[FoRK] And we shall turn their own tools against them...

Geege geege4 at bellsouth.net
Sun Mar 14 20:52:42 PST 2004

eric umansky (slate's todays papers) clued the world about this on thursday.
he sorta suggested his readers DO something. 8-)

-----Original Message-----
From: fork-bounces at xent.com [mailto:fork-bounces at xent.com]On Behalf Of
jbone at place.org
Sent: Sunday, March 14, 2004 11:16 PM
To: FoRK
Subject: [FoRK] And we shall turn their own tools against them...


Brief aside:  I was on a panel w/ Ana Marie way back when at a
Bionomics conference years back --- smart chica, but I didn't know she
was this funny.  This is too freakin' good for words.  Gonna have to
seek out her blog, now.  You go, girl!



Bush Site Unplugs Poster Tool
By Chris Ulbrich

Story location: http://www.wired.com/news/politics/0,1283,62643,00.html

10:37 AM Mar. 12, 2004 PT

The Bush-Cheney presidential campaign disabled features of a tool on
its website Thursday that pranksters were using to mock the Republican
presidential ticket.

The tool originally let users generate a full-size campaign poster in
PDF format, customized with a short slogan of their choice. But Bush
critics began using the site to place their own snarky political
messages above a Bush-Cheney '04 logo and a disclaimer stating that the
poster was paid for by Bush-Cheney '04, Inc.

The campaign changed the tool Thursday so that users could no longer
enter their own messages, but only select from a pull-down list of
states and coalition groups. The campaign didn't respond to requests
for comment.

The poster tool has been up and running since December, but Ana Marie
Cox, editor of the Washington political gossip blog Wonkette, turned it
into a weapon of mass satire this week when she devoted several posts
to the inner workings of the device she dubbed the "Sloganator."

At Cox's request, close to 200 Wonkette readers sent in slogans which
they had slipped through the system. Among them: "Run for your lives,"
"They sure smell like old people," and the Orwellian, "A boot stomping
on a human face forever."

Cox also published lists of words the tool was allowing and, perhaps
more tellingly, those it was not. Not surprisingly, it rejected the
usual four-letter words and sexual lingo, but it also banned more
innocuous terms like "stupid," "evil," "terrorists" and "Iraq."

Chuck DeFeo, the electronic campaign manager for the Bush-Cheney
campaign, declined to say how the campaign was filtering user input.
"We are taking significant precautions to prevent the use of offensive
materials on the GeorgeWBush.com website," he said.

But despite the campaign's efforts, several Wonkette readers reported
that the generator was occasionally routing slogans to the wrong users.
One reported entering a sexually outrageous slogan and getting back a
poster reading "Sportsmen for Bush-Cheney 2004," raising the
possibility that somewhere in America a bewildered GOP duck hunter was
wondering what on earth was going on with his party.

DeFeo said he was not aware that any slogans were being misrouted, but
said that the more obscene slogans were indicative of a certain tone in
the discourse of some Bush-Cheney opponents.

"Their action says a lot about people who are 100 percent committed to
using profane and vulgar language in place of substantive dialog on the
important issues facing America today," he said.

Cox scoffed. "No one's going to have a substantive dialog of any kind
on a poster," she said. Besides, she argued, many of the humorous
slogans were more thoughtful than anything the tool was designed to

She cited her own slogan, which she admitted was one of her favorites:
"But not if you're gay!"

"'But not if you're gay!' has more intellectual weight behind it and
says more about the Bush campaign than 'Ohioans for Bush' or 'Hunters
for Bush,'" she said.

Cox, who counts herself neither a Bush nor a Kerry supporter, admitted
that it would be a trivial matter to mock up the same posters in
Photoshop. The attraction, she said, was somewhat childish.

"If someone made up a bunch of posters and did them on Photoshop no one
would care. It's the juvenile glee of having the campaign be the ones
to do it," she said. "But just because it's juvenile doesn't mean it's
wrong and doesn't mean that it's not an expression of some kind of
legitimate political grievance and opinion."

She read from a recent submission: "'Five hundred dead soldiers support
Bush-Cheney '04.' See? Substantive political debate. That is an
incredibly powerful political message. It may not be a discussion, but
posters rarely are."

End of story

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