Where there’s a will…

Tonight is the Hansard Society’s eDemocracy event in the Scottish Parliament, and on Friday its the Scot Web 2 Conference at Edinburgh University.

I was looking forward to attending both, but I’m going make neither. Illness in the family.

I want to apologise to Alex Stobart in particular for dropping out because I was due to be leading one of the sessions.

At both events I wanted to make some time for discussing the issue of political will for engagement, and more specifically online engagement.

Is there the will amongst our politicians to involve the people of Scotland in the democracy of the nation, I believe there is. But it’s a will that is blocked, by what I’m not sure – it could be party politics, it could be resources, it could be a cultural thing. And if we figure out what the block is – well, what do we do about it? What is the vision of the e-enabled Scottish polity, what is the role of the elected representative and how can we as citizens, activists, practitioners and critics support them and hold them to account?

This issue is key. I’ll be interested in what the speakers and the delegates at both events have to say on the matter.

It’s getting to that time again – the general election on the web

On Thursday there’s an event on at the US Embassy where a panel will present their thoughts on the influence of the web on the US election and, laterally, what it all might mean for the UK.

This will be the first of a flurry of online campaigning analysis as minds begin to focus on a general election at some point in the next two years.

Online campaigning is interesting for lots of different reasons: for academics it means data, the media see a rich source of scoops, and the parties see massive PR potential, if not a direct route to voters. No prizes for guessing what new media consultants see. For the electorate, online campaigning should mean having access to a sufficient amount of information on which to base informed decisions.

While all are agreed on the desirability of electioneering online, there is no agreement on what is feasible and what is worth doing. Online campaigning is still a ‘grey area’, which makes it a nightmare for the regulators – and probably the electorate – but while everything is up for grabs it also means that online campaigning is a rich source of innovation in a otherwise pretty mundane area of politics.

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