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The Web can change our politics only so fast March 6, 2009

Posted by kewroad in 2009 predictions, government, internet.

Working in tech PR can mean we sometimes miss the obvious because the hype is so strident. One lesson to recall is the impact of new technology on the real world is often more subtle and gradual than we expect or dream.

One example would be how it has taken more than a decade for the Internet to really start killing off newspapers (or at least those less willing to adapt).

Another is how the Web drives democratic change by creating new, easier ways of everybody to participate.

A report on Ars Technica provides a cool appraisal of whether the Web widens the democratic franchise.  Based on research into the US Presidential Election, the answer is the Web  did the reverse of what everyone expected or reported: the Web widened the gap between the rich and poor in terms of political participation. Richer, college -educated citizens turned to online methods to make donations or pledge  while citizens from lower down the social scale chose tradtional methods (send a letter, go to a meeting) – if they did anything at all.

Reason to be depressed? Actually no. We can only push for change when we work with facts and not another 2.0 slogan. So let’s dig into these findings and use them as a basis for a serious attempt to change our politics for the better.



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