Prime Minister Rudd didn’t visit the Governor General this past weekend as had been expected by many, with the good money now on an October election. But as we watch the waiting game being played, at least we know that a general election is likely within the next 10 to 12 weeks.
Regardless of whether or not an election is actually called in the next few days is kind of irrelevant. Any such announcement will quickly permeate through the social channels of Australia’s politically connected. And from there it will quickly cascade into more traditional channels, and before we know it everyone will know when it will be time to head to the polls.
At this point in time, I think very few would argue that technology hasn’t made many of our daily tasks infinitely easier. The Internet essentially provides us all with a constant stream of information, and smartphones, laptops, and tablets basically keep us “in the loop” wherever we go.
So, whether it’s online banking, booking travel, checking sporting events, or just checking in with family and friends, more and more of us are becoming increasing reliant on our smartphones and “always on” devices. And it is precisely this desire to be always “in the know” that fuels the fundamental desire to leverage social channels for connectivity.
When tapped into strategically, this very “interconnectedness” has a pretty dramatic role in the political arena as candidates and political parties who leverage social media effectively are able to provide their most impassioned constituents with an always-on and increasingly engaged level of digital democratisation.
Many point to Barack Obama’s 2008 Presidential campaign as the moment in time when social media and digital activation actually thrust itself into the political reality and demonstrated how innovative use of email and social platforms could actually make a dramatic impact in the outcome of an election.
His campaign was just the beginning and most political commentators and technologists now point to social media as a driving force behind many of the political movements we see across the globe. From the use of Twitter and Facebook to topple regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, to how Senator Wendy Davis (A female Texas State representative) engaged in a giant crowd-sourced filibuster just a few weeks back that basically influenced legislation directly. Her supporters live-streamed content and leveraged platforms like Twitter and Tumblr to flood the statehouse with raucous support and cheering until the special session was forced to close at midnight.
This weekly column will try to describe how these channels are changing the way we engage in the civic process, and how politics in the digital era is rapidly evolving. It will try to do so through the lens of innovation and effectiveness to demonstrate who is leveraging social media well, and who isn’t.