is technology changing politics?

Posted by on December 15, 2008 in geeky stuff | 0 comments

Following on from the Obama blog the other day and having finished 2 books by Patrick Dixon in the last week or so – I’ve been thinking a lot about the future of politics. (Yes, I’m aware I need to get out more)

As the pace of change increases people seem to be looking for things that make them feel like they can make a difference in this uncertain world.

On twitter today, from 10-11am David Cameron was giving a new conference at Reuters, you could ask a question by using the #askdc hashtag*- mine was: “Do you think that the strength of single issue politics has made the current political party system useless?”

*hashtag – the # character and a short sequence of characters that acts, like a tag allowing you to easily group tweets from a variety of people on one subject. It allows you to create a conversation for a specific theme or event i.e. conferences often use tags like #myconf09. You can then search and see replies to that specific hashtag, which is a lot easier than wading through pages with relevant words that might not be related to that specific idea. you can use twitter search to find #tags or

Technology enables single issue politics.

Take the Baby P example – the issue prompted people to sign up to facebook groups (2000+ I believe in one local group related to baby P) and generally soak up the media “outrage” (I hate using quotes but I do feel these were heavily stoked by sensationalist reporting) without actually doing much.

Of the 2000+ people who joined the dorset march for baby p facebook group, around 20 people showed up to the actual protest. Is this mobilisation of the masses? Hardly.

You often hear people say that more people vote on a big brother final than in a general elections (Not true btw: 2.7million vs about 18million) – this is possibly true for younger age groups where it is ESTIMATED that more young people aged 18-34 voted on BB than in the last election.

All of these things do add up, technology has created a world where issues are picked up and shared at such a pace, it must be almost impossible for politicians to keep up.

Voter apathy is caused by the politicians responses to these single issues rarely differing and the perception (and reality) that most political discussion is just shallow point scoring on detail and scandal.

Would it not be better to enable the masses to vote on single issues in some central way and just have MPs as representatives of their local area only and not as an illusion of some political ideal?

Or would this be creating a state by mob rule, based on sensationalised news bites?

UPDATED: X factor voting – 16.5million votes cast across the series – be interesting to know how many voters that was.

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