I hear there’s something called “blogs…”

“I wonder what’s happening in Norwegian politics” is a question you haven’t been asking yourself lately. Even so, Espen here at Blog Campaigning wanted me to write something about it, and considering we’re in the run-up to the campaign season I figured I might as well take a look at how the internet is likely to be used in the campaign.

First of all, it seems that the guys and girls who work with communications at the different party offices have discovered there’s more to the internet than banners and websites.

No, not blogs. It seems that there’s still only a couple of members of parliament blogging, and other that that there’s only one or two who are in some kind of a position within their party who blog. My bet is that this will probably change as the campaign draws closer. There are a few reasons for this, but the main one is that Norway’s largest online newspaper, Verdens Gang (1,2 million online readers daily is quite impressive in a country of 4,5 million people) will offer all candidates in the forthcoming municipal elections their own blogs on the paper's website. Add to this the chance of actually making the (web) frontpage of Verdens Gang if you write something interesting enough, then that should be an incentive for a large number of candidates to sign up. This will of course also create a large number of unbelievably boring blogs which will be filled with pictures (indeed, pictures. high-tech, no?) of shoddy roads and endless rants about how we need to fill those potholes. And these blogs will of course be vastly more effective in generating attention than well-written ones that concern themselves with questions about the right of the majority to impose their will on the minority in a liberal democracy.

In Norway political advertising on TV is forbidden so online video has gained in popularity recently. Some of the youth parties have been using YouTube for a good while, but when Verdens Gang released their own video service, making videos available for a much wider audience (mainly because they put videos they deem interesting or newsworthy enough on their frontpage) it became genuinely worthwhile to use videos. First out was the Minister of International Development, Erik Solheim who released a video in which he talked about something. I just honestly can’t remember what because it was utterly boring. However it gave you a good idea of how most of these videos will look: camera aimed at someone talking for a couple of minutes. No cuts, no production, nothing. Especially the Labour Party has been effective at using videos. Lately the Conservative party has also gotten some attention around a few videos: Both done by talking directly at the camera.

Since I feel the need to honk my own horn I should point out that the Norwegian Young Conservatives have probably been the most efficient in using videos, both in terms of the number of videos that have been on the frontpage of Verdens Gang and how they look.

I’m also guessing that the Conservatives will get some attention if they only ever get around to using this one in an effective way. Videos will be important in the upcoming election I’m pretty certain.

Facebookmania is upon Norway . The media is involved in what seems to be an almost official competition about who can find the most creative way to do a story that involves Facebook (so far the award goes to the journalist who figured out that a famous attorney had friends). So far it remains to see how effectively it can be used in campaigns as a tool for organizing events, synchronizing messages etc, but for now it’s a very effective tool for getting attention from the media. Some have had to learn that being a member of a group that’s dedicated to hating a local phenomena is not a good way to get attention. Others have figured out that simply telling someone they’re running a campaign on Facebook is a way for the local newspaper to get to write about Facebook, for which they’re grateful. It remains to be seen if the hype will make it to the actual campaign period. I doubt it. But for now it’s a good way to get your name in the paper.

My guess is that these tools will be mostly used to get attention in the traditional media (including online news sources which should be considered traditional by now), not as independent campaign tools. In order for that to work they need something smart enough to go viral, and right now it certainly seems they’ll need outside help for that.

- Odd (yes, it is my real name!)