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CauseWired on the Beeb

By Tom Watson on November 12, 2008No Comment

BBC blogger Bill Thompson included CauseWired in his election night post last week, and his point about over-hyping the “first real Internet election” is a very good one. After, ask yourself what the candidates spent the most money on. Answer: television advertising, with staffing a distant second. Writes Thompson:

If anything, the election has shown that a campaign cannot do without the internet now, but the network has added to the range of options for reaching out, perhaps encouraging more conversation and interaction but not yet displacing the more traditional forms of engagement with voters.

It’s likely to be the same in the US in 2012, or here when Gordon Brown finally decides to go to the country.

In other worlds, old politics is still potent – though online organizing was like the super-charger on the old straight eight engine:

As long as television and newspapers survive the political process will use them for what they do best, reaching large numbers of people with the same message at the same time.

And the multitudinous forms of online interaction will find their niches too, whether it’s the fake intimacy of tweets from the candidate, the easy activism of a Facebook cause or the angry commitment of bloggers.

And Thompson, who labels me (correctly!) an “old-time Internet commentator,” works in a critique of CauseWired, perhaps over-stating just slightly my love affair with free market solutions (Republican buddies of mine might chuckle).

It documents the outpouring of online support for the people of New Orleans at the time of Hurricane Katrina through the campaign to obtain justice for Mukhtaran Bibi in Pakistan, via Barack Obama’s internet fundraising efforts.

It’s a fascinating read, not least because the principles he outlines for effective online organising are based on his own experiences.

“Small but well-connected can be more effective than huge and widely disbursed”, for example, is something many online community organisers could benefit from realising, as is the call to “invest in conversations.”

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