From RN Future Tense: Our nod to the federal election campaign and an update on Gov 2.0 initiatives

Here’s the road map: we’ll start by doing a reality check on the use and value of social media during the current federal election campaign; then we’ll look at the Gillard administration’s ‘Declaration of Open Government’; and we’ll end in the US with an update on Barack Obama’s progress in implementing Gov 2.0.

Sorry. On a bit of a podcast bender at the moment! However, this is a great reality check on the state of the Australian 2010 election online.

I actually find myself agreeing with a lot of what Stilgherrian had to say:

  • The major political parties have applied a “veneer of web 2.0” to the campaign, but are still talking at people;
  • People are fooled by people delivering the party line online;
  • The number of people on Twitter is still quite small and doesn’t reflect the all important marginal seats or the totality of swinging voters;
  • Getting a marketing message to go viral – in any sphere – involves luck; and
  • Following from the last point, you can’t ramp up and create an active and influential online community overnight.

Personally, I think its quite likely that we will see a similar impact as seen in the UK election.

However, there are a couple of things I don’t think FutureTense really addressed in this episode:

  • The impact of our changing media and information consumption habits;
  • The fact that political conversations are taking place online – but not just on Twitter and Facebook (so just because it isn’t easy to aggregate the conversation, it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening);
  • How polling and listening to social media might be different; and
  • How traditional mediums, like TV – for example Q&A – are incorporating social media into the mix, so it is a complementary channel.

I also agree with Nicholas Gruen that the Declaration of Open Government was a bit of a fizzer, but I remain optimistic. However, the ethereal levels of open government isn’t where the real change is happening. I’m seeing increasing interest from government agencies in developing social media strategies, but these are aimed at engaging online with communities, and looking for ways to be more efficient and effective. This is grass roots, practical Government 2.0 and social innovation that everyone understands – and this will be around long after the election ends.

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