Steven Noble had an interesting post over at the Hill & Knowlton site, Elbow Grease, a couple of days ago. Under the headline: The digital election is about what voters say to each other, Nobel argues that we spend too much time focusing on the wrong questions when we discuss the concept of "the digital election".
"The concept of "the digital election" has been attracting a lot of attention in Australia, but too much time has been spent answering the wrong question: how will social media affect the political parties and their campaigns?" Noble writes.
His point is that with a focus like that "the answer probably won't be that exciting".
"Sure, some candidates are obtaining small donations from more contributors, thanks to the internet. Certainly, others are reaching voters in new ways using new tools. However, the shift is evolutionary not revolutionary," Noble argues.
In Noble's opinion we should therefore spend less time discussing the effects of social media and instead spend more time viewing how voters are interacting - or speaking, as he puts it - with each other in the social media scene.
"Until recently, voters held their political conversations in private spaces, from the bus stop to the kitchen table. These conversations were separate from the public realm that's occupied by politicians, journalists, PR practitioners and other members of the political class. They sometimes changed how individuals voted, but they almost never became part of the public record. Today, any voter can hold a conversation in public. Every blog post can be found through a Google search. Every statement is part of public debate. Increasingly, these conversations will affect how our nation makes up its mind on election day," Noble writes.
Noble is certainly making a relevant point in his post. We should spend more time reflecting on how the voter-conversation has moved into the public sphere. However, I still believe we need to study how this impacts on the political agenda discussed by the political parties in a campaign.
Noble also led me to some interesting Australian websites where voters can discuss the election.
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