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Filter - Cynthia L. Webb
Democrats Get Wired in Boston


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By Cynthia L. Webb Staff Writer
Monday, July 26, 2004; 9:46 AM

This year's Democratic National Convention might be all about the good old-fashioned business of politics, but the presentation is science fiction transformed into reality.

Images of the man of the hour, presidential contender and Massachusetts Sen. John F. Kerry, will be beamed across the convention floor at the FleetCenter on big-screen televisions before he arrives Thursday. And his running mate, Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, will make his first appearance at the convention in an address to 900 union member delegates via satellite, Reuters reported.
Reuters: Democratic All-Stars To Open National Convention

Video technology is also being used to keep state delegates in touch with speakers at the convention through broadcasts being streamed into their hotels, courtesy of video conference company Polycom Inc.. Rod O'Connor, chief executive of the Democratic National Convention Committee, was kind enough to plug the technology in a statement. (Proof positive that the convention is not just a showcase of politicos.)

The Houston Chronicle wrote about some of the slickness on tap this week. "This weekend, as 35,000 delegates and journalists filled Boston's hotels and sidewalks, workers inside the FleetCenter hammered the final nails into an impressive stage and tested dozens of video screens. The red, white and blue sky will come wafting down on cue at the convention's climax as more than 100,000 biodegradable balloons and 1,000 pounds of tissue paper confetti are released onto the cheering crowd. It'll cost about $250,000," the paper reported. "Building up to that moment over the next four days will be a carefully choreographed series of high-tech video presentations showcasing Kerry's boyhood, his military service in Vietnam, his years in public office and his family life. The images -- a required ingredient of any modern political convention -- will be projected on a giant 90-foot-by-70-foot screen above the stage, just under a huge American flag."
Houston Chronicle: Putting On A Show (Registration required)

Technology is also the force behind an unprecedented level of security at the convention. "Fear of a terrorist attack at the Democratic National Convention has turned Boston's FleetCenter into a paranoid political Fort Knox, complete with face-scanning cameras, chemical bomb treatment kits and random subway searches. Balloons will still fall and drinks will still flow, but the first convention after September 11 will be filled with reminders that Americans no longer feel safe," the Detroit News reported today. "It's an issue that resonates far beyond the 8-foot wire fence and concrete barricades surrounding Boston's convention center this week. Democrats know their success in November depends on convincing voters that they'll be safer with a Democrat in the White House. ...Congress appropriated $50 million for security at this week's Democratic convention and the Republican National Convention in New York from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2. Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge warned that the conventions could be a target for terrorists looking to 'disrupt our democratic process.'"

The Associated Press had more details: "More than 100 high-tech video cameras were set up near the FleetCenter, site of the convention, and on downtown buildings to monitor the movements of thousands of delegates, journalists and visitors expected into the city," the article said. "The U.S. Coast Guard planned to use infrared and night-vision cameras in Boston Harbor and to randomly board commercial ships for security checks."
The Detroit News: Tightened Security Chills Mood
Associated Press via The Boston Globe: Security Tight In Boston For Convention

Tech news service warned that all of the wireless devices at the convention -- which could be everything from Palm Pilots to BlackBerries -- could pose an information security risk. "There's a gaping hole in the much-hyped security measures taken for this week's Democratic National Convention: Thousands of wireless devices around the FleetCenter could be used as pawns in a cyberattack. Wireless security provider Newbury Networks Inc. of Boston issued that warning after detecting the heavy concentration of devices during a three-hour 'war driving' exercise through the city. Many of the unsecured wireless networks and 802.11 client cards were in a one-block radius of the FleetCenter," the site said. Wireless Devices A DNC Hazard


Online attack fears aside, the convention will be abuzz with news tailored to the tech-savvy. Organizers are touting some features for Web fans on the convention Web site, including "gavel-to-gavel webcasts from the convention floor" and online evening chats with party leaders. There is also an e-mail sign up for people to get updates of the convention, touted by the party site as "e-delegate" sign-up. The Dems have also started a convention-themed blog.

Bloggers were invited to the convention for the first time, moving them up to near-official news sources, a development that Gannett News Service covered. "Democratic National Convention's official blogger and a former speechwriter for Al Gore, Eric Schnure, who said it's fitting that they're making their first recognized appearance at the political convention in Boston," the article said. "What they're doing is using a new technology to practice what might be considered an older, more pure, less-commercial form of journalism," said. Here's more: "There are several niche bloggers who will be attending the Democratic convention. Jessamyn West of is a public librarian who is concerned about the loss of the public sphere and how it's playing out in libraries. Jeralyn Merritt is a criminal defense attorney whose TalkLeft site covers legislative issues and criminal justice policies from a liberal perspective. And then there's Tom Burka, whose Opinions You Should Have site is strictly satire, with made-up articles in the vein of The Onion, a satirical newspaper and Web site. Some are updated as much as a dozen times a day, while others are a one-shot, blow-by-blow of the day's best clicks."
Gannett News Service via USA Today: Bloggers Bring New Perspective To Convention

The New York Times has more on blogging at the convention: "Even as many networks are reducing their coverage of the increasingly predictable political conventions, the political blogs, which have become a fruitful alternative for individual voices, have been ablaze over the prospect of officially covering conventions for the first time. Ms. Merritt is one of about three dozen bloggers who have been given press credentials for the Democratic convention in Boston, which begins Monday. Another, Ana Marie Cox from the Washington gossip site, will be working as a correspondent for MTV. Organizers of the Republican convention have said they plan to issue credentials to 10 to 20 bloggers," the article said.
The New York Times: Year of the Blog? (Registration required)

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