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15/11/06 - YouTube wins Democrat victory, Shadow Cancellor Osborne speech, and Clift wants more open US government

15 November, 2006
By Daniel Macpherson

YouTube credited for US Democrat election victory

Many experts are claiming the real winner in the recent US mid-term elections was YouTube.

Associated Press writer Calvin Woodward names YouTube in his list of winners in the 2006 US mid-term election.

He also says videographers are "certain to be a fixture at campaign events from now on, capturing miscues for massive exposure on YouTube and beyond."

"Virginia Sen. George Allen's 'macaca' remark, an obscure racial slur directed at the rival campaign worker who was filming him, became the defining event of his losing campaign against Democrat Jim Webb," Mr Woodward says.

Center for Media and Public Affairs media director Matthew T Felling also cites the Allen remark as proof of YouTube's election impact.

"I really think what slew the [Republicans] was YouTube," Mr Felling says.

"We had 'macaca' endlessly throughout August, throughout September and that took Allen from 30 points ahead down to even."

Recent analysis from market research group Hitwise also shows the top three political websites sending visitors to YouTube are Democrat-leaning.

These sites are Daily Kos, What Really Happened, and Democratic Underground.

YouTube also generated a 63 per cent increase in visits to political websites and sent 88 per cent more of its traffic to political websites in the month before the election, according to Hitwise data.

UK Shadow Chancellor Osborne: Politics and Media in the Internet Age

UK Member of Parliament and Shadow Chancellor George Osborne says the internet revolution is bringing about a decisive shift in the balance of power.

In a recent speech, Mr Osborne says the difference between the internet revolution and traditional media is the "many to many" communication where "everyone is becoming an editor".

"This new democracy is a good thing. It is challenging our existing sources of authority, in the media and in politics, and so it should," he says.

"People are no longer prepared to sit and be spoon fed. They are taking matters into their own hands through their blogs and on-line networks and user-generated content.

"They are spreading news and information to one another on a scale never before thought possible."

Read his full speech here.

Clift calls for more open US government

e-Democracy expert Steven Clift has called for US Congress to improve citizen access to new legislation using the internet.

Mr Clift asked his blog readers to advise Congress on building an open government after comments from new Majority House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that the Democrat majority will build the "most honest, most open, and most ethical Congress in history."

"One of the most important building blocks will be how the institution of the House uses the Internet to provide not just deep access to the information generated by the process or required by ethics filings, but also how the processes themselves are adapted or complemented with technologically enabled options like online committee hearings," Mr Clift says.

He also wants more systems allowing Members of Congress and committees to "listen" to people and not just "process e-mail and traditional constituent communication"”.

Mr Clift provided the example of Advocacy group ReadTheBill.org, which wants Congress to post new bills online for 72 hours before voting.

Arab blogs increasing

More Arabs are turning to blogging to overcome restrictions on free expression in authoritarian and conservative Middle Eastern regions.

Global Voices Online Middle East editor Haitham Sabbah says blog numbers in the Middle East are increasing.

"Several years ago, Arabic blogs in the Middle East could be counted on one hand. Today, they are in the thousands and are becoming a new source for news and information," Mr Sabbah says.

Reports indicate Saudi Arabian blog numbers have reached approximately 2,000 -- triple the amount from the beginning of the year and five times the amount from the year 2000.

However, Saudi Arabia's Deputy Culture and Information Minister Abdullah al-Jasir described electronic media as "dangerous", according to Saudi news reports.

Dr Al-Jasir also said Arab countries would meet in December and seek ways to monitor Internet communication.

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