Jeremy Hunt – archives and accountability

Posted by Tim Ireland at 11 March 2010

Category: The Political Weblog Movement

This entry was posted on
Thursday, March 11th, 2010
at
10:12 am and is filed
under The Political Weblog Movement.

Last night I attended a Social Media Summit hosted by Lewis PR and Salesforce.com and run/moderated by Paul Evans.

A number of people spoke on the panel, including Jeremy Hunt.

Jeremy Hunt is the Conservative MP for South West Surrey (which will become my constituency after boundary changes) and, more importantly in light of the subject matter, he is Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. If the Tories scrape through at the next election, he will, in effect, become the Minister for Teh Internets.

Hunt also puts himself about as a bit of a blogger, and a believer in social media.

At last night’s event, Hunt declared that social media has led to MPs being more accountable.

There was a loud cough/splutter from the audience. That was me. Sorry.

In 2006, two Conservative activists closely associated with neighbouring Conservative MP Anne Milton anonymously smeared a political rival as a paedophile. I emailed Hunt about this at the time. The wannabe Minister for Teh Internets decided that this behaviour was not only a seedy and unseemly political tactic, but a wholly unacceptable use of the medium, and a general risk to the online community he wanted to represent.

Just kidding. In fact, Jeremy Hunt decided to say and do precisely nothing about it then, and he avoids any straightforward discussion of his decision to put party ahead of principle to this day.

We did have a discussion (of sorts*) about it on his ‘blog’ once, and I would link to that right now, but I can’t, for the same reason I’ve put the word ‘blog’ in scare-quotes; it’s gone.

Not only is that conversation gone, but the post above it is gone, too. In fact, everything Jeremy Hunt blogged about in 2008 and 2009 (along with every comment entrusted to him) has been disappeared into the ether.

The way Jeremy Hunt puts it; he only maintains a recent/immediate ‘archive’, which appears to amount to the last 30-odd posts. Everything else just… disappears. I’m not sure at this stage if a date-stamp kills them, or if they’re pushed into the void by each new post (like new facts in Homer Simpson’s brain) but either way, sooner or later, down the memory hole it goes. Bye-bye!

Even if you’re aware of the URL of an old entry (or work it out from the naming convention) you won’t be able to access it. Here’s entry 229; it’s the earliest live entry visible (from Jan 2010). Try entry 228 or anything earlier, and you’ll either get an error page or be bounced back to the front page.

Hunt gave me some waffle about “immediacy” to explain it, but this is not in keeping with his approach to his press release archive (which goes all the way back to 2004) and it completely dodges the issue of accountability.

Every other blogger on the scene understands the importance of maintaining an archive (with the possible exception of Iain Dale, who has a bad habit of editing/deleting old entries without notation)… but Jeremy Hunt regards it to be unimportant.

How does Jeremy Hunt’s ‘blog’ make him any more accountable, if he’s not willing to simply stand by his previous utterances?

What does this say about his attitude toward those who take the time to contribute comments and participate in conversations on his site? Do they know their contributions will soon be deleted as an irrelevance?

Also, Jeremy Hunt is an MP, familiar with a little thing called Hansard, and one hopes he’s not blind to the importance of (and the principles behind) that archive. Would he have that only go back 2-3 months as well? How about the LexisNexis and/or the British Newspaper Library? Will Jeremy Hunt be proposing we make those archives more ‘immediate’ if the Tories get in?

Finally, as I mentioned, this is the guy who wants to be Minister for Teh Internets… and he doesn’t appear to have the slightest appreciation of or respect for one of the core principles of online publishing.

(Oh, and – as I mentioned – he’ll also turn a blind eye when local sock-puppeting Conservative activists wish to smear an opponent as a paedophile. Which is nice.)

As he was racing off to something that was – I assume – far more important than my question about archives and accountability, I showed him a copy of a page he had ‘disappeared’ (I have trust issues with some of the local Tories, so I saved a copy of our paedo-smear conversation to my hard drive).

Hunt actually had the audacity to claim that he was accountable for material he had ‘blogged’ in the past, because someone else had bothered to archive a single page of content for their own records.

Unfortunately, this only begins to approach ‘near enough’ (if not ‘good enough’) if all of the past content is archived by a third party, and then published in a navigable/indexable form. So that’s what I’m going to do, starting with whatever I can gather from these scraps in the WayBack Machine. Obviously, I’m going to need to be a top search result for ‘Jeremy Hunt’ for this to be sufficiently visible, but this shouldn’t be a problem; it’s what I do best, and my version of his blog will offer a wealth of relevance (that he clearly regards to be irrelevant).

I doubt Jeremy will be happy that my version of his blog will allow additional comments that are beyond his control, but that’s the price you pay for outsourcing simple accountability.

[*Jeremy Hunt also cheats at comment moderation, but I’ll leave that for a later post.]

NOTE – The Bloggerheads archive goes all the way back to 2001, and there are NO changes to any of this without notation (example).








1 Comment

  1. Paul Herring says

    You may find webcitation[dot]org a particularly useful service if you're finding the WayBack machine a little patchy.

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