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That can’t be an electric car: the Fisker Karma

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I’m a huge fan of electric cars, or rather, the concept of electric cars. I say “concept” because currently without them having taken off in the mass market yet, they’re not fully suitable for the typical driver’s lifestyle, depending on how far you generally need to drive. There aren’t an abundance of charging stations around yet, and without those, who wants the risk of getting stranded? No one.

And then, there’s the look of the electric car. When you think of an electric car, you’re probably like me and visualize the small, cute, round-looking 2-person (or physics-defying 4-person) cars that are not quite buggy, not quite car.

So, to date, an electric car hasn’t been fully suitable from a functional and design aesthetic perspective… so it’s not fully in the consideration set of most car buyers, right?

Enter the Fisker Karma – a luxury (real) four-seater electric car that looks – well, it looks sexy! Now that’s a car. What’s better, it’ll go the distance you need it to without the frequent charge ups.

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Politics riding the social wave

We’re starting to see strong instances of social media being brought into politics in a big way. Governments and agencies around the world have certainly been dabbling and taking small steps towards social media for some time, but so far, they haven’t taken any major actions to plunge in and take full advantage of social media for the things its good for: two-way communication. In the last few months, it’s refreshing to see this is starting to change.

The first example is very recent. Of course, it’s Obama’s Facebook and Twitter town halls.I was excited when I learned of Obama’s live streaming Facebook Town Hall a few months ago – and was pressed up to my phone on a streetcar trying to catch every word. I was even more impressed last night when I saw the news about Obama’s Twitter Town Hall. The combination of the two events likely makes Obama, in my opinion, one one of the most progressive and savvy world leaders when it comes to leveraging the power of social media as a means of communication. We saw it on the campaign trail in the run for Presidency, and we see it now three years later. While the raw, uncontrollable democracy and equalized voices of social media may cause fear and apprehension for some, it’s heartening to see Obama trying it, embracing it, leveraging it to reach deeper into the minds of his audience. While it’s been causing a stir around the quality of some of the questions asked, on the other side, there have also been some very real issues to Americans, and frankly the global community, that have been addressed as well. With democratic discussions, you take the good with the bad.

Dan Pfeiffer, Obama’s Communications Director was quoted saying:

If you’re going to communicate with the broad public, it is no longer sufficient to simply do it through the traditional mainstream media. We’re always on the lookout for ways to have a productive interaction with the public in new and exciting ways.

I have to say, I fully agree.

And then, there’s Iceland. Having suffered a catastrophic financial crash in 2008, Iceland is doing everything it can to bounce back… including crowdsourcing their new constitution. They’ve engaged 950 randomly selected citizens to come together to brainstorm and discuss the new constitution, and have opened up the process to the public for further input and discussion: a process which has been overseen by a committee of 25.

They’ve built out their new website as a hub of their progress that houses line-by-line posts of new constitutional clauses for public commentary. They have established a Facebook page to encourage further discussion and to give updates on progress. And finally Twitter to push out links to information and to field public questions. Iceland, has in effect, methodically put in place a full-blown cross-channel digital strategy, and they’re doing it right.

As a bit of trivia, it turns out that Iceland has never actually written its own constitution before. The one currently in place was based entirely on the Danish constitution and carried over in 1944 when Iceland gained independence from Denmark. It’s certainly time for a change – and what a way to do it.

I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next – and whether other countries will start following suit.

Corruption, parliamentary deadlock… Karzai’s impeachment?

Photo credit: NY Times

When I opened my computer this morning and started puttering around my morning news routine: email >> Twitter >> now Google+ >> blogs >> Facebook… Facebook (double-take), I was surprised to find New York Time’s headline staring back at me. “Afghan Parliament debates impeachment of Hamid Karzai“. Could it be? President Hamid Karzai is now facing the very real possibility of impeachment?

My immediate reaction: Really? It’s finally happening.

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been nearly five years since my time in Afghanistan. Because of my time there, Afghanistan has always had a special place in my heart — and for my attention, but despite all the news reports that fly towards us from around the world, the true heart of the matter is always hard to gauge unless you’re on the ground. I haven’t been on the ground for nearly five years – so take my opinion with, you know as they say, salt. I’m certainly no analyst or expert.

So with that caveat out of the way – why “finally”?

When Hamid Karzai was first elected into power in 2004, the Afghan nation and the international communities had high hopes. He was the choice candidate for the west, with his iconic dress code and articulate diction, Karzai was famously commented on by then Gucci’s Tom Ford as “the most chic man in the world”. He was also Pashtun, a prominent Afghan tribe from the southern regions like Kandahar and Jalalabad – great as it was expected that he could make big strides in building greater bonds with those regions where the Taliban were known for having a stronghold. Afghanistan was on the brink of change. Progress, development, reconstruction – everyone was excited. Money was pouring in from the international community, and all eyes were watching – none more so than the local Afghan people so hopeful for the bright future ahead of them. Everyone had high hopes. Read more

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