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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Daveberta Punk's Premier Ed. I Love it!

Register a Domain name - $14.00
Google Ad revenue - $20.00 per month
Punkin’ Premier Ed – Priceless.

My hat goes off to my friend daveberta (http://www.daveberta.com/) for a very clever political prank and effective practical joke around edstelmach.ca. It works at so many levels. Playing the poor debt ridden student victim card is even richer. This is a pure and politically powerful university student prank. I love it.

The magnificent mischief in registering the domain name is likely all Dave and not the Alberta Liberals. They are as old school as my Progressive Conservative Party. It shows the digital divide is not only able access but about application of the power of the Internet. So many people in power today don’t get it.

Sure there are legalities and issues – if that is how you see the world. This stunt by Dave is pure prank and while it may be technically “offensive” such a breach is at the level of a petty trespass and not an identity theft. This is the 21st century equivalent of renting the billboard right above you competitions campaign office at election time.

The legalistic over reaction and the delayed in catching on by the powers that be in the PC Party is classic old school. Klein did this delayed over reaction thing once too when he read one of Kevin Taft’s policy books and called him a Communist thereby catapulting Taft into the spotlight and turning the book into an Alberta best seller. Duh!

Dave is no political amateur and he knows exactly what he is doing. He has had this site for almost a year and presumably linking it to the Harry Strom Wikipedia entry for all that time. Delaying the “release” of the letter from the lawyers until the slower news time after Christmas and playing the media so adeptly shows Dave’s sophistication about such things.

The classic response of a cease and desist legal letter has put the prank into the MSM and all over the Blogoshpere in spades. The resulting media coverage is ensuring Dave’s goal of framing the PCs as “so yesterday” politically is now accomplished – as of this morning 79 comments are on Dave’s blog post. Even Craig Chandler is commenting on Dave’s blog offering to buy the domain name hoping Ed Stelmach would still pursue him he was in control of the site.

Premier Stelmach, it is time to back off. If you want to get out of a hole the first thing to do is stop digging. Acknowledge the prank and that it has served its purpose and move on. The take away learning from this is for the mainstream political parties to get some young hip people into the key communications positions in their campaign organization. Quit criticizing Cournoyer and clone him.

18 comments:

  1. Great post, Ken, and kudos to young politico daveberta for showing savvy media skills. Eddie has overreacted: utilizing a well-connected Tory lawyer to repress an opponent is a bit too reminiscent of Ralph’s regime.

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  2. Hi Ken - a couple of observations. First, I strongly advise all my clients to buy every single domain name that could possibily be confused with their own, used to satirize their own or misused in any way - whether it be a prank or attemped fraud. It's communications 101 and only a rank amateur would miss it. Stunning. If you know anyone over there, please advise them to IMMEDIATELY (and definitely before the election is called) register domain names like Stelmachisstupid.com, Stelmachsucks.com, Stelmachisamoron.com
    VoteforStelmach.com, etc. The PC Party should own. these domain names and many more. They cost about $30 for five years. Duh.
    Secondly, having been outsmarted by a teenager, whose idea was it to give the domain name national publicity and make a martyr of the kid? Inquiring minds want to know.

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  3. Anonymous12:55 pm

    What does Craig Chandler have to say about this?

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  4. Go to the comments on Davberta and see for yourself about Mr. Chandler's comments

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  5. HI Donna - I don't know who wanted to go legal on this but my bet is that Monty Python had something to do with it.

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  6. There is a really funny comment on Dave's site from "Cupcake Man" I have to share. He says

    "Hello - is this the Web site for Ed's Telephone Machines? (EdsTelMach.ca?) I bought a phone from you guys and now it's busted. I was told this is where to fix it. Give me a refund or I'll sue!!"

    This is such smart humour !

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  7. And to HBP - re reminiscent of Ralph - I hope you are wrong...but last time you speculated on the merger of the Wildrose and Alliance in your comment on this Blog I disagreed with you. AND YOU were right.

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  8. Anonymous3:37 pm

    Forwarding a website of someone's name to another site like Daveberta has done leaves him legally liable for damages. Just give it up already and stop cybersquatting before the full arm of the law comes down upon you.

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  9. I have no doubt cybersquatting is wrong and Dave's instance is cybersquatting so he should and I expect would give up the site.

    However - it points out just how much campaigning and elections and politics has changed in the Internet age.

    I think traditional political approaches will sustain but they must also adapt to the new realities. I see the MSM adapting and politics and politicins must do so too.

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  10. Anonymous9:34 am

    Neil Waugh has an interesting take on the issue in today's Edmonton Sun. The fact that Cournoyer was an employee of the Alberta Liberals during the majority of the time he undertook this initiative suggests that this was much more than a simple university student "prank". He was a hired gun, who spends his free time trying to negatively influence people's perception of a public official. That the Alberta Liberals neither "confirm nor deny that they sanctioned the activity" is enough for me.

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  11. Neil Waugh is still ticked that Dave helped with the insurgent campaign in Ward 5 that got rid of the Stickman Mike Nickel. That and he sees skull and bones conspiracies everywhere when it comes to the Liberals. As for this junk about cybersquatting, the fact is these domains are already purchased and up for sale. Check out my posts on Ed's Domain names. How dumb can you be not to buy edstelmach.ca or edstelmach.com, the later is a commercial site in Nassau. I wonder if he is going to sue them too?

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  12. Yeh Eugene - you may be right about Mr. Waugh's lamenting for Mike Nickel.

    Mr. Waugh does not like me much either...because I supported Dave Hancock who is way too reasoned and seasoned for his tastes.

    During the do-nothing Klein days, Mr. Waugh did have a great line about me once saying to the effect that in the PC party I stood out like a mustard stain on a tie. I relish that description ----especially considering the source.

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  13. Anonymous12:30 pm

    All this banter that boils down to "how smart Cournoyer is" for taking the domain name and "how dumb Stelmach is" for not reserving every combination of his name and [dot] suffix, completely misses the point.

    If you agree with what Cournoyer did, you are saying that anyone that doesn't reserve a domain name that resembles their name deserves what she/he gets. It is classic "blame the victim" mentality. So you should have no problem with these fine examples:

    linking www.nathanhornburg to a pro/anti-war website, or even Lubex (oil changed while you sit safely in your car/tank, get it?)

    linking the names of one of those poor murdered prostitutes in vancouver to the website of a meat rendering facility, or a corporate pig farm; or

    linking TerriSchiavo.com to the site of a company that makes medication for bedsores; or

    linking BenazirBhutto.com to the webiste for the TV show "Pimp My Ride" or to the company that makes Kevlar.

    I could go on, but I think most people would agree that this behavior would be widely condemned. Yet co-opting the name of a public official for the express purpose of negatively influencing opinion against him/her is not only considered just a prank, but is applauded in some circles, even when the individual is known to be in the employ of another political party.

    And yet we lament and wonder why fewer and fewer capable people take up the burden of public service.

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  14. Anon - part of what you say I agree with - particularly your conclusion about lamenting why fewer capable people take up the burden of public service.

    Premier Stelmach is not to blame here...his people are. I know Ed and what I know of him does not lead me to believe he is all that conscious of the new media and its implications.

    This incident is evidence of cultural divide around digital media. Any politician who wants to stay in the game these days needs to get up to speed about this stuff or have people who can do it for him.

    Your examples of serious abuse of domain names underscores that this activity has potential for danger and I do not wish to diminish that fact. There can be dire consequences of such behaviours...but not in this context.

    Tricky Dave Cournoyer however is merely playing over political gamesmanship. Does his prank add to the debate, clarify the real issues, does it help enhance our democracy? Not much - if at all. But so what! Has he made a point? You bet and the inspired Malcolm Mayes cartoon in the Edmonton Journal today says it all - and all in good humour too.

    There is a difference of experience and consciousness at play here that is generational and digital. Perhaps Dave is too-clever-by-a-half and perhaps the PC Party is over-reactionary by a half as well.

    But this cannot be taken really seriously - it is a prank...pure and simple. That is why the lawyering up by the PC Party in response is over the top and is what has given the story legs.

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  15. No one here agrees with what the kid did - but this particular dirty trick is so easy to prevent, it raises the question: what else is NOT being done to protect Stelmach's interests? Protecting him from real flying pies in easy -it takes foresight, strategic thinking and a little bit of savvy to protect him from virtual flying pies of which there are many more to come, I'm certain.

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  16. Anonymous2:41 pm

    donna,
    Thanks for the clarification, and your comments certainly ring true - the Premier needs and should have people that protect him from this sort of thing. But here's the rub: how much time would you as a taxpayer like to see an elected official spend on merely protecting themselves from the daveberta's of the world at the expense of doing what she/he was elected to do? The sarcastic framing of the issue in the MSM makes it seem like it is incumbent on the individual to protect themselves and seems to praise the actions of the instigator.

    That's all I'll say on the matter. The humble student from the UofA has had more than his fifteen minutes of fame... here's hoping that's the end of it.

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  17. Anonymous5:30 pm

    You say that Stelmach's people are to blame. Who are these people?

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  18. I don't know who is responsible in his campaign or his office or the PC Party for this stuff.

    For sure it is NOT the responsibility of the Public Affairs Bureau. This is politics -not governance. He has his government home page as Premier where PAB would engage.

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