Blogging Culture

I wrote the below a while ago (February actually!) for the Young Fabians magazine, Anticipations. Whilst some of it is now a bit old (remember Howard Dean anyone?) I think the rest of it still pretty much stands up….
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The last issue of Anticipations suggested politicians could utilise mobile phone technology to reengage the disenfranchised political masses. But despite the popularity of phones, it’s the deeper and more immersive experience provided by the web that makes it the new political platform of choice.
In America, the (now defunct) Presidential campaign of Howard Dean – http://www.deanforamerica.com/ – utilised the net to mobilise support from many with no previous active political involvement. Where America leads, the world follows, so politicians and strategists will already be deducing lessons from the Vermont Governor’s campaign.
Dean showed the web had real power – and wasn’t just a gimmick, although it continues to enjoy that function too: the Presidential Selector (http://www.selectsmart.com/president/ – a site which gets you to answer questions on issues such as tax, in order to ‘calculate’ your Presidential candidate of choice,) being one good example.
The BBC is trying to use the web to connect people – as Dean did – through a new service called I-Can, an online forum providing: “Impartial information, help with getting started [&] ways to contact people who share your concern[s]”.
The site originated from a recognition that whilst many people are turned off by traditional politics and political broadcasting – they can be highly politically motivated when the mood takes them: the anti-war rallies is a prominent example of this, the more low-key victory of an independent MP for Kidderminster in the 2001 General Election another.
Radio talk shows have provided a forum for the diverse views and passions of Joe Public for years, but the web is unique – offering people the chance to contribute what they want, when they want it – unrestricted by broadcasting schedules, and editorial strictures.
Moreover voicing your views on the web is easy. Blogging is just one method, and as Rob Dex shows, allows anyone to be a publisher, sharing their views with whoever finds and wants to read them. No one thinks blogs are going to change the world, but Bloggers are the pamphleteers of 21st Century – historically only a few will ever be remembered, but for now they’re broadening the political debate, and that can only be a good thing.
So get reading and get blogging!

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