Saturday, January 27, 2007

Politicos 2.0

Using the internet for political activism is nothing new, it is used almost extensively in many so called ‘developed’ world, where it truly makes sense as where there is a significant internet population.

Recently there seems to have been a surge in politicians using the net for PR. John Edwards announced he’s running for president on YouTube, and if successful (god forbid) he will be America’s first YouTube President. Others have followed suit with people like Barrak Obama teaming up with Brightcove to announce his presidential bid. The 2.0 politicians are not limited to the US, it is said that Iranian president Ahmednejad maintains a blog, recently the Indian president Dr Abdul Kalam posted a question on Yahoo Answers, and there are reports of a Minister in Britain now starting her own blog.

In the US, there is an estimated 210 Million internet users (68% of the population) and as the 2008 presidential election gets closer people are wondering whether then net can be used not merely as a tool for fundraising or a campaigning tool for politicians to further strengthen the top-down campaigning but whether the netroots movements can in fact change the playing field. Sri Lankan situation, as always remains starkly different.

Political commentaries are common on the Sri Lankan Webosphere but there doesn’t seem to be any concentrated effort by politicians or political parties to encapsulate the power of the web. The last presidential election saw both candidates having a reasonable web presence, there were no space for donations or any of the sort but at least it figured somewhere in the election strategy, Sri Lankans Bloggers got into the act with almost all backing the loosing candidate.

As of now, the Presidents site still seems to update, albeit somewhat unwillingly. The JVP can boast a decent web presence which has been consistently updated for quite some time. The UNP site is now, perhaps like the actual party is now defunct. Online, It can only claim to a supporters group in Hi5 with a reasonable membership.

Sri Lanka can officially claim to about 300,000 internet users (2005 Est.), I presume that number to have grown up to about half a million by now. Come next election, presumably in 2010, there could well be a significant amount of people online which could be exploited especially by Colombo politicians.

No comments: