Sunday, 20 February 2011

Internet as a campaign tool

The Internet is viewed as a platform and delivery medium for tools that help to eliminate some of the distance constraints in representative democracy. Technical media for e-democracy can be expected to extend to mobile technologies, such as cellphones.

Most importantly, the Internet is a many-to-many communication medium, whereas radio and television, which broadcast few-to-many, and telephones, which broadcast few-to-few, are not. Also, the Internet has a much greater computational capacity, allowing strong encryption and database management, which is important in community information access and sharing, deliberative democracy and electoral fraud prevention. Further, people use the Internet to collaborate or meet in an asynchronous manner—that is, they do not have to be physically gathered at the same moment to get things accomplished.

Using the Internet as a political campaigning tool has become a cheaper and more convenient alternative for many politicians, in comparison to traditional door-to-door knocking or telephone campaigning. Candidates are also beginning to use social networking sites to reach younger audiences, creating potential supporters to campaigns. E-mail chains and political blogs also have had a major impact with online campaigning. Views are expressed by adding comments to political blogs or web pages. Point-and-click advertising (interactive advertising online) also has influenced traditional mail or television campaigning.[16]

The lower cost of information exchange on the Internet, as well as the high level of reach that the content potentially has, makes the Internet an attractive medium for political information, particularly amongst social interest groups and parties with lower budgets.

For example, environmental or social issue groups may find the Internet an easier mechanism to increase awareness of their issues, as compared to traditional media outlets, such as television or newspapers, which require heavy financial investment. Due to all these factors, the Internet has the potential to take over certain traditional media of political communication, such as the telephone, the television, newspapers and the radio. The civil society has gradually moved into the online world.[17]

Another example is, an Australian non-profit eDemocracy project that invites politicians, senior public servants, academics, business people and other key stakeholders to engage in high-level policy debate.

Novel tools are being developed that are aimed at empowering bloggers, webmasters and owners of other social media, with the effect of moving from a strictly informational use of the Internet to using the Internet as a means of social organization not requiring top-down action. Action triggers, for instance, are a novel concept designed to allow webmasters to mobilize their viewers into action without the need for leadership. These tools are also utilized worldwide: for example, India is developing an effective blogosphere that allows internet users to state their thoughts and opinions

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