarily as a press release mechanism), they have an image gallery (which is hard to find and has no mention of copyright).  Unfortunately they seem to fail when getting the basics right – for example I attempted to find a web button for the take back power campaign, and when I eventually found a link for the page it returned a 404.

It seems as though all the pieces are there, but it hasn’t been put together into a coherent and easily accessible message.

What is more, they really need to be pushing their message our in print and on TV. Going out and talking people… in other words, campaigning. The internet isn’t all that there is.

With only a few months left until the election we have precious little time to change this country’s direction. So assuming that the Libdems are the true to their word (and even if they are fibbing about half of it, they certainly seem to be better than the alternatives), what can we do to help them?

It is now 2010, and for those living in the UK it is also an election year.

Both Labour and Tory seem to be indistinguishable at this point, making the choice at the ballet paper a choice of which way you want to be screwed. It seems clear that both Tory and Labour seem to want to lock us into an authoritarian statist and high tax agenda for another 5 years at least.

David Cameron is so sure of his position that instead of engaging on issues or attacking Gordon Brown on his  policy failures (of which there are many) that he resorts to childish name-calling rather than entering into a real debate.

The Tories started making some good noises early in the campaign about individual liberty and transparency, and they have pledged to scrap the ID card. However, they intend to continue Labour’s authoritarian policies and (among many other things) plan to scrap the human rights act and further centralise powers into the executive.

Labour’s record on the other hand is well known – did ok in the first term, but chronic overspending on insane projects has left us with a shattered economy which tax payers are going to be working hard to repair for years to come (and there’s the small matter of that pesky illegal war).

With (politically inclined) voters crying out for an alternative, and while we still have a system of party politics, my question is simple – where on earth are the Liberal Democrats and what do they stand for?