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e-Democracy update - 8/2/06

08 February, 2006
By Daniel Macpherson

GetUp! delivers e-mail campaign

Political organisation GetUp! has delivered to federal parliament an e-mail petition with over 8,000 participants.

The petition was delivered ahead of a conscience vote on a bill supporting controversial drug RU486.

The bill allows the Therapeutic Goods Administration to determine the access of RU486.

Last week, GetUp! reported 2,500 e-mails sent to Members of Parliament within 24 hours of starting the campaign.

Some Members of Parliament responded to several of these e-mails.

Member for Bruce Allan Griffin says he agreed with one e-mailer who said RU486 was safe, effective and the Therapeutic Goods Administration should determine access.

"It's nice to get an email from someone who has the same view that I have. Almost all the others I've had hold the alternative view," Mr Griffin said.

New online democracy resources at Australian e-Democracy

Australian e-Democracy has new links and resources available to view and download.

ICAN - Our site now includes a link to the Independent Candidate's Advisory Network (ICAN), an online resource to encourage independent candidates to represent their community. Federal independent Members of Parliament Peter Andren, Tony Windsor, and Bob Katter launched the site in October 2005.

"ICAN is all about returning Australian parliaments to the people and putting representation back into politics in this country," Mr Andren said.

Lobyocracy - A new wiki that provides information on lobby groups and their donations to major political parties.

This site is a project of the Australian Centre for Democracy and Justice.

Local e-Democracy National Project’s (LDNP) benefits study - The PowerPoint presentation of this UK study offers information on the advantages of e-democracy in local government plus examples of e-democracy in action.

Battle for economic heart of the Internet

In a recent speech, Jeffrey Chester, Executive director of the Center for Digital Democracy, said that large Telcos had plans to radically change the economic model of the Internet.

He expressed concern that new technologies like deep packet inspection technology coupled with possible changes to legislation would lead to the Internet becoming a toll road where content provided by telcos was given prefential right of way.

Lawmakers in the US Senate are currently discussing new "net neutrality" laws reflecting concerns like these.

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden (Dem) says he plans to introduce a bill to "make sure all information (transmitted over broadband networks) is made available on the same terms so that no bit is better than another one."

Representatives from Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, eBay, Amazon and InterActive Corp say they will lobby hard for new legislation in favor of net neutrality.

"Blogburst" on Mohammad cartoons

Numerous blogs have posted controversial cartoons amidst claims mainstream media won’t publish them.

The mass posting has been described as a "blogburst" according to one political commentator.

The cartoons, first published by a Danish newspaper, include one depiction of the Prophet Mohammad with a turban resembling a bomb.

The cartoons have caused mass protests outside of Danish embassies in countries with high Muslim populations.

US political commentator Michelle Malkin has started a list of links to blogs that post the cartoons.

She says the "blogburst" list will be "a very useful road map for the enormous number of Internet users around the world who are trying to find the cartoons."

Ms Malkin provides a definition of a "blogburst" as a "simultaneous, co-ordinated posting by a large group of webmasters and bloggers on a given topic".

Ms Malkin lists almost 150 blogs on her blogburst page so far.

Blogosphere doubles in under six months

The blog world is booming with the total number of blogs doubling every five and half months, accoding to blog tracking company Technorati.

The company now tracking over 27 million separate blogs around the world, which is 60 times the number of blogs three years ago.

The number of blogs updated on a weekly basis has reached 2.7 million with about 1.2 million total posts appearing daily.

Technorati founder David Sifry says the largeness of the blogosphere makes it literally impossible to read everything relevant to an issue or subject.

"A new challenge has presented itself -- how to make sense out of this monstrous conversation, and how to find the most interesting and authoritative information out there," Mr Sifry says.

Virtual worlds engage youth in democracy

Online video games and virtual worlds have potential to engage young people in politics and democracy, according to a political research organisation.

Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) senior research fellow Jo Twist says virtual worlds and online games are emerging as places where young people and future voters are spending a lot of their time.

"They are giving up time watching TV and looking at other media to play games," Ms Twist says.

Ms Twist says modern gaming is far more sophisticated than many realise.

"Gaming has been used as a tool for education and policy: the History Channel used [the game] Brothers in Arms to help educate people about World War II," she says.

Ms Twist says the example of the online community "Second Life" demonstrates how social issues have taken to virtual worlds.

During the last US presidential election, various political campaign offices were set up within Second Life.

"It has also been used as a base for government research, and academic lectures have taken place there," Ms Twist says.

Ms Twist also says intends to initiate further research on this topic at IPPR.

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