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Sunday, November 27, 2005

WEBWISE IN GLASGOW: Internet workshops and heavy drinking

Glasgow has plenty of impressive architecture to be proud of, but i was quite taken by this smashed up TV and could not help wonder what had gone on before it was lobbed out of the window.

This weekend, communications activists from all over the country gathered in the Hilton in Glasgow for my annual ‘Communications Liaison Weekend’. These can be hit and miss, as boring as the name suggests or actually quite interesting, depending on what is discussed. Fortunately, this year it turned out to be really good.

The weekend started off with some basic stuff; reports from each region on what they have been up to, review of campaign materials and campaigns planned for 2006.

Then Eric Lee stepped in. I had never heard of Eric before, but had unknowingly used his website many times. He runs ‘Labour Start, an on-line news resource for trade unionists.

First impression I thought, oh my gawd, a middle aged American cyber geek, but it was not long before Eric, who was born in New York but is now based in the UK, had me enthralled. He has been on the cutting edge of Internet activism since the very early days, before people realised what a useful tool it could be.

We discussed the uses for websites, how a blog can be used for a specific campaign, on-line petitions, cyber pickets and much more.

During one of his sessions he kept telling us how easy it is to set up a website. Embarrassingly one of my colleagues from Wales stopped him and said “you keep telling us how easy it is, well why don’t you put your money where your mouth is and show us”. The room went silent, I cringed and thought to myself ‘it had to be someone from Wales showing his ignorance.’ All eyes turned to Eric, who looked at first as if he wanted the world to open up and swallow him. After a brief pause, he said “well, that is going off the topic of this talk a bit, but… what would you like your website to be called?” Five minutes later Eric had set up a website for his branch (using, not quite ideal, but simple and easy to use.) My Welsh colleague was suitably impressed, as was everyone else.

I realise this will make me sound like a geek, but i think i will check out some of the books Eric has written. Many of his ideas will be useful both for my trade union activities and for my more 'radical' activities.

On top of the weekend talking Internet, we also managed to squeeze in a few pints, watch the Welsh rugby team beat Australia, do a bit of Christmas shopping and take some photos.

No delays flying home, at 20:30 we were in Glasgow, by 22:00 we were back in Cardiff. Sorted.


At 3:45 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

No probs about you liking Eric - tonnes of problems about you slagging off the Ozzie rugby team.

Yep I live Down Under and lean heavily on Eric Lee for web union ideas.

( Oh and a few probs about your comments about middle aged farts like me)

At 4:29 pm , Blogger Clint Iguana said...



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