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The Bermuda Sun profiled the online personas of many of our local politicians recently, while Malcolm Gladwell wrote a hotly debated article entitled "Small Change: Why the revolution will not be tweeted".

I've been online in one form or another in a political context since 2003 with this blog, Twitter and Facebook, although I don't really use the latter two for much political discussion. But I'm with Gladwell.

The platforms of social media are built around weak ties. Twitter is a way of following (or being followed by) people you may never have met. Facebook is a tool for efficiently managing your acquaintances, for keeping up with the people you would not otherwise be able to stay in touch with. That's why you can have a thousand "friends" on Facebook, as you never could in real life.

This is in many ways a wonderful thing. There is strength in weak ties, as the sociologist Mark Granovetter has observed. Our acquaintances--not our friends--are our greatest source of new ideas and information. The Internet lets us exploit the power of these kinds of distant connections with marvellous efficiency. It's terrific at the diffusion of innovation, interdisciplinary collaboration, seamlessly matching up buyers and sellers, and the logistical functions of the dating world. But weak ties seldom lead to high-risk activism.

I'm not convinced that social networking is particularly effective as a tool of social activism. I think it's a largely passive activity, which is complimentary to social/political movements but by no means critical.

In the Bermuda context I think this is absolutely the case. This is a small retail politics environment, and social media is largely about fostering weak ties.

That's not to say there is no value, but I'm more and more convinced that politically astute Bermudians need to come out from behind their keyboards and start fostering stronger ties and more direct relationships than online social media.

I include myself in that.

Bermuda has a desperate need for more direct, active participation than Facebook, Twitter, blogs, forums (which are different than blogs) and radio talk shows.

Bermuda suffers from too much talk, not enough action.

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The Bermuda First website is now offline after a reader pointed out to me that the draft site was up last night.

The site looks quite promising from a design and function perspective, much more so than gov.bm which is an elaborate brochure.

There needs to be a non-partisan gatekeeper to keep the partisan attacks out of it however. Populating it with a laundry list of party propaganda isn't the way to go.

This was pitched as a non-partisan fact gathering exercise and it should remain that way.

Hopefully when it relaunches they will have stripped out the PLP attack pieces masquerading as opinion.

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Brace yourself, the PLP's election-time-crazy-with-dishonest-spin blog is back. (The dormant website has been creaking back to life since the elitism criticism started. The first change was to the restart the slideshow on the site's main page with their candidates posing for photos with the public).

See. We're not elitist. We have photos to prove it.

It's starting to feel like the election never ended and was just a short chapter of the Brown soap opera.

A reader writes:

Speaking of spin, in the "The Blog is Back" post leading with "We're back and we're better than ever", the PLP blog announces today that: "We put Bermudians first by making sure that all Bermudian families will have access to free, high quality day care."

and

"Thanks to your PLP government, all Bermudian parents will be able to send their kids to free, high quality day care"

(note , ALL)

But the announcement a few days ago from the House is that "MPs passed a bill yesterday to pay child care bills for families or single parents earning under $70,000 a year"

Sigh indeed.

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The Bermuda Sun has launched a new Bermuda Sports Blog: Talk Sport.

As Sports are generating plenty of attention lately, and interact with all sorts of social and political issues, it could turn out to be a lively site.

Enjoy.

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The suspended Police Officer/blogger story found its way into the print media today, with both the Gazette and The Bermuda Sun covering it.

I think, notwithstanding the accuracy or inaccuracy of his comments, the now-removed post which has resulted in his suspension was bound to cause problems for the reasons highlighted in the Sun's article:

In the article, Mr. Palmer, who is originally from St. Vincent, claims there is a strong Barbadian faction within the BPS, which is known by serving officers as the BM, or "Barbadian Mafia."

Mr. Palmer claims that the BM holds the balance of power within the force and makes some serious allegations about its conduct. He goes on to name a superior officer who he believes controls the BM.


and

However, sources told the Bermuda Sun that among the rank-and-file, few have qualms about Mr. Palmer's suspension. Originally, many officers were sympathetic of Mr. Palmer's attempts to bring more transparency to the BPS. However, most believe he went too far by naming individuals.

It goes without saying that calling superior officers part of a "Barbadian mafia" is going to cause a problem and result in some sanction.

Every police officer knows that you can't comment publicly on internal matters. I'm sure PC Palmer knew that, so I can only guess that he was willing to deal with the consequences, or was perhaps inviting them.

Most employers, whether the Police or corporate, aren't going to take too kindly to their employees airing the dirty laundry and internal politics in public.

A Police blog would be very helpful, particularly if challenging the constant political spin, however it's probably safest done with anonymity.

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Police Officer and blogger Allan Palmer, who helpfully pointed out the fudged crime statistics, to subsequently remove that post under pressure, and follow up that post about some internal pressure that was being applied, has today posted that he is on suspension:

By now the world should know that I am on suspension from the Bermuda Police Service, pending the outcome of an investigation which was initiated, after I posted the last article on this blog. That article was posted as a last minute ditch to abort a devious plans which was orchestrated and initiated for my demised [sic]. To ensure that my character and integrity was bring [sic] into disrepute. It was also in defense of my parent’s [sic] legacy. I will explain later.

As I said previously, PC Palmer was breaking new ground as a serving Police Officer with a blog, as officers are prohibited from speaking in the media (ie. interviews, Letters to the Editor etc.), and it appears this is now being tested with new media.

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A new blog is out:

Bermuda Longtail

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Well, The Limey has wound things up (not surprising) and Denis over at 21 Square is unsure of whether he'll continue. In the words of Bill Clinton, "I feel your pain".

Phil at Limey never really came back with any gusto during the election run-up and his heart seemed half in it.

Blogging actively is very time consuming and with such a frenzy of activity in 2007 with leadership challenges, BHC leaks, libel suits and an election, I think the active bloggers were exhausted by year end. I know I was.

After that, particularly with the holidays, there is bound to be a time for recharging and refocusing or reassessing.

Some might feel that the election was a heavy defeat for the UBP, and some would argue reality based politics. I think that's true but only to a point.

The seat distribution of 22-14 presents a picture of a much bigger win for the PLP than occurred. Dr. Brown really only managed to replicate what Jennifer Smith managed (twice), so he really didn't bring anything to the table, other than perhaps preventing a loss of support that was anticipated by many; he managed to hold things steady seat-wise though a small popular vote increase.

The UBP still represent almost half of the island by popular vote, although their voice in Parliament is far less than that.

But what is more interesting about the election outcome is what is suggests about the future prospects for the UBP, because they have appear to hit a brick wall.

As they are prone to do they're methodically working through the issues and implications of the last election internally, and I believe will make the decision that needs to be made.

I know what I think, which is pretty much in line with what Phil said in his farewell post, and other commentators have said:

[T]he only people who can criticise today's PLP government are other members of the PLP. Anyone else should expect to have their criticisms met with an ad hominem attack, not with a reasoned rebuttal.

If you're white, you will be accused of being a racist. If you're black, you will be accused of being a race traitor. If you're a non-Bermudian, you will be told to keep your mouth shut and go back to the country you came from. If you're a journalist, you'll be accused of being in league with the UBP. If you're in the UBP, you'll be accused of wanting to take the country back to the days of segregation, or even slavery.

I have no desire to participate in such a dysfunctional system any longer. Indeed, I've come to believe that by continuing to criticise the government, I will only make things worse.

I think he's correct. Those who have been vocal critics of the PLP do need to sort of take a back seat for awhile. Sadly it is mostly because of their race, but that's the reality of Bermuda right now.

Whites also I think need to recognise that if a new organisation is born out of the 2007 election it needs to be black conceived, created and controlled. (And there are lots of black Bermudians who would welcome another political choice without the stigma of 'UBP' on it - whether a deserved stigma or not).

If whites have a dominant role (or perhaps any role) it will be seen as illegitimate.

So on that basis I think the UBP's time is limited, and that a new entity will eventually arise, although the UBP needs to persist for awhile to allow a new organisation to be created that doesn't just see UBP support flow right over to it.

Because let's be real, the PLP's racist election campaign has ensured that white voters will not join that party in any meaningful numbers, but will instead feel disenfranchised for awhile.

Whites (and I really hate talking 'whites' and 'blacks') need to take a back seat politically for awhile, and by 'awhile' I mean at least one election cycle.

Regardless, the election has created the first real opportunity for another viable political entity to be created. Single seat constituencies killed any prospects for a third party or independents, but the 2007 election result has opened a window.

In the short term I think we'll see three political entities (and I have no insight or involvement whatsoever in starting something new - nor will I for the reasons I stated above).

On a personal note, I must admit that I'm not particularly motivated to write right now, although my brain continues to refuse to take a break; but I don't feel like spending long hours in front of a computer screen hashing out issue after issue.

I'm marginally interested in the local news. Mostly I'm enjoying being a consumer of news, analysis and opinion with the US campaign and also catching up on some good books and movies.

This site will continue on. As I've said before, I have some ideas for new directions to take Politics.bm, but in the meantime things will be relatively low-key here while I enjoy some other interests and then retool things a little.

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There's a couple of new blogs on the scene, which I've added to my Daily Reads sidebar (which I need to pay more attention to as I have discovered people actually use/follow those links).

Firstly, there's Breezeblog (which is actually new-ish) by Chris Gibbons.

And just launched a couple of days ago is A Radical in Bermuda, written by a far left-winger, but a true left winger. I imagine this will be a good and thoughtful read.

Take this post today:

This is going out to all my fellow Bermudians, it is a call for us to be ever vigilante of our government and the ways in which we slip into tyranny. The Premier's post election decision to half the number of women in his cabinet and senate appointments, his dissolving then reforming of the Ministry of Justice, the racial insensitivity by members of his party, both in parliament and outside, the xenophobia of many members of his party, including cabinet level appointees, and now from what I have heard, the formation of cliques within the party that adhere to the worst forms of Christian fundamentalism (a certain one of these cliques would seem to be quite powerful, though I will not name names for safeties sake) and male chauvinism are dangerous signs of where this wonderful island of ours could be headed.

Well yes, the current leadership and direction of the Progressive Labour Party is neither Progressive nor Labour. But that's obvious to any reasonable observer.

It is a fraud.

"Progressive" and "Labour" have been made synonymous with 'Black' and are being used as cover for some seriously bad policy under the shield of 'blackness'.

But it's a recently-validated-at-the-polls fraud, so things will get worse before they get better.

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It was very inconsiderate to call an election at peak reinsurance renewal season, so I'm going to be partaking in a study in sleep deprivation for the next several months. Let me know when I become truly incoherent.

But I suppose I can't complain, it's the most wonderful time of the year; elections and reinsurance renewal season are great fun for nerds like me.

So, I'll be producing as much content as I can here, but I wanted to remind readers of the other Bermuda sites in my Daily Reads links over at the left hand side (which includes a couple of non-Bermuda blogs).

In particular I've been enjoying:

Vexed Bermoothes, New Onion and 21 Square, as well as old favourite Limey in Bermuda who's back for more punishment.

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The Limey in Bermuda has returned, for now at least.

No comments this time though. Smart move.

Welcome back Phil. Watch your back.

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There's a new Bermuda forum called:

Bermuda Is Another World

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There's a new Bermuda blog out there Vexed Bermoothes.

So far so good. It's singing a similar song to me, but with far less sarcasm and attitude!

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There's a new blog out by Mike Hind (aka Uncle Elvis) called The Devil Island.

It looks so good that it reminds me that I don't have an artistic bone in my body.

Enjoy.

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