Thursday, February 02, 2006

Where next?

Last night, I met more interesting people that I normally meet in a month at a New Statesman event called Politics and New Media - Where Next?

A few things came up that I'm going to return to in subsequent posts, but before I do that, here's a declaration of interest.

I work on an e-democracy project called It was largely my idea, and a part of my job and the success of the company that I co-own (it's a smallish co-op) is dependent on it.

I have referred to it a few times on this blog before, but each time, I've partly wished I hadn't because a commercial interest can often reduce the perceived value of any post.

But I'm going to start adding more to this blog about how new technology is likely to change the way the public interact with The Man, and this will include stuff I've learned while working on this project. I want this project to succeed because I think it's a good one, and the posts will reflect that. But the views expressed will be mine alone.

I'll blog about it because I'm interested in it, and anyone who knows me will know that I'd say all of this stuff anyway, even if I didn't have a commercial interest in it.

The reason I've a monomaniacal obsession with representative democracy isn't because I'm working on this project. It's the other way around. I came up with the idea because I thought that the people who we vote for have been the spectre at the lavish feast of e-government, and I wanted to put that right.

So. More on the New Statesman event when I get time. More on Jo Twist's ideas about how gaming will offer new opportunities for people to interact and organise themselves for material ends.

(update 3.2.06: There's a good account of Jo's talk here)

More about the 'They Work For You' project that I had an argument with a few people about (and something that I probably have to do some bridge-building on as a result).

But I'll leave you with a quote from my old mate Bill Thompson*.

"Direct Democrats are worse than the Nazis** - at least with Fascism, you know who's in charge."

* Very nice bloke. But he's needed a haircut for as long as I've known him
**See Godwin's Law - NTaH ibid


Andrew Brown said...

One of the challenges you/we have is that most of us politicians haven't yet worked out the benefits of being on the web, and are perhaps uncertain about the additional value it creates (or the ones it does create are worth the candle).

Thats not to say the fight's not worth having of course.

Paulie said...

There are all sorts of statistics that I could dig up that show how important demographic groups will interact with politicians on-line - while refusing to interact with them at surgeries / public meetings or even on their doorsteps.

Similarly, there are all sorts of arguments of the kind that Alistair Campbell would use about how politicians need to go direct to the public instead of through those lying distorting bastards who run the newspapers.

But I think that the most important one is still the 'representative democracy' one. This (the UK) is a relatively free and safe place to live. We are also more materially prosperous than any of our ancestors. And this is substantially due to the representative character of our democracy. And that character is likely to be eroded if Civil Servants, pressure groups, commercial interests or the media become significantly better than politicians are at interacting with the public.

It's a harder argument to make, but it's one that we (trans: you and me Andrew) have to make whenever we can.

MatGB said...

Shows how much attention I've been paying, didn't even know Staggers was holding an event, let alone so many people would be there, got your comment as I was talking to John Elledge from atlantic rift, who was also there it seems.

Getting politicians online and blogging is something I'm definately up for encouraging, like the idea of that info site. What did you say about they work for you; positive or negative? I like it it many ways, especially the RSS feeds, finding out when the local MPs do stuff is always good.

Incidentally; livejournal feed, and, to make it easier for me and others, put up a direct link to your atom feed? right click/copy link location is so much quicker than auto discover...

Not sure about the quote, the problem with Godwin is it's so often done that when the analogy is accurate (Big Lie and the Bush administration for example) it gets discounted. But it amuses. Not sure it's that bad though...

Paulie said...

The comments on They Work For You are here:

I think it's an audacious project that gets public bodies to do things that they should do but don't want to.

I have misgivings though as the post shows.