Have been thinking about analogies ahead of a presentation I’m to give on eDemocracy in the UK. And with our domestic football season coming to an end, I’ve been thinking along footballing lines and playing about with this angle…
If we think of the web or politics as having football-like leagues, then taking an interest in eDemocracy is remarkably like following a lower-league team.
Our grounds are basic and scrape by on low attendances. There’s very little in the way of pace, skill and glamor in the games. Times are often tough: sometimes there’ll be wonder goals or occasional shots at the big-time if we make cup competitions, but these occasions are few and far between. Players come and go, the team goes up and down in the league but on the whole very little changes.
Nevertheless, fans of these teams pride themselves on their tireless devotion, their commitment and their ability to recall every single minute detail about the team’s history and current performance. Other fans and outside observers respect us and feel sorry for us in equal measure. It makes us happy to be a fan of our team, but the reality is that its existence is only of passing interest and importance.
The rock we cling to is the feint prospect of promotion.
In the case of eDemocracy, promotion means joining mainstream politics, consistently attracting big-name players, bagging a lot of spectacular and well-worked goals and, crucially, attracting hundreds of thousands of new fans, so that when you are at a game and you turn around the terraces don’t feel so lonely anymore.
But how to get that promotion?
Do we need a lucky spell (like the Downing Street petitions), an industrious team (like MySociety), a star player (like Gordon Brown), a cult manager (like Professor Stephen Coleman) or an injection of cash (like WebCameron)?
And another important question is if promotion was won tomorrow would our sites, our communities, our processes all be ready for it? Remember the football teams who have found themselves in the premier leagues only to plunge back down under the demands of playing in the top flight.