Like many Americans, I am an undecided voter. Not in the way you think, though. I’ve made up my mind about whom to vote for , and mailed in my ballot earlier this week. My mixed feelings are more general, about the direction our politics is taking, the way my generation is voting, and whether Web 2.0 is good, bad or irrelevant for the electoral game. The Internet is a major subject of spin and everything I hear about it, I try to take with a grain of salt. But it certainly seemed plausible to me that the changes in technology would have a dramatic impact on the way we choose political leaders. So I bought much of the hype about Web 2.0 politics. In an early post on this blog (see “Web 2.0 and electoral politics) I wrote about how the Internet demands new levels of authenticity from politicians because it’s easier for voters to cut through media spin with a quick Google search. In a column for the Brown Daily Herald , I examined the impact of the Web 2.0 generation’s values on the party system: the generation of linkability is a lot less loyal to party and more interested in the moderates and mavericks who can bridge divisions. The recent successes of Barack Obama and John McCain seem to confirm that thesis. My insights carry across the Atlantic, I believe—compare David Cameron to Gordon Brown and you’ll get a sense of the political generation gap; then take a guess which of the two has a snazzy blog to reach young voters. As a technology enthusiast, I should be excited about all this movement towards authenticity and away from blind partisanship, whatever my personal candidate preferences. But a few elements of the current U.S. electoral campaign have me questioning myself. First there’s the business of Internet fundraising, which has kept candidates with minimal support (like extremist Ron Paul) electorally viable. Secondly, there’s the silliness and lack of substance in the recent YouTube! debates , where voters were allowed to submit questions to candidates online but chose not to probe the hard policy topics. Thirdly, there’s the fact that when traditional candidates try the Web tactic (Hillary Clinton’s has multiple times ), the attempt falls flat among young voters. Does that mean only young candidates can connect to young voters, online or off? I hope not. So I’m appealing to you—what are the implications of technology in politics, and should I be stoked or scared?
VitaGoat Will Support School Children and Sustainable Development in GhanaThe American Soybean Association (ASA) announced today, World Food Day, that WhiteWave Foods is expanding its commitment to a project that provides nutritious meals to school children in Ghana, as well as supports sustainable economic development in the West African country. WhiteWave Foods is donating $75,000 over the next three years to ASA’s World Soy Foundation (WSF) to increase its partnership with the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA).”The new funding will allow the World Soy Foundation to purchase, transport and install a ‘VitaGoat’ soymilk processing machine, as well as train operators and provide a year’s worth of soybeans,” said ASA Board member Scott Fritz, a soybean farmer from Winamac, Ind., and WSF Board member. “As a result, the VitaGoat will produce enough soymilk to feed a school of 280 children for at least one school year and have sufficient product to sell to the community as a sustainable small enterprise.”The machine will be placed in a rural community in the northern region of Ghana where local farmers grow soybeans.WhiteWave Foods first contributed to the WSF when the foundation was created by the ASA and other soybean grower organizations in late 2006. That initial support of $20,000 aided ADRA’s school feeding in Ghana, which the WSF leveraged through contributions from Iowa soybean farmers.”WhiteWave is once again walking the talk of sustainability in the campaign against global hunger,” said WSF Executive Director Jim Hershey. “This effort will encourage children to attend school where they can receive a nutritious meal while it advances local food production and economic opportunity.”This contribution by WhiteWave Foods, headquartered in Broomfield, Colo., is particularly timely, given recent reports of increased hunger around the world. In September, the Food and Agriculture Organization revised the official number of hungry people worldwide up to 923 million, and projects that the number of urgently hungry could climb to more than a billion next year.”Our partnership has allowed us to strengthen our relationship with the community, local farmers, the national and the local government,” said Dr. William Brown, Country Director for ADRA Ghana. “We look forward to a long and fruitful partnership with the World Soy Foundation in the future, enabling us to make an even greater impact throughout the entire nation.”Ghana, a democratic country, has made economic progress, yet 45 percent of the population still lives on less than $1 a day, according to the United Nations. In some parts of the country, including the north, nearly half of the children are stunted because of under-nutrition.World Food Day is commemorated around the globe every year on Oct. 16, by groups that recognize the need to increase awareness and year-round action to alleviate hunger.The World Soy Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization managed by the American Soybean Association, works collaboratively with humanitarian organizations, corporations, public and private foundations, international organizations, U.S. and international governments, and individuals to deliver soy protein and nutrition education to people in developing nations. Projects sponsored by the WSF include complementary foods for children 6-36 months, school feeding programs and nutrition assessment and research services. More information is available at www.worldsoyfoundation.org.