Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Ontario Election Sites: Technology =~ Politics?

I'm hosting the Ontario Green Party's site, and am also the Drupal developer for it. There's currently an Ontario election campaign taking place, so I'm keeping busy. Someone sent me a dead link on the Ontario NDP site, so I started looking at the other party's sites. It reminded me of a discussion we had at the Toronto Penguin day a couple of years ago about the relationship between open source software (and Drupal in particular) and politics. I think there's something there - for example:

  1. the Toronto Drupal Users' Group's (supposed?) left-leaning politics
  2. the Howard Dean campaign (which was the beginning of the civicspace distribution of drupal)
  3. Richard Stallman's involvement in Venezuela

I'll let you use google to confirm or deny any of the above ...but also to be noted, there's nothing that prevents any cause from making use of open source technology for nefarious and/or right-wing causes (oops, my bias is showing!).

So, I thought I'd survey what kind of technology the four parties are using and see about correlations:

  1. Liberal: Using ASP (a microsoft proprietary technology), probably a custom application judging from the urls. Hosted using Microsoft-IIS/6.0 on a machine with a bluecho.com reverse lookup - BluEcho looks like it was just bought by EntirelyDigital (http://w3.entirelydigital.com/). They seem to be located on Bloor St. here in Toronto. Using a .ca domain.
  2. Conservative Also uses ASP (but not .aspx like the Liberal party), also a custom application, also on Microsoft-IIS/6.0. No comment regarding policies... But on a magma.ca server (an Ottawa-based company, has offices in Toronto), and on a .com domain (what does that say?)
  3. NDP Using Drupal, but still using 4.7 (last full update was only 4.7.3, I hope they've installed the security patches since then!). The domain resolves to an ip with no reverse lookup, so I'm not sure who they're hosting with. Their mail is using megamailservers.com, which is a mass hosting private label company for mail. Unfortunately, the secure domain which handles their donations was broken (no response) a couple of days ago, and now gives various errors (e.g. they registered the certificate to the wrong domain...). Conclusion: I think they need some technical help, but the ideals are good. Definitely: upgrade to Drupal 5. Did they choose a .com domain because it used to be cheaper? Trying to increase mass appeal?
  4. Green Party Using Drupal 5, hosted on a virtual server out in Kelowna (rackforce.com) with good green credentials, running CentOS (open source version of RedHat Enterprise Linux). Too bad they also host Windows. I had the advantage that I started the site from scratch, no baggage to carry.

Leaving conclusions for the reader to draw. Don't get carried away.