While writing the rest of this post, ongoing inquiries led me to the actual web development company behind the Brown Campaign website - Isotoma, which is based in York, and to this blog entry…
We’ve been beavering away pretty hard for the last few weeks on a new site which went live today. Gordon Brown’s campaign web site. One of the most topical sites we’ve ever launched (and linked to from BBC News, too, which always makes for interesting server administration panics). Given the inherently short time scales the team here have really pulled out all the stops to get it live, and even if we say so ourselves we think it’s all looking rather nice…
As this URL shows, the site is also hosted by Isotoma on their own servers.
With that, I’ll let most of the rest of the story ride….
UPDATE - The site does, of course, indicate on its front page that its hosted by Isotoma, which makes what follows all the more amusing for it having been staring both Dizzy and Staines in the face all day.
Time for a quick synopsis of past events…
1. The Times ran a distinctly sub-standard article which alluded to the Brown campaign attempting to conceal campaign donations from the Electoral Commission, all of which was in keeping with the rather obvious and continuing Tory strategy of trying to mire Brown in allegations of low-level sleaze.
2. Dizzy did a little digging and turned up a number of suspicious looking domains in the form ‘gordonbrown4leader.[TLD]’ registered by an employee of Silverfish, a media communications company that has previously carried out media work for the Labour Party.
3. Dizzy then wrote up a somewhat ambiguous piece about his findings that, perhaps unintentionally, conflated his discoveries with the Times story, which he used as a starting point for his piece.
4. Iain Dale then jumped on Dizzy’s bandwagon and added a bit of spin of his own to the story to push it even further down the line that had appeared in the Times.
I then pitched in on the premise that the evidence, as presented, looked rather too thin to justify even Dizzy’s at times heavily qualified contentions, let alone Dale’s additional spin or the content of the Times article.
As should be obvious, with the launch of the Brown campaign comes the Brown campaign website, which means we’re now in a position to judge fully who got what right (and wrong).
So, first off, a minor mea culpa on my part - I did state in my original piece that:
Dizzy’s got it completely wrong having made the classic blogger’s error of interpreting the ‘evidence’ to fit a pre-conceived conclusion rather than deriving conclusions from the evidence.
And I now seems that I need to revise my original estimate somewhat.
What Dizzy got right was that Silverfish have registered domains that are no being used by the Brown campaign - although what he hit on in terms of the domains he uncovered at the time appears to have been no more than ‘possibles’ that have now been rejected or protective registrations. The ‘gordonbrown4leader…’ domains continue, at this point, to be parked up at Discount Domains.
What is in use - and was also registered by Silverfish at the same time - was gordonbrown.org and gordonbrownforbritain.com (plus .co.uk, .org and .org.uk), which are the domains in use.
As for everything else… that’s all still complete guesswork and conjecture.
Whatever else Silverfish are, they’re not a web design company and nothing on their new site - and I particularly like the game of ‘guess how to scroll the page’ - suggests that they have anyone on staff with the kind of in-house expertise to deliver the all singing and dancing new media web 2.0 love-in that Dizzy was expecting. Oh, and they have made just as poor a job of protecting the domains they are using as those that Dizzy found as well.
So, with hindsight, Dizzy’s exclusive looks little better today than it did at the time, inasmuch as the only solid thing he’s proved is that a company bought a couple of hundred quid’s worth of domains last October.
Interesting, but small potatoes and still no where close to supporting the sleaze line that Dale and The Times were trying to run with.
As for the rest - the web 2.0 love-in and the ‘backend in development since October/December’ well…
I supposed you can call the site ‘web 2.0′ in the sense that it has RSS feeds and a video on it…
… it’s a Wordpress blog (version 2.13) and the video is hosted on YouTube, in an account created on May 8th, with the footage in the video having been shot in Sheffield on May 1st. The Moblog/Photo Gallery uses a bog-standard Wordpress plug-in and a Flickr account, and the ‘Follow’ option takes you to an embedded Google Map (another standard plug-in), which provides the site with a very neat way of spiking Paul Staines’s ‘Where Gordon’ shtick…
Staines is already whinging about the ‘unoriginality’ of the Google Map in a post that claims, in addition that ‘Gordon’s People’ denied and lied about the site and Dizzy seems to think that the appearance of Brown’s campaign site at a domain bought by Silverfish vindicates his original article in full. He’s also still twittering on about ICANNs policy on domain speculation despite knowing full well that the policy is entirely meaningless and unenforceable - or does Dizzy think that GoDaddy’s Domain Name Auction Site vets every single seller for complience with ICANN policy before letting them put a domain up for sale.
What was said by Mark Lucas from Silverfish on April 12th - the day after Dizzy’s first article - was…
“There is a mini-industry around buying domain names. We look into the future and work out what is likely to be useful. We were not commissioned by anyone, but we’d be happy to sell it on to Gordon Brown.
“We do a lot of stuff for the Labour Party, but haven’t been asked to do anything for Mr Brown’s campaign. We have been filming for Labour in the local elections, including Cabinet ministers for films, web clips and archives.”
In light of the fresh information to hand, I am have to revise my estimate of the story - Dizzy was not ‘completely wrong’ - only 99% or so has turned out to be bollocks.
In short, Dizzy’s still proved nothing of substance - and even if it is true that Silverfish were given a nod from Damien McBride to register a few domains, as Staines contends well so fucking what - its hardly a smoking gun in fact it doesn’t even amount to nicking paperclips, which is about the level of Staines most recent revelations.About the most interesting thing here, all told, is that Staines has been up to his usual trick of making stealth edits - his post of yesterday originally cited the url of Brown’s campaign website as www.gordonbrown.org and not www.gordonbrownforbritain.com, only for Dizzy to drop him in it this time by acknowledging this at 10am today, which neatly puts a timeline on the alteration made by Staines.
What makes this even more stupid is that the gordonbrown.org domain actually does now redirect to the campaign website.
You following this?
Staines has accused the Brown campaign of lying about its relationship with Silverfish having dishonestly made an alteration to a post published yesterday to make it appear that he knew the correct domain name of the Brown campaign website a full day before he actually got that information. Any one with a shred of honesty would simply have noted that the domain identified yesterday, the .org, now pointed to the actual domain of the website, but not Staines because that wouldn’t fit in with his carefully cultivated image of being ahead of the game.
And now, as you’ll have seen from the exclusive at the top of the post, Silverfish do not own the Brown campaign website nor do they appear to have had any substantive part in its development, but for possibly the first campaign video.Will Staines now post a correction? Or will he try another stealth edit to cover his mistake?
Even more bizarrely, Staines, post this morning actually credits Dizzy for making the spot on the real URL, which makes it even more odd that he’d then go back and alter a day old post without noting the change…
One starts to wonder quite what time Staines started on his usual Friday lunch today?
UPDATE - STAINES BUSTED AGAIN…
Staines has been stealth editing again…
“The shiny all new GordonBrown.org…”?
That wasn’t there earlier - and conveniently enough the date stamp on the RSS Feed shows the time that this post was lasted edited - 16:33 on Friday 11th May.
T0 make matters even more interesting, Staines has now added a footnote to his story…
*There are a few others [domains] as well. Silverfish bought some of them off lucky owners for substantial sums.
Funny he should mention that because the previous owner of www.gordonbrown.org turns out to have one David Taylor, who was found last year to have registered a spate of ‘Johnson4Leader’ domains (and, ironically, was also busted by Dizzy) - the domain appears to have housed the hastily pulled ‘Gordon is a moron’ blog.
And as Tim Ireland relates here (scroll down to point 11) Taylor has also been identified by Paul Staines as one of his past (and maybe present, who knows) sources as this e-mail exchange demonstrates…
—- Original Message —–
From: “Guy Fawkes”
To: “Tim Ireland” firstname.lastname@example.org
Sent: Monday, September 11, 2006 4:31 PM
Subject: Re: boom
> Have you done fourth term net?
> Are you going to point the finger at Benji Wegg Prosser No. 10’s
> Director of Strategic Communications?
> Not vis-a-vis Taylor - he is McM’s gofer. - and paid to dig dirt on
> LibDems. But McM is plausibly deniable by BWP.
> BWP is very keen on the Online War. He is frustrated with what he
> sees as right-wing ascendancy online.
> Check the Google cache for the hastily pulled Gordon is a Moron blog.
> On 9/11/06, Tim Ireland wrote:
>> Of course, you’ll have to report this when it goes mainstream
>> —– Original Message —–
>> From: “Guy Fawkes”
>> To: “Tim Ireland”
>> Sent: Monday, September 11, 2006 5:14 PM
>> Subject: Re: boom
>> > All yours, am laughing.
>> > As I said before, he is a source. That buys him some protection.
>> > Doesn’t mean I don’t wish you well….
>> > On 9/11/06, Tim Ireland wrote:
>> >> http://www.bloggerheads.com/archives/2006/09/david_taylor_rumbled.asp
The ‘others’ that Staines refers to here may well just be an ‘other’ as Taylor was only ever positively ID’d for having the one Brown-related domain name, unless Tim or anyone else knows otherwise.