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November 10, 2010


Plockton, Scotland – A lot of emphasis is placed on the need for campaigning groups to involve themselves with social networking….

Question is does all this social bookmarking, social networking, crowd sourcing, blogging, podcasting, folksonomy, ezine publication, flash mobbing, video streaming etc etc actually make any difference. After all its only communication and we have done that, communicating, since we were living in caves. We may be better informed but does that mean we can make a difference to the issues that concern us and the campaigns we like to support.

But then face it social networking (SN) is really only a smokescreen for marketing. What ever your choice of SN website(s) a nano second after you make the mistake of entering you preferences in ‘your profile’ those handy ‘life style’ ads pop up, quickly followed by invitations to join campaigns and causes. With a mere click of the mouse or touch of a finger you can, ‘like’, ‘join’ ‘support’ anything from saving polar bears to ensuring the street light on the corner is not a victim of  ‘the cuts’. What’s more you don’t have to pay to join!

Yes that’s a real advantage of supporting SN campaigns and causes its free. A great conscience salver too. Sitting in front of the telly watching the chrimbo supermarket ads, nice healthy people tucking into massive piles of Christmas fare. No worries I’m a supporter of the ‘People Sitting In Front of LCD TV’s Free Zimbabwe Campaign’. I’m sorted I know all about the children finding their Christmas dinner on the local rubbish dump, and that midnight knock on the door. It’s not Santa just one of Mr Mugabe’s ‘friends’ calling for a ‘chat’ with dad cos he had the temerity to voice an opinion. I’m informed, I’m a supporter. Yeah fine. But did you actually do anything about it!

Wow! Off message again this is supposed to be about social networking and motorcycling. So has SN made a difference to motorcycle ‘riders rights’? Answer yes. But not as much as it should or will do. Yep we have had KillSpills, Rider Connect, No To Bike Parking Tax, Right To Ride and others both showing the way and getting stuck in. But the ‘big’ two. the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) and British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF), are a little adrift. Plenty of chat and ‘Twitter’, do I really need to know if the BMF’s ‘lobbyist’ is ‘on a plane’ except to ask if he’s on a one way ticket! Or MAG’s latest ‘Transport Advisor’ is attending an ’industry meeting’ in the riders interest was it?  Do I need to know? No I don’t.

That’s where the ‘big two’ are a bit stuck. Cos they don’t really embrace the concept of SN. Look at the picture’s it’s the same old gang at the centre preserving the status quo and expounding on the same old issues with the same old rhetoric. It’s the same old national committees formulating policy.

So where are the MAG and BMF forums for discussion and policy forming, where are the online polls online aids to opinion forming, look closely there aren’t any.

Conclusion – It’s not your views, your issues, being delivered it’s theirs. Worse you are told what your issues are. Even worse said issues are being punted to central and local government on your behalf by a group you may not be in membership of and don’t agree with.

Recently I met one of the people behind Rider Connect, their political strategist, now moved on to other ‘thing’s’. He pointed up the need to move on. His concept a sort of biking political Wiki a place for information, discussion and research. A way for anyone interested in the issues to get involved express an opinion. As he put it with a bit of smart software we could even offer a real collective view direct to politicians and opinion formers at all levels, not big brother big society. No membership, no fees, no self-interest, no fighting to be in the gang. No nasty little bits and pieces around the back to keep out newcomers. Ok it’s a dream, but then Bill Gates had one too.

Hey perhaps the real bikers are coming the ones with the interesting ideas not just the same old same old re cycled.

The Federation Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM) is inviting you to participate in the voting for their annual Rider of the Year Awards.

You can cast your vote for Rookie of the Year, Woman Rider of the Year and Personality of the Year here… What’s more you could win a prize with among other things a Tag Heuer watch up for grabs.

 Have fun, ride safe, and may your social network ride with you!

© Back Roads Rider 2010

5 Comments leave one →
  1. November 10, 2010 6:26 pm

    “where are the MAG and BMF forums for discussion and policy forming,”

    …aren’t they called local group meetings?

    Online forums have their uses but there are plenty of people who’d still rather talk about things face to face.

    • Dick Turpin permalink
      November 10, 2010 8:17 pm

      As an example, the No to Bike Parking Tax people used V for Vendetta as the “hook” for their latest campaign on November 5th.

      It wasn’t clear how many riders actually took part, but I got the impression that there were quite a few dissidents – supported by London cabbies. It was clever, professional and I suspect, menacing.

      On the 8th of November the RAV posse went to meet a few MPs at Portcullis House, chats with tea and biscuits perhap? Who knows, but the only photo to provide evidence of this “mass rally” (allegedly of almost 100 riders) was a photo of 12 people and a bust of Margaret Thatcher.

      So my question – which group made the biggest impact?

      What seems to be evident, for riders who think – is that the BMF/MAG aka the RAV posse – while singing from the same hymn sheet and possibly in tune, they seem to be singing the wrong hymn.

      Maybe their piano needs tuning??

  2. Ian Cook permalink
    November 12, 2010 8:41 am

    “So where are the MAG and BMF forums for discussion and policy forming?”

    Where they’ve always been – local, regional and national meetings (face to face or via email, facebook etc.) Get yourself out from behind your keyboard, whinging and sniping anonymously, and join the activists in the real world.

    “It’s not your views, your issues, being delivered it’s theirs”

    Who are ‘they’? I can’t speak for the BMF, but MAG policy and strategy is supposedly driven by its members. However, the number of bikers that can be bothered to join is pathetic (about 1%) and of those, fewer and fewer activists are coming forwards.

    “a real advantage of supporting SN campaigns and causes its free”

    You maybe hit the nail on the head here – the reason fewer bikers are joining/becoming active is that they think they can be part of the ’cause’ from the comfort of their own computer – it’s free in terms of time, effort and discomfort as well as financially.

    Freedom isn’t free. Get a grip on reality and, if you wish to save biking rather than blog about how ‘you told them so’ when motorcycling is effectively dead, participate in real-world activities – that way you may make a real difference to the cause rather than just boosting your misguided ego.


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