Web 2.0 Voting, revisited

first_imgLike 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?last_img read more

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