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Edemocracy Updates 16/03/07

15 March, 2007
By An Nguyen

"You run, you campaign, you debate" and "they vote"

This is in the motto of a new site called U4Prez, which allows ordinary citizens to "run" their own election campaign by developing their positions on current national politics issues and addressing certain regions to garner local support. Each "candidate" will have a main platform to deliver their messages (biography, what to do as President, soundbite), plus options to post photos and videos. "Candidates" will be rated by the site's users and the winners will receive real, though symbollic, prizes such as the opportunity to receive press coverage via the site operators' media releases and press conferences.

"If it sounds like a crazy idea, it kind of is, but it gives ordinary Americans the chance to test out their political opinions and gauge the public's response," wrote Joshua Levy.

For an example, have a look at this page of one of the currently best-rated "candidates", a high-school student. Real presidential candidates can upload their profile on the site too.  

The Internet unlikely to facilitate democratic engagement: study

The Internet does not seem to have changed the public’s inclination to make submissions to agencies about proposed regulations. This is the major conclusion from a recent study by two George Washington University academics, Steven Balla and Benjamin Daniels, who compared "rulemakings" before and after one of the world’s first systems for electronic commenting was introduced in the United States in 1998. They found that the levels of public participation were almost identical between the two periods.

“Public involvement in rulemaking is not likely to become vastly more prevalent in the information age, confounding both hopes of democratization of the process and fears of costly and harmful mass participation,” said Prof Balla in this media release.

YouTube: a new agenda-setter for election campaigns?
YouTube seems to be getting more serious about its increasing influence on the American presidential election campaign with a new initiative called You Choose '08. The page presents users with links to the YouTube channels of the current presidential hopefuls and preliminary information on the date a candidate joined YouTube, the number of videos he/she has created and the number of page views he/she has received.

With this so-called centralized hub of candidate-created channels, YouTube is appaently no longer a mere web hosting service. Maybe a new agenda-setter? 



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