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July 17th, 2008:

Midafternoon update, and more me in the media

The Texas Bloggers Caucus was a success – we had about 70 people in attendance, including some media types and other more traditional activists. Joe Jaworski spoke about his campaign. Melissa Noriega (who probably wasn’t expecting to be called on, but who did a very nice job anyway) talked about how she first came to discover and interact the blogosphere; she had a couple of good stories about having a DPS trooper knock on her door in the middle of the night shortly after the Ardmore exodus, and about using blogs to help track various plots and subplots in the Lege in 2005. Nate Wilcox said a few words about his book and his experiences with Richard Morrison and Tony Sanchez. I spoke about the TexBlog PAC. Good conversation, lots of energy from the crowd – all in all, a fine way to start.

Afterwards, I answered a few questions from a reporter with the Daily Texan and KUT. And beforehand, Eileen Smith caught me on video:

Eileen has several more videos at Poll Dancing, so check it out.

And finally, I got quoted by Karen Brooks, who outed an infiltrator in our midst. Right place, right time.

Media coverage of Netroots Nation

The Statesman writes about Netroots Nation and has the good taste to quote me.

“As politics has embraced the notion of blogging … it’s also the case that what I say and what I do does have an impact on the political process and the legislative process,” said Charles Kuffner, who started his liberal blog Off the Kuff in 2002.

There’s also this DMN article by Karen Brooks, who is here in the Texas Bloggers Caucus room; Austin TV stations KXAN, which is blogging, videoing, and Twittering; and Poll Dancing, which should have lots of videos as well. Also check out BOR, which didn’t much care for the accompanying editorial.

I have arrived at Netroots Nation

I’m sitting here on the floor of the Austin Convention, connected to their WiFI network (called “internets”) and getting ready for a full day of networking and schmoozing. First event is the Texas Blogger Caucus at 10:30. I’ll check back in during the day with updates of what’s going on – you can also follow me on Twitter for quick-hit stuff. It’s going to be a fun and busy weekend. Who else reading this is here? Leave a comment to let me know, and by all means come to my panel tomorrow.

UPDATE: At the Texas Blogger Caucus. Lots of new faces, so hopefully I’ll find out about some good new-to-me blogs. Vince is emceeing, and I’m up front on a panel with Karl-Thomas, Martha, and Anna. I’m ready for my closeup…

Still more recycling

Following up on the recent good news that the city will now accept more types of plastic for curbside and dropoff recycling, City Controller Annise Parker announces on her website that more expansions are coming:

Recycler AbitibiBowater has committed $3 million to upgrade its Houston facility to process single-stream recyclables and has announced plans for further investments to “strengthen the recycling partnership with the city…to allow the city … to proceed aggressively with a strategic plan for a sustainable recycling program.”

“With a single-stream processing facility in town, we will be able to provide more Houstonians with curbside recycling,” Solid Waste Management Department Director Harry Hayes said.

I’m sure the neighborhoods that don’t yet have curbside recycling but have been clamoring for it will be very glad to hear that. Now if we could just get participation rates up a bit, that would be excellent.

Meanwhile, a group of folks led by KPFT’s Leo Gold were at last week’s City Council meeting to present this petition (PDF) to Mayor White and a request for the following:

A. Formal adoption of “waste diversion rate” as the primary metric for measuring success of the Program, with regular tabulation and public release thereof. Waste diversion rate shall be defined as the sum of recycled volume, composted volume, and source volume reduced divided by total waste volume.

B. Integration of the Program with the City’s “regular” waste disposal program so that the overall waste management system is considered and budgeted in a comprehensive manner.

C. To encourage greater public participation in the Program, implementation of variable user fees for “regular” waste collection, the central features being implementation of variable size collection bins, with (1) price increasing proportional to bin size, and (2) a no-fee baseline small bin.

D. Expanded acceptance of materials currently refused by the Program, such as glass and building materials.

E. Expanded coverage of the Program to include currently neglected communities, including apartment/condo dwellers and commercial businesses.

F. Implementation of regulatory mandates where applicable, including (a)a requirement that locally permitted commercial businesses additionally submit for approval and subsequently follow comprehensive waste disposal and recycling plans, and (b) regulation of other waste disposal businesses such that they too must be in compliance with City Program-related regulations.

G. Implementation of industry best practices, including such Program initiatives as food waste recycling/composting from local restaurants and food stores, and recycling/re-use of demolished building materials by construction developers.

I. Creation of plans to gradually and appropriately bring about mandatory public participation in the Program.

J. Creation of formal and ongoing contacts, visitations, and study of comparable city programs for the express purpose of implementing ongoing improvements to the Program.

According to a posting on our neighbohood chat line, from which I got those links, they were favorably received.

Texas Freedom Network blogging

The Texas Freedom Network, which does an admirable job of watching and chronicling the religious right in Texas, has started a blog called the TFN Insider. Among other things, they’ll be focusing on the State Board of Education and its recent shenanigans concerning the language arts and reading curriculum and the new Bible-as-literature class. This should be a good resource, so check it out.

Voice mail

Dwight expresses his loathing of voice mail, then admits it’s not going anywhere:

In companies where technology is a means rather than the end, voice mail is alive and well. People reach for a phone when they want to have a quick conversation, and if they don’t get a human, they’ll leave a message. It happens millions of times a day.

Or, look at it this way: When was the last time you talked to any serious business person who didn’t have voice mail? Yeah, I didn’t think so.

No, voice mail isn’t dead, and people won’t stop using it. It’s a tool, and it has its place. It’s just no longer in first place, thankfully.

At work, which do you prefer to receive: Voice or e-mail? And, when reaching out instead of receiving, which do you prefer?

I’m more or less indifferent. A big part of my job is troubleshooting end-user problems, and in many cases there’s just no substitute for the phone for that task. I can’t always use it – some of my customers are in Asia, and we’re never in the office at the same time – but it’s not optional for me. I also deal with a lot of mobile users, and as often as not the phone is their only option to reach me. Given that, a certain amount of voice mail is inevitable, and that’s fine by me. It gets the job done.

For some things, however, email is definitely better. I get a lot of requests for routine tasks involving the server, all of which I can do on my BlackBerry. Your odds of getting me to do those things in a timely fashion is much greater if you shoot me an email, especially if I’m away from my desk, because I check my email way more frequently than I check my voice mail. Plus, seeing in print the name of someone I need to perform some task on solves the “how do I spell that?” problem.

Bottom line, some things require a conversation, and for those things I prefer the phone. Leave me a voice mail, I’ll call you back. For more routine stuff, send me an email. There’s a reason we have different tools for different jobs. Why force a choice when you can do what makes the most sense?

I’ll now ask the same question Dwight did: What do you prefer, voice mail or email? Leave a comment and let me know.