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Canada: still on Politics 0.2

Will we ever break out of our tiny online echo chambers?


 

He didn't come home for you...for me to poop on.

During the last federal election it was my job to report on the Internet’s impact on the campaign for CBC Radio One. At times, this felt like reporting on the impact of felt puppets on the campaign, which is to say, there was none.

Sure, we had a scrappy little political blogosphere and a few early politico-tweeters, but they were operating in tiny echo chambers or isolated flame-silos. Either they were preaching to the converted or arguing with the same handful of critics, day in, day out. Reporting on their musings and diatribes felt ludicrous—these were wonks of little consequence, and nothing they said had much effect on any party’s agenda. If they were newsworthy (a big “if”), it was because of how they were communicating, not what they were communicating.

At the same time, I was filing stories on the online side of the American presidential election. Now that was fun. America’s political Internet was wild and wily, full of rumor-mills and truth squads, hacktivists and pranktivists, “money bomb” micro donations and influential bloggers who could genuinely disrupt the news cycle and throw real curveballs into politics as usual.

Obama’s social media strategy is the best remembered aspect of this time, but it didn’t come out of nowhere. It was built on the fragments of Howard Dean’s failed bid for the Democratic nomination and the DailyKOS community, facing down Drudge, Breitbart, and a legion of aggrieved cranks who would come to form the Tea Party.  Here was digital politics as an all-inclusive, full-contact bloodsport. What happened online mattered.

Meanwhile, we had a pooping puffin.

Have Canadian online politics evolved since the last election?  We’re certainly more wired than we were three years ago—hell, we’re the most socially networked nation on the planet. But does this mean we’ve become more engaged and active with our democracy, or are we fundamentally lacking a popular political culture, online or off?

If there are signs of hope for this cycle, I’d love to hear about them.


 
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Canada: still on Politics 0.2

  1. "wonks of little consequence" – now that's cold. It's not like we don't know, but did you really need to salt the wound like that?

  2. "wonks of little consequence" – now that's cold. It's not like we don't know, but did you really need to salt the wound like that?

    • "Wonks of Little Consequence," sounds positively Alexander Pope. I immediately thought, "Damn with faint praise, Assent with civil leer." Beautiful political insults. Well done!

  3. I don't think much has changed. "The media" seem to have deemed this election as being all about Twitter. Which is of course ridiculous. Most voters won't be following anybodies Twitter feeds, and those who do are probably partisan political junkies anyway.

    All parties seem to be using YouTube exclusively for releasing the same garbage they release on TV or radio, which is to say they all view it as just another channel on the dial. They still think they need to cram their message into a 30sec. spot even though they've got as much time as they want.

    Facebook. Yikes! Who would want to be seen "liking" any politician on Facebook? Unless you're a party operative, it's highly unlikely that you're willing to attach you're own name to any of these clowns.

    But all around, I think it's mostly just a reflection of Canada's general apathy towards politics. Most people don't care about politicians, and politicians don't care about most people. Online or offline.

  4. I don't think much has changed. "The media" seem to have deemed this election as being all about Twitter. Which is of course ridiculous. Most voters won't be following anybodies Twitter feeds, and those who do are probably partisan political junkies anyway.

    All parties seem to be using YouTube exclusively for releasing the same garbage they release on TV or radio, which is to say they all view it as just another channel on the dial. They still think they need to cram their message into a 30sec. spot even though they've got as much time as they want.

    Facebook. Yikes! Who would want to be seen "liking" any politician on Facebook? Unless you're a party operative, it's highly unlikely that you're willing to attach you're own name to any of these clowns.

    But all around, I think it's mostly just a reflection of Canada's general apathy towards politics. Most people don't care about politicians, and politicians don't care about most people. Online or offline.

  5. Civics being evaluated for its entertainment value. Deep down, that's pretty shallow.

  6. Civics being evaluated for its entertainment value. Deep down, that's pretty shallow.

  7. I think it's to early to determine how things are going to play out yet. There are a couple of interesting things happening in the background though. There's something really weird happening surrounding the band One Soul Thrust. There have been claims that the band's music has been downloaded on by Torrent over 100,000 times, but when I tried to verify the claims, I was unable to find a single existing torrent. Considering the huge push to try and get Bill C-32 through before the election was held, I think that this is really suspicious.

    BTW, the band's music is really good, I included a link to their ITunes store in my article.

    Next, well, everyone says it's the Twitter election. Have you noticed that most politicians think that Twitter is a ONE WAY means of communication? Only a very few, like Tony Clement, really understand Twitter.

    Last but not least – the outgoing Federal Science Minister is a Chiropractor. Right, we put a man who's degree is in Pseudo Science in charge of Science Policy. Does this make sense?

    Wayne

  8. I think it's to early to determine how things are going to play out yet. There are a couple of interesting things happening in the background though. There's something really weird happening surrounding the band One Soul Thrust. There have been claims that the band's music has been downloaded on by Torrent over 100,000 times, but when I tried to verify the claims, I was unable to find a single existing torrent. Considering the huge push to try and get Bill C-32 through before the election was held, I think that this is really suspicious.

    BTW, the band's music is really good, I included a link to their ITunes store in my article.

    Next, well, everyone says it's the Twitter election. Have you noticed that most politicians think that Twitter is a ONE WAY means of communication? Only a very few, like Tony Clement, really understand Twitter.

    Last but not least – the outgoing Federal Science Minister is a Chiropractor. Right, we put a man who's degree is in Pseudo Science in charge of Science Policy. Does this make sense?

    Wayne

  9. "Wonks of Little Consequence," sounds positively Alexander Pope. I immediately thought, "Damn with faint praise, Assent with civil leer." Beautiful political insults. Well done!

  10. There are no signs of hope. On any front.

    Keep calm and carry on.

  11. There are no signs of hope. On any front.

    Keep calm and carry on.

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