Friday, May 7, 2010

Blogs on the BBC

[I'm writing this post considerably after the fact, as I chew through a pipeline of started-but-not-finished-until-weeks-later material. Nonetheless, now that I've finally read from top to bottom the piece I'd meant to comment on, I found I still had a comment or two. So here goes.]

The BBC's Rory Cellan-Jones, who seems to have blatantly lifted my "figuring out the web" theme (how dare he?), blogs under the headline So was it an internet election? My first reaction was, "internet election?" that sounds so ... Blair era.

Mind, I haven't followed British politics closely for some time, so I hardly knew who Nick Clegg was until I heard the buzz about the televised debates. Hmm ... maybe that's not a good illustration ... let me put it this way: I still have my ceramic fridge-magnet-sized Spitting Image portraits of Messrs Major and Blair, which, back in their day, I would have loved to have stuck on my monitor except that they were about half again too heavy for the suction cup on the back.

But I digress.

Anyway, I was a bit surprised that there would be talk of an "internet election" in 2010. I'd have thought that email campaigns, mad bloggers, Twitter, Facebook and so forth would have been part of the scenery by now. Arguably the 2004 presidential election was the first major "internet election" in the US. Certainly by 2008 the major outlets were falling over each other to see who would be the most net-savvy (sorry, CNN, but a cheezy Max Headroom-style virtual Will.I.Am is not the way to web.cred). Going on the default assumption that the rest of the industrialized world is at least as wired as we are, I would have expected the same in the UK.

Which, actually, seems to be Cellan-Jones's point. Yes, social media etc. were a visible presence, and yes the major parties made the internet a significant part of their machinery, but really other factors loomed larger in determining the actual outcome:
So it wasn't an election won or lost by the internet, but nor was it untouched by the technology. New voters appeared to enjoy their first experience of an election campaign, and will now expect to engage with future elections via the web.
I like the way this guy thinks. Hang on while I add the not-so-disruptive technology tag [hmm ... judging by the dead links in several directions, this blog -- like so many -- was fairly short-lived --D.H. Dec 2015].

Really, it seems like more a matter of timing. The 2005 election may have been too early to really feel like "the internet election" and 2010 too late. Thus has fate robbed the British press of an easy sidebar. Ah well. In the event, 2010 looks to have been newsworthy enough without it.

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