Sunday, December 06, 2009

Internet Transforming Politics and the Media

One example of a journalist who cannot be accused of not giving a topic the depth of analysis it deserves is the ABC's Eleanor Hall. She has just completed studies at Oxford University Internet Institute on the use of the Internet in politics. Her carefully researched 37 page Trinity Term Reuters Institute Fellowship Paper "Politics in the Youtube Age: Transforming the Political and Media Culture?", is available online. She argues that Obama's use of the Internet was not the grassroots campaign it was portrayed as, but had strong central coordination.

I concluded that the Obama campaign is less revolutionary than it at first appears and that there are a range of reasons why it is unlikely that British politicians will follow even some of the more riskfree elements of the Obama e-campaign.

The Obama campaign showed that online social networking can be a powerful political tool and the US President’s web supporters are justified in claiming this as the first election victory for YouTube politics. But it also showed that a web 2.0 community can be harnessed to a fairly traditional campaign hierarchy and could be open to manipulation by the very political gatekeepers it claims to
be challenging.

Obama’s is a story of how web 2.0 helped an outsider to get into the race for the White House but then how the candidate’s campaign used social networking to increase several important levers of its power. The campaign amassed a huge database of supporter contacts and information, it raised the biggest war chest of funds in US history and it used the web to marshal and direct its online supporters. It also used the internet to counter one of the other political power centres in the campaigning environment, the mainstream media. In doing all of this there were negotiations made and, sometimes uneasy, alliances formed.

The Obama team directed political activity but did not squash dissent, as campaign directors in a TV age campaign might have done. It broke away from the old “war room” approach to data that was characterised by secrecy and central control and gave supporters more autonomy in the way they involved themselves in the political campaign. The web 2.0 community showed it was powerful and Obama’s embrace of it meant many more citizens did engage in the political process. But this was still a political campaign with the goal of winning power and was strikingly similar in key respects to an old-style top down, command and control political operation.

As for British politicians emulating elements of the Obama e -campaign to re-engage citizens and reinvigorate the democratic process, most players agreed it appears unlikely to happen any time soon, despite the expenses crisis. While many MPs and citizens are increasingly using web 2.0 to engage in politics, institutional and cultural differences between the US and the UK make it unlikely Britain will ever see Obama-levels of enthusiasm for using web 2.0 in political campaigns. ...

From: Politics in the Youtube Age: Transforming the Political and Media Culture?, Eleanor Hall, Trinity Term, Reuters Institute Fellowship, University of Oxford, 2009

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Australian Science Media Centre

Had a call from the Australian Science Media Centre (AusSMC) with a query from a journalist. This is an interesting looking independent, non-profit service for connecting the media to the scientific community. They are sponsored by several Australian governments and media organisations.

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Tuesday, April 29, 2008

What is the news from 1911?

Google now has a news archive which can show a timeline, with news items sort by dates mentioned in the articles. I was looking for my name and was surprised to find a mention for 1911. This turned out to be a blog posting from me about Marion Mahony Griffin's sketches of for the 1911 Canberra design competition. This was quoted in the Technorati blog, which apparently rates as a news source for Google.

The distinction between a media release, a blog and a newspaper seems to be blurring. This will take some getting used to. I am more comfortable with the old fashioned system, where the journalist took a copy of my media release and rewrote it to pretend it was their own work. ;-)

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Online journalism with, Canberra

National Library of Australia Digital Culture talk

The internet revolution has been the greatest structural shock to hit the mainstream media since the introduction of television. founder Stephen Mayne will assess how online journalism is fundamentally changing traditional media and whether any of the so-called 'user-generated content' of Web 2.0 should even be called journalism. Whilst some media companies are now embracing the internet as an opportunity and dominating the space, many are feeling seriously threatened. And with such an extraordinary fragmentation and proliferation of information in cyberspace, what is the role of libraries in recording journalism's traditional 'first draft of history approach' to the news as it unfolds?

Date: 29 August 2007
Time: 12.30 to 13.30
National Library of Australia Theatre
Entry: Free

The speaker, Stephen Mayne, will be introduced by Michele Huston, Director Web Publishing, National Library of Australia.

Bobby Graham
Web Content Manager
Web Publishing Branch, IT Division
National Library of Australia
Tel: +61 2 6262 1542

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Climate Change Announcement by Australian Prime Minister

John Howard, Australian Prime Minister, statement on Climate ChangeThe Australian Prime Minister, John Howard, made a brief statement on Climate Change on 17 July 2007 (136 seconds). What seems to have got much of the attention is that it was done using Internet technology.

Today I am announcing a further $627 million in practical new measures to tackle global warming, bringing total spending on climate change initiative since 1996 to about $3.4 billion.

This will include $336 million for green vouchers for schools to improve energy and water efficiency.

Every school in Australia will be eligible for a voucher of up $50,000 to help install solar hot water systems and rainwater tanks.

Not only will this help reduce energy and conserve water, but it will provide students and our school communities with a first-hand lesson in how we can act locally to preserve the environment.

I will also be announcing a `cap and trade' emissions trading system that will help Australia substantially lower our domestic greenhouse gas emissions at the lowest cost. ...

As well as the text transcript on the web, there is a Flash video version on the same page, a link to a 5.9 Mbyte high quality version, and an audio version.

The video was also made available on YouTube. However this is a risky communications strategy: it is difficult to tell the official announcement from the spoof by John Clarke and Dawe.

The statement followed the Prime Ministerial Task Group on Emissions Trading Final Report.

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

China New Media Conference 2007: Money, Art and Governance

QUT Creative Industries PrecinctThese are some thoughts on the China New Media Conference in Brisbane last week. Items from the event are listed under "China".

The essential point seemed to be that you could do online digital media in China for profit, or artistic purposes, and slip in a little political comment in it, as long as you were careful to self censor.

One theme running through the conference was the effect of the Beijing Olympics on new media. I was with the skeptics on that one. The Olympics is not going to see a blossoming of digital video art on 3G phones and the like.

QUT's Kelvin Grove campus, where the event was held, is most impressive. Having part of the ABC on site (relocated from the abandoned Toowong offices) ads to the media atmosphere. The campus is an interesting combination of education, business and real estate development.

The QUT's digital art gallery I was less impressed with: this is essentially a big white empty building (with as much warmth as the NASA Vehicle Assembly Building) . In place of art, it has images projected on the blank walls. It would have helped if they had thought to install some human comforts, such as a toilet.

Thanks to the Online Opinionites for buying me pizza. There is a discussion of China and democracy running in the OO forum.

ps: What was the Wiki conference some people were at in the same venue?

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