From Online Politics to E-Government

Via techPresident I found this post on Open Left by Matt Stoller, who, inspired by a conversation with the UK-based nonprofit mySociety, concludes:

I’m going to guess that a good amount of 21st century campaigning will look like the 19th century, with a politicized business community, much stronger local political machines, and engagement levels at 80% or 90%. Local debating societies, nonprofits that do service work and voter turnout, and a blurred line between government and politics are probably in the cards. As social media and public spaces increase in importance in our culture, they will dominate our politics. Right now, internet campaigns take people who like public spaces, harvest their time and money, and use it to target those who want consumer politics. What happens when politics takes place entirely in social public spaces?

mySociety has developed tools that help British citizens become engaged in their community, communicate with elected officials, and even connect with neighbors to improve their street. It reminds me in some ways to Adrian Holovaty’s ChicagoCrime and EveryBlock projects, and the work of the NYC-based Open Planning Project. In a comment on Matt’s post I observed what he’s really talking about is e-democracy, and I believe there’s an important role here for governments to play, whether it’s providing data or hosting the conversation themselves.

Author: Rob Goodspeed