Skip to main content

The New Democracy

The New Democracy

Back in march, I talked about how the internet will change democracy, by fundamentally changing the way we get our news, and how we share it with each other.

There are indications that this election is starting to see those effects already. Previously, I suggested that, in the future, "Electoral success depends on motivating people, not donors, because people can't be swayed by an increasingly irrelevant broadcast media".

Sen. Obama is burning money at almost 2:1 over Sen. McCain, yet McCain's seen a decent enough boost since the pick of Gov. Palin to break even. Granted, a lot of this is due to the sensationalist coverage of her in the broadcast media, but that coverage comes as a result of the media scrambling (and sometimes clumsily so) for details on someone they thought was an unknown.

So why have I been hearing about Sarah Palin, potential VP pick, since before she had her 5th child? Because I keep my eye on the conservative blogs. I'm not saying that she was the expected pick, but the media reacted as though it came completely out of left-(or, maybe, "right")-field. Traditional media doesn't know what the Internet literati do. That's a powerful statement.

The Internet has the potential to produce an undesirable insulating effect when it comes to politics, however. It allows us to sift through the noise and filter content that we wish to see. It allows us to build our community and social ties around shared interests, instead of shared geography. The more we get entrenched with like-minded people, the more we end up talking to ourselves, and shutting out outside information. This is particularly dangerous for the campaigns themselves, because it distances them from the thoughts, worries, concerns, and ideas of independent voters they need to win any election.

This election cycle, I've noticed the following trends due to this:

* "Message Discipline" is way up among people who aren't on campaign staffs. The True Believers on both sides, dedicated to circulating their propaganda within their own circles, get increasingly out of touch with Independent and swing voters, and increasingly parrot their party lines.

* The campaigns themselves target those swing voters as a demographic needing coercion. While this is not something new, what is new is that these independents are busy informing themselves on the issues that matter to them.

* The media isn't helping these people find the information they want. The media is busy reporting on which demographic segments are leaning which direction, and playing the campaign smear commercials in between. Instead of illustrating the issues and policies of each candidate, they are instead following the populace, who is digging for that information on their own thanks to the Internet, blogs, RSS feeds, and links and writings by the people in their social network. The media, instead of bringing the issues from the candidates down to the people, are lagging behind the people who are using the Internet to go straight to the source.

More evidence that the people are going straight to the candidates to make their decision? The Democratic Convention was the most watched convention, ever. For one week. Then the Republican Convention was the most watched ever. I predict that the debates are seriously going to determine the outcome of this election. America is paying attention. The broadcast and print media just haven't figured out what they paying attention *to*, yet.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Crowdsourcing Curation: The Social Graph as Gatekeeper

I've written before about the compromise we tacitly agree to when amateurs take over the roles formerly held by professionsals. The Internet promotes this takeover by lowering the cost of production and transmission to near zero for nearly every user, for everything from words (blogs) to pictures (Flickr) to video (YouTube).

As Clay Shirky put it so well: As freedom to produce increases, average quality necessarily goes down. For example: Thanks to Flickr, we now have access to a mind-boggling array of beautiful pictures, but that's partly because we simply have access to a mind boggling array of pictures, period. Some of these, of course, are beautiful; but there are a lot more of Aunt Bettie's 43rd picture of a bundt cake than of an Annie Leibovitz Rolling Stone cover.

It is at this point that many people interject: "This is the problem with the internet! It's full of crap!" Many would argue that without professional producers, editors, publishers, and the …

Intellectual Property and Deflation of the Knowledge Economy

[Update: This accidentally became a series of posts on a theme.


Does Intellectual Property Law Foster Innovation?Where I question the efficacy of patent and copyright in a socially networked world.


Intellectual Property and the Deflation of the Knowledge Economy - (this post) Where I toy with the idea that the Knowledge Economy may not turn out to be much of an economy, especially when it comes to Intellectual Property


The Economic Reset Button- Where Jeff Jarvis asks Eric Schmidt whether or not this is a fundamental shift in the economic base


Innovative Deflation- Where I ask, "Is the knowledge economy ripe for growth, or is it the means by which traditional economies are shrunk?" ]

Friday night I was discussing the future of intellectual property law with some friends. My argument, in a nutshell:

Every business model relying on intellectual property law (patent and copyright) is heading for massive deflation in our lifetimes. We've seen it with the music industry and news…

COVID-19 and the Tools We Need to Re-open Wisely

There's a lot of graphs and stats that the news is throwing at people right now. So much so, that you can get information overload trying to make sense of the statistics that have meaning. To quote my old Econometrics professor, "There are three types of lies: 'Lies', 'Damned Lies', and 'Statistics' ". I should also lead with the caveat that I'm an engineer and data nerd by trade, but I'm not an epidemiologist. I welcome feedback from those who have more experience than I do.The most important question we're trying to answer (at least here in Michigan), is "How are we doing?", and "When can we reopen our economy?". With respect to those questions, here's my take on the most important data, and some caveats about what these data are telling us.The four most cited data in news stories are:Total Number of CasesDaily New Cases.Total Number of DeathsDaily New DeathsThis post will talk about #1 and #2 above. I'll …