With only a bit more than a week to the German Bundestagswahl (federal elections), it’s time for a brief recap of the (supposedly viral) videos that have popped up over the last few weeks. Take this post as a starting point as it’s most certainly far from incomplete as of yet. Also, please take into consideration that very likely I saw more of these videos from one side of the political spectrum than the other.
The theme tying these videos together is basically: Every vote counts, so go vote, or you support some non-candidate or another.
Time permitting, I’ll be adding more videos as they’re coming in. Please let me know of others if you know them. Also, thanks to Thomas for a first collection. (I’m still thinking of putting all the US versions right next to them. Could be good fun.)
All of them are looking the same. In the Imperial Army that’s probably good. In political campaigning, not so much.
Now here I’m in a bit of a dilemma. Check out this German knock-off version of the Don’t Vote video. (Both versions at the end of this post.)
On one hand, I’m always glad about anything that encourages folks to vote. I’m very politically interested, I supported a much-talked about recent online petition (see my blog posts), signed a class-action lawsuit against data retention, interned at – and later briefly worked as an editor for – German online politics magazine and think tank politik-digital.de, did all kinds of stuff, mostly outside party politics. These days (disclaimer!) I’m an adviser to the youth online campaign of the SPD, more concretely Jusos.
All that to say: I really appreciate any effort whatsoever that individuals, and organizations of any kind take to get more people to vote, because I think political action in general and voting in particular is incredibly important.
But. And it’s a big but. But on the other hand, the German internet scene has long since gotten the reputation of just copying U.S. web services. (I’m looking at you, StudiVZ, but not only at you, there’s many more cases just as blatant as that.) And in this sense, there’s this video here, called “geh nicht hin”, which translates into “don’t go there”, referring to the federal elections on 27 Sept.
The video is done, I’m sure, with the best of intentions. Produced, as far as I can tell, by probono.tv, a well-respected TV production company, and politik-digital.de, the very online politics magazine I used to work for and that I highly respect. The whole thing was done, in other words, by the good guys.
Now here I am, as I said, in a bit of a dilemma. It’s a good video, it’s a great idea, it’s smart, and it supports a cause I also support. But it’s a direct, 1:1 copy, a total knock-off. And to make matters worse, it’s a direct knock-off of the U.S. elections. Campaigners Germany-wide have talked for a long time about how Obama campaign blueprints can be adapted to the German elections. (I don’t think they can.) It’s become almost a joke: “Well, let’s do it like Obama!” But here we are, different country, different political system, different parties, candidates, issues. Different campaigning system even.
Still, this video just copies this American video (which I found pretty good), and just translates it. Which makes it look rather sad. And sure, you could argue that people here haven’t seen it and that a good adaption of an idea can still be valid, and that’s true. But this left me with a bit of a bitter taste.
(The website gehnichthin.de is showing a technical error message while I’m writing this, but the video is visible there.) Update (29 July): gehnichthin.de is live and working now.
So here’s the two videos. Top: German version “geh nicht hin”. Bottom: U.S. version “don’t vote”.
Much more funny, by the way, is this video response by German bloggers. It translates to: “don’t go outside!”, poking fun at the cliché of geeks hiding behind their computers and avoiding the outside world:
CeBIT 2009 is over, so it’s time to see what worked and what could be done better. Also, there’s a few videos in case you want to see some panels I moderated.
Since CeBIT has been losing some of its importance of the the last few years, with most tech news being available elsewhere before the actual fair, it was time for a new concept to stay relevant in web- and cloud-based times. WebCiety was a try to do just that, to bring the web back to CeBIT. Turns out that although the area was very small, and the booths could have been somewhat nicer (it was all very dark and pretty compact), WebCiety succeeded in bringing all the web folks together. The Web 2.0 crowd gathered here both for the panels and because it’s just simpler to have a home base where you know you meet everybody else. As one participant put it: “I walked through four halls and met nobody I knew. Since I entered the WebCiety area I’ve met a lot of folks just here and then.” So the social part worked out pretty well. (One could argue that it’s all a bit self-referential, but hey, this is the social web, right?)
The rest of the fair was, to be honest, somewhat disappointing. Over are the days where I’d go explore CeBIT voluntarily in my spare time. Maybe that was just a student thing to do anyway, but I suspect there’s more to it. Since you can see all the gadgets in blogs and magazines way earlier, it doesn’t seem worth the extra time and effort to go to CeBIT just to try it out briefly while squeezing into a crowd of people.
What was quite fun, though, was moderation the Open Space / panel discussion together with Steffen Büffel. It was part of the Dresden Future Forum, and we invited a bunch of cool folks to talk about life, work and culture on the web. Since the whole thing was streamed and recorded, here’s the videos. (They’re in German.) You can see these and more WebCiety videos combined with the discussions on the Twitter wall over at zaplive.tv. Thanks to all the panelists, the audience and those who contributed via Twitter wall.
Panel on digital life and work (German, about 3h):
Panel on art and culture on the web (German, about 1:30h):