Blogging the election

The Oxford Internet Institute is running a series of Blogging roundtables. They are open to anyone, and I went along to the first one earlier this month.Kevin Anderson, blogs editor at The Guardian, was speaking on “Blogging the election”. A podcast of the talk is available here.Kevin referred to a number of studies to back up his claim that blogging increases participation in the political process, although it is not possible to tell which came first – are bloggers more likely to be political activists or are political activists more likely to be bloggers.More interesting to me were the ideas about how blogging and other forms of user-generated content are changing the political process, and making politicians and the press more accountable.Doggedly pursuing their own agendaPorkbusters, who aim to “blog the waste out of government”. They used crowdsourcing to track down a senator who was blocking legislation, by a process of elimination. Since the talk, there has been another similar case where The Superdelegate Transparency Project has been tracking down who the Superdelegates in the Democratic convention are going to vote for, and whether or not it reflects the votes from their state.Keeping stories runningThe news cycle in the USA is notoriously fickle. Some stories run and run. Some are a flash in the pan. And some just never make it into the mainstream. Blogs are being used to keep a story rumbling along in the background until something shifts and the mainstream media decide it is worthy of attention. An example of this is Talking Points Memo, which pursued a story about the Bush administration firing attorneys. This eventually broke in the mainstream press and led to the resignation of the Attorney General.In a similar vein, blogs follow up on what has been reported elsewhere, and challenge the facts and assertions. Pressthink was given as an example of this.If we are talking mass appeal, however, you can’t beat YouTube. This has been used extensively in the election by campaigns and enthusiasts. Speeches given by the candidates have been uploaded and some have been viewed hundreds of thousands of times. The music video style remixes – millions. Have a listen – it’s inspiring in a very non-specific way.How does this relate to technology, education and learning? Well, mostly it is just inspiring, but it also demonstrates some great use of collaborative technology and some exciting examples of where new creators of content and new activists are challenging the status quo.