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e-Democracy update - 13/9/06 - GetUp! nominated for top ten, Aussie YouTube ads, and US Facebook candidates

13 September, 2006
By Daniel Macpherson

GetUp! Founders nominated for top 10

The founders of political advocacy group GetUp! are one of the 20 finalists in a top 10 list for e-democracy movers and shakers.

PoliticsOnline and the World E-Gov Forum this week released the 20 finalists, which included GetUp! founders David Madden and Jeremy Heimans, in the lead up to their Top 10 Who Are Changing the World of Internet and Politics.

GetUp! co-founder David Madden says it is a great honour to be among the 20 finalists.

"It's also really good that people around the world are recognising some of the innovative things that are happening in Australia on this front," Mr Madden says.

Mr Madden says it is fantastic to see how GetUp! has involved more people in Australian politics.

"You often hear commentators bemoaning Australians' political apathy, but that hasn't been our experience. GetUp now has 135,000 members," he says.

"These members aren't just signing petitions, they are emailing their MPs, they're calling their Senators, they're writing letters to newspapers, they're attending public events, and they're donating money."

GetUp! executive director Brett Solomon offers praise to the duo for starting the organisation.

"They are visionaries in how they understand the political landscape in how democratic countries can be transformed using the internet," Mr Solomon says.

A World e-Gov Forum spokesperson says the duo received a nomination for successfully adapting e-campaigning to the unique nature of politics "Down Under" while "bringing a new generation of Australians back into the political process and inspiring a host of new online initiatives".

The twenty finalists for the top 10 list are:

Visit the World e-Gov Forum for more information.

Vote for the winners here.

YouTube hosts amateur political ad from Australia

The author of an amateur political advertisement criticising Prime Minister John Howard has published his work on video sharing website You Tube.

Video creator Dave Williams says YouTube has allowed him to reach a potential audience with his political message that would have been impossible to do so before.

"Thanks to YouTube, average, working Australians are allowed to get their message across to other Australians," Mr Williams says.

"Previously, only the Big Business elites had this luxury, and misused their power to provide positive coverage to politicians who sided with their interests over those of average, working Australians.

"Working families are hurting and this video is a reflection of average Australians asking the Liberals to stop siding with their Big Business elite buddies and start siding with average Aussie working families."

Road to Surfdom blogger and political commentator Tim Dunlop, who published links to the video on his blog, says he hopes the ad will encourage more Australians to publish political video.

"My view is that technologies such as YouTube... potentially provide a way for ordinary people, political activists and others outside the larger institutions of mainstream politics -- that is, people without large budgets and mainstream access -- to have an impact on public debate," Mr Dunlop says.

"Journalists and politicians are so used to one-way traffic that they don't listen very well.

"This technology can force them to listen, though I must say, the tendency at the moment is simply to be dismissive.

"I don't want to exaggerate the possibilities and get all triumphalist, but anyone who just dismisses these developments as a self-deluding echo chamber is simply not being realistic."

View Tim Dunlop’s Road to Surfdom blog here.

View the advertisement here.

Facebook adds candidate profiles

Social networking website Facebook has a new feature solely for US political candidates to add profiles.

US Candidates can now add and maintain their profile for a minimum advertising price as part of Facebook’s new Election 2006 feature, which was launched last week.

Facebook marketing director Melanie Deitch says there has been a lot of interest among political candidates to profile themselves on the site.

"Facebook users are a politically vocal group. Political debate and conversations about social issues are hot topics on Facebook," she says.

The service is already attracting attention from several candidates such as Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty.

Gov Pawlenty’s campaign manager Mike Krueger says he is developing a plan to reach college-age voters through Facebook.

"It's about communicating with people where they go and where they spend time," he says.

Mr Krueger says many of these young adults are simply working to establish their political identities.

Users of Facebook can edit their profiles to include their favourite candidates. New users can sign-up on Facebook's main page.

US candidate uses video e-mail

A US candidate for a Lieutenant Governor position is using a new type of campaign communication technology: video e-mail.

Democrat Candidate for Lieutenant Governor of California John Garamendi sent a trial video e-mail to 1,100 supporters.

Garamendi campaign director Terry Leach says the trial e-mail works well.

"We've used it twice and we intend to use it again in two-and-a-half weeks," he says.

Last month, SightSpeed merged with campaign technology provider ElectionMall Technologies to help political candidates communicate with their constituents.

Kenya keeps watch on MPs via website

A new website will allow Kenyans to track all bills, parliamentary debates and background information of all areas of government.

The website, Mzalendo, also provides biographies of MPs in Kenya's parliament.

The site is a joint project between Ory Okolloh, a Harvard Law School graduate, and a Nairobi-based technology sector worker who writes a blog under the name M.

Read Ory Okolloh's blog here.

Read M's blog here.

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