R. Fink | The Packet Rat: Politicians getting the worst of their new media experiences

The Rat

Michael J. Bechetti

Every now and then, the worlds of pop culture, technology and politics combine to create a perfect storm of stupidity. And the Rat figures that this fall, the stupid is going to be three feet deep and blowing at hurricane force.

'Submitted for your approval: a congressman who has created Washington's first official instant messaging scandal,' the whiskered one said to his spouse in his best Rod Serling style.

'Add a search company acquiring a viral video site, and the snark of the blogosphere, and mix liberally with midterm elections. Stand back and wait for the whole mess to explode like a North Korean weapons test.'

Let's go to the videotape

There's already been some YouTube blowback elsewhere in the political world.

Sen. George Allen got caught on tape'and on millions of computer screens'calling a college student of Indian ancestry a 'macaca' (from a Bantu word meaning 'monkey').
Then there's Democrat/Independent Sen. Joseph Lieberman, who was pursued relentlessly by a YouTube video blogger who goes by the moniker 'Connecticut Bob.'
And Lieberman also has been hounded by video from the State of the Union Address, when he apparently kissed President Bush on the cheek'which has been co-opted into viral videos lampooning him that have gotten hundreds of thousands of views on YouTube, recently acquired by Google Inc. for $1.6 billion in stock.

'It's just a matter of time before everyone in Congress has been caught doing something stupid on video, or edited into a compromising scene,' the wirebiter opined. 'They'll be using it against each other, and then it'll get out of control, and then nobody will trust anyone in Congress. And it will be all the fault of those Web 2.0 weasels.'

'I think that Congress can do that without the help of viral videos, dear,' Mrs. Rat said soothingly. 'Maybe you should go write some code to relax.'

The whiskered one is a little sensitive these days about the whole Web 2.0 thing'ever since he found out that the founders of Digg got another $1 million in venture capital for an online video production company.

Revision3, the production company of Digg founders Kevin Rose and Jay Adelson, is known mostly for its video podcast, 'Digg Nation,' a show in which Rose and former TechTV star Alan Albrecht drink beer and discuss the hottest stories on the Digg news site.

'I'm telling you, dear,' the cyberrodent said. 'If we lived in Silicon Valley, I'd be raking it in as a podcast and blogging star, and I'd have venture capitalists lining up to finance my push toward Web hegemony. But the problem is, they're all there in Silicon Valley and we live in a place where Web exposure means ABC just found out you've been propositioning teenage Capitol pages on the Internet.'

'I mean, I do that drinking and ranting about the news all the time'at work in the break room, albeit with coffee,' the Rat raged as he watched the latest Digg Nation podcast. 'And they don't even have my looks.'
'Or your fur,' his wife said with a smile.

The Packet Rat once managed networks but now spends his time ferreting out bad packets in cyberspace. E-mail him at [email protected].


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