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e-Democracy update - 11/10/06 - GetUp! media laws petition, Minnesota's YouTube election debate, and Google chief says Internet to change politics

11 October, 2006
By Daniel Macpherson

GetUp! petitions senators online amid media laws debate

Australian online advocacy group GetUp! is asking journalists and the public to petition the federal government as the senate debates new media laws.

The group has established two petitions, one for the general public and one for journalists, to e-mail coalition senators regarding new media laws.

The petitions allow people to send a personalised e-mail to their federal members or parliament and senators based on their postcodes.

GetUp! campaign director Lilian McCombs says over 1,000 journalists and nearly 5,000 members of the general public have sent petition e-mails.

She also says this style of petitioning is significant.

"[Journalists and the public] have gone out of their way to craft their own personalised e-mail," she says.

She also says people will turn to the Internet and blogs for commentary if they do not get enough diversity in commentary.

"And while the Internet has a lot of possibilities, we still need news diversity in our states."

Sign the public petition here.

US candidates use YouTube as part of election e-debates

Several candidates for the gubernatorial election in Minnesota (United States) are using YouTube to present opening statements as part of an online election debate.

Minnesota’s, the group who created the term "e-democracy", and the Blandin Foundation are co-sponsoring an online debate for the 2006 gubernatorial elections on November 7.

Candidates including incumbent Governor Tim Pawlenty (Republican), Peter Hutchinson (Independence), and Ken Pentel (Green) posted opening statements for the debate using YouTube.

Other candidates participating in the debate include Mike Hatch (Democratic-Farmer-Labor), Leslie Davis (American Party) and Walt Brown (Quit Raising Taxes Party).

e-Democracy expert Steven Clift is moderating the debate.

For more information, view the Minnesota Gubernatorial Debate webpage.

Google president says Internet to change and influence politics

The Internet will transform politics and affect the outcomes of elections in the future, according to recent comments from Google’s president.

Google President Eric Schmidt says the current generation of politicians who grew within the context of television only now realise the impact of the Internet on politics.

"The advent of television taught political leaders the art of the sound bite. The Internet will also force them to adapt."

"If television has formed the present generation of politicians, what will the Internet mean for the next generation?"

He says many politicians don't understand the phenomenon of the Internet very well.

"It's partly because of their age ... Often what they learn about the Internet, they learn from their staff and their children.

"The Internet has largely filled a role of funding for politicians… but it has not yet affected elections. It clearly will."

He also says within five years the Internet will allow people to validate statements from politicians against historical data, as part of what he calls "truth predictor" software.

"One of my messages to [politicians] is to think about having every one of your voters online all the time, then inputting 'is this true or false'. [Google is] not in charge of truth but we might be able to give a probability."

Report shows one out of four websurfers click political ads

A recent online survey shows nearly a quarter of people click on political ads.

A report from Internet advertising company Burst Media shows 213 of the 900 surveyed voters click on an advertisement for either a political advocacy group or a political candidate.

Among the 213 people, 43.6 per cent say the have clicked only on an advocacy advertisement, 29.9 per cent only on a candidate advertisement and 26.5 per cent say they have clicked on both.

Burst Media market research manager Chuck Moran says the figures are a powerful argument for candidates and advocacy groups to use the Internet to communicate their ideas to potential voters.

"Their websites are important destinations to influences voters and ads are very effective at getting voters more actively involved with candidates and issues," he says.

For more information, visit Burst Media.

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