Thursday, October 02, 2008

Voting? Turn to the Web

If you hadn’t heard yet, there’s an election coming up.

I’ve not fully decided who I’m going to vote for, for President, anyway. I’m getting close, but I tend to hold off on announcements. The candidates aren’t exactly fighting over my endorsement anyway. Even if they were, that’s not the focus of this article. This is all about how I’ve been arriving at my conclusions.

I’ve been frustrated, both this season and in elections past that the mainstream media (television, press, etc…) seems to be interested less and less in issues and plans, and more and more in reporting on the foibles and name-calling of the candidates. As an avid follower of “the new media”, I’ve been reading a lot of blogs and twitter tweets. Much of those, also, are more interested in pointing out why their chosen ‘date is the best and why the other should go away and crawl into a deep dark hole. Very few seem to point out anything of real substance.

And the candidates themselves seem to revel more in short sound-bites and one-liners (mixed in with the frequent barbs at the opponent), rather than actually spelling out their plans.

There’s actually a good reason for this. That’s what the public is asking for! We tend to catch up on what’s going on by watching 2-3 minute short reports on the morning shows, and skimming the headlines and the first paragraphs of the newspapers. Television producers edit down campaign speeches, given in front of throngs of cheering admirers, and pull out the most clever, the most inflammatory, and the most exciting five to ten seconds of the hour-long speech. It ends up being little more than watching a minister preach to the choir.

There’s a segment of both the populace and the punditry that have been decrying this trend. “Don’t just criticize the current administration! Don’t just try and make us afraid of your opponent! Tell us what you’ll do differently!” they call out.

That’s where the web comes in. I decided, last night, that I was also sick of the shallowness of the campaign so far, and began to research the candidates in earnest. I started visiting their websites and reading their positions on issues of interest to me. I wanted to make an informed decision. Here’s the steps you should go through to do your homework before election day.

1. Make a List

Of all the things that all the ‘dates argue about, which ones matter to you? The war in Iraq? The economy? Education?

2. Prioritize

Of all those topics, which ones are really the most important to you? Are any of them deal-breakers in your mind? As you’re setting them in order, also jot down notes about how you feel the government should deal with each of those issues.

3. Check Who’s the Strongest on Your Highest Priorities

Then, hit the candidate’s websites. I’ve listed them in reference below. Check them out and see which ones most closely match your stand, your values, your beliefs in your most important areas. Keep in mind no one candidate is likely to match your views on all the issues. You want to pick the one that matches your views the most closely on the most critical issues.

That’s who you should vote for.

Remember that the things you read on these sites are campaign promises. Once the candidate is in office, he/she will have lots of pressures to adapt to. Keep in mind that neither candidate is in office yet, and so neither one is privy to information that they will receive upon entry to the white house. Also, they will have to deal with congress debating and voting on everything they say they will “fight for”.

You never know exactly what will happen. Even still, voting, and casting an educated ballot, is a privilege many of us take for granted.

In Alphabetical Order:

Chuck Baldwin - Constitution
Bob Barr Libertarian -
John McCain - Republican
Cynthia McKinney - Green
Ralph Nader - (Independent)
Barack Obama - Democrat

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Why I Blog

At the end of this month, Mo’ Boy turns 6 years old. To clarify: Mo’ Boy is a blog I started in October of 2002, and have continued, with more or less regularity, to this day.

Now, there are blogs in the bloggosphere which are older, and longer running. But there are a whopping lot more that have come and gone in the intervening six years. My blog still continues.

Back then, I had only heard of blogging. I’d been reading about it as the buzz on the ‘net circles was just starting. I didn’t really understand it yet, though. Still, I looked into it, and started reading and following some blogs. It wasn’t long before I realized that I could use this to promote my music website.

I thought about my audience, and about what they would like to read, and started writing. Now, many years later, I find myself re-reading some of those early postings and smiling. I think back on how I felt, and who I was when I wrote those words. I reflect on the changes that have happened in the world and in myself. I notice the many things that have not really changed in six years, either.

I sit here thinking about why I do it all. Why I blog. I came up with some good reasons.

• I can learn

A lot of the time I spend with blogs is not spent with my own. I’m constantly reading and following other people’s blogs. As I do that, I’m learning. I can learn about practical things like how to use social networking to promote a business, to personal things, like how to show my children I love them more. I also learn quirky stuff like how to make a great Dutch Oven Sourdough Bread. A lot of times, in order to write about a particular topic, I’ll have to do some extra research. That helps me learn, too. Even though all this learning helps me to do specific tasks, I also get an overall sense of the zeitgeist of the ‘net.

• I can teach

I like to think that in my old age, I’ve managed to learn a lot of useful things. And, since I don’t always have an audience that’s interested in sitting down and listening to me pontificate, I can blog about it. I’m not arrogant enough to think that my blogging is going to change the world, but I do know that I occasionally will say something that will help someone else. At least that’s what some of my comments say.

• I can think and reflect

It’s hard to slow down. We’re all running and trying to pack as much into our twenty-four hours as we possibly can. Once in a while it’s good for me to stop and think about something. When I have to write about what’s happening or what’s going on, I have to contemplate and understand it. That thought process of writing, helps me to sort out a lot of my own issues.

• I can connect

By posting blog entries, I establish an audience, and I begin to connect with them. At times, as I’m writing, I’ll think, “So-and-So will really like this one!” or “Man, this one will really get That-One-Guy’s goat!” It’s a very cool thing to read a blog I follow regularly, and suddenly see him mentioning my blog. That’s a very validating moment.

• I can preserve

It’s a very cool thing to be able, now, to go back and read what I’ve written six years ago. I can sense my own growth and progress. I can understand myself much better.

• I can promote

When I first started, this was the one that focused first in my mind. Can I make this drive more traffic to my website? The answer was, and still is, OF COURSE! Blogging and using the bloggosphere is vital to the ongoing success of any website. Inbound links, incoming clicks, and interconnectedness and acceptance of your audience, all are great reasons for a business to blog.

But I also love the other reasons!

Mark is the co-director of, the search marketing consulting arm of Clickincome ( Mark also has other sites and blogs, including and his MoBoy blog.