A look at Progressive Conservative Cyberspace

It's the closest we'll ever come to electing a prime minister directly in Canada.

Cyberspace is coming big time to politics and will play an increasing role in how politicians and political parties communicate with us.

There has been a slow evolution in sophistication in websites for politicians over the past 6 years since grahical browsers became available. Each of these sites has been professionally designed and you'll enjoy each one with varying degrees of frustration.

As an experienced web user I want information and speed of loading and gee-whiz graphics are secondary for me.

Let's look at the technical aspects. First web addresses for ease of access:

Joe Clark site is www.joeclark.ca. There is an additional site at www.joeclark.com which creates a little confusion as it is his "Joe Clark Associates" site outlining his activities in business and there is a link back to his political site.

David Orchard is www.davidorchard.com. There is no corresponding davidorchard.ca site - a BIG BIG mistake as this fellow is holding himself out as a Canadian nationalist of the first order and he is using an INTERNIC domain when he SHOULD BE using the Canadian Domain Registry. (David if your people don't know how to register a Candian domain name, you have a problem...call me).

Hugh Segal is www.hughsegal.ca and www.hughsegal.com. This gives you a hint of things to come in terms of slickness. The people who built the site know about addressing and directing.

Next I ran a quick search on Altavista just to see if their sites popped up in a search under their name.

Sorry Joe, your site doesn't show in the first ten. A big mistake! Your guys should get your website up there in the index above a bunch of other trivial references to you in other sites.

David's people have done a pretty good job. His main site pops up as number three. There is another site at the University of Manitoba that pops up as number one. David your people should get rid of it and move your main site up.

Hugh's site...well guess what? It pops up as NUMBER 1. This was another indicator of the slickness factor. His cyberbrains are doing their job!

Next, I ran Tracer Route to see where these guys were hanging out and how fast their access was to the net.

Well Joe you need a lesson in where you position a website for serving. If you are going to store a website for Canadian politics maybe you want to get it stored and served closer to where the vast majority of requests are going to come from. I took 24 hops from my server in the Laurentians and headed on down through ISTAR to the NAP (Network Access Point) down in Secaucus New Jersey and across the U.S. to Seattle on Alter Net, on up to Vancouver and back to Calgary. Joe it simply doesn't cut it.

Compare this to David Orchard who being anti-free trade and very much pro-Canadian has his site only 11 hops away from me stored on a server in Toronto. BUT, BUT, BUT, David in addition to getting a Canadian domain name, maybe you should at least practice what you preach and use a Canadian company to serve your pages as it looks to me your website is being served up from UUNET a great American Company! But from a technical point of view you have the best server hands down...fast!

When I ran the trace on Hugh Segal I sort of had the feeling he might have it right too. No...not quite. It was 13 hops away and he is 2 hops off the main pipe. Lesson for Joe and Hugh. Get right on the "pipe". The fewer hops between you and the main trunk means speed and less frustration for people looking. Joe your site is heavily graphical and the fact you are 24 hops away from me means heavy frustration of the gifs loading! Hugh, the server serving your pages shows a bit slow...Martinet Networks goes out to Convoke Networks... before you hit ISTAR's pipe.

Now let's look at content and presentation. This get's a little more subjective and tells you a lot more about the guy than the system!

Joe's site is a disaster again. He opens with a 56K totally UNNECESSARY gif that gives you a prelude to the BIG WAIT before the meat. A second unnecessary graphic comes up before you get to the "spider". The spider is a group of 13 gifs arranged in a circle like a spider's web. Joe, first tell your website designer to "alt label" those gifs so that if we've turned off our graphics by now, we know what is there if we want to look at it. Second, I've had to go through four pages - all big long loads - before I get to a page with any information! Joe...go back to the drawing boards. You get a big "F". Any psychologist will also tell you that the colour scheme you are using ...projects weakness.

David Orchard's site also opens with an unnecessary large gif download before getting to the meat, but it is at least a depiction of Canada. The second page does get to the meat and it is simple and clear in presentation. It loads quickly and I like it. This site immediately says a lot about the guy...simple and straightforward. You feel its HONESTY. Although I'm not in agreement with many of his views to take Canada back and erect a fence, this site tells it like it is. David Orchard is obviously a "populist" in the making. Eugene Forsey's daughter, Helen, gives a personal testament in a letter copied from the Globe and Mail. This "folksiness" and frankness is perhaps what some Canadians are searching for. The information you do get is clear and well presented. Navigation is simple and beats all the others.

Now I dialled in Hugh's page and I got exactly what I expected here too.... The slickness is overwhelming...you can almost smell Mulroney lurking there in the background. This site is scary! It is just too professional and yes, too confusing as you can get lost in this site. I sent my LaurentianWebcrawler through all three sites (yeah guys...go look at your user agent log files and you'll see I crawled through and over you...) and I stopped the crawl through Hugh's site at over 400 files and 8 megabytes! I hope this guy will be more parsimonious with our national treasury if he did get control of it but I suspect as a Mulroney acolyte, this website just tells us what kind of machine is behind this fellow...it eats bandwidth. He's even using Active Server Pages. I had a good laugh reading his "vision" for Canada. It was short...really short...everything else was masssive! Also Hugh if you are going to offer an online "Hugh's Notebook" keep it up to date or get it off the site. It looks like you finished your notes in July...

So who wins? You decide. But the guy in the middle is honest and straightforward and speaks for Canada from the heart. He may just come up the middle with this party wide voting procedure that has been put in place by the PC's. I like it. It's the closest we'll ever come to electing a prime minister directly in Canada.

Only trouble is you have to join the PC party....

Now, take a look for yourselves at the sites.

Joe ClarkDavid OrchardHugh Segal
Duh! and Slow! Simple and ClearDangerously Slick

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