Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Bullshit 2.0

SX column for the week. But first, just a friendly reminder to the Woollahra Ladies Who Luncheon: Visers come OFF once the lady comes OFF the Paddington Lawn Tennis club courts. Wearing said visers down Queen Street is an affront to everything that is pure and good.


This year’s federal election is the first in which the Web 2.0 phenomenon is playing a major part, and watching our pollies navigate the new media ranges from amusing to downright tragic.

If, like me, you’ve ever emailed an MP and saved their address in your folder, you may have unwittingly become their Facebook friend. I’m now ‘friends’, for example, with Malcolm Turnbull, Lindsay Tanner and Penny Sharpe, even though I’ve never met any of them personally and none of them would know me from their parties’ equally ignominious GLBTI policy documents.

Likewise, many of us read about the Labor hacks who instantly beefed up Kevin Rudd’s Facebook profile friends into the hundreds upon its inception – but poor old John Howard only had eight friends for the first few days of his. Still, Howard’s not about to miss out exploiting a medium on these new fangled intertubes, and his weapon of choice now is to announce policy directions and strategies, such as the ‘Mersey dash’ to Devonport, on YouTube. Obviously, somewhere an adviser is bending Howard’s ear on the far-ranging scope and instant accessibility of new media outlets, perhaps in an attempt to neuter the growing perception of Howard’s age and anachronistic conservatism rendering him redundant to a large chuck of voters under 35.

But as its proponents often argue, Web 2.0 is less a technology than an attitude. And although millions of people now have a blog, Facebook profile or MySpace.com page, we’re also very wary of how new media is used and exploited. Coke’s ‘Zero Movement’ 2.0 campaign failed spectacularly, for example, because cynical visitors to the site soon exposed the fake blog posts that sung Coke Zero’s praises as being nothing more than Coke’s employees writing scripts from the company’s head office.

Likewise, the same cynical younger audience will quickly tweak to political bullshit, even if it’s in a hip, funky format. Kevin07, Labor’s US presidential-style online love-in of all things Kevin, is nothing if not a well-crafted and designed one-stop shop of all major new media, but only time will tell how effective it is in both raising Rudd’s profile, and enticing undecided voters to vote for him.

For the moment, new media seem to favour the left side of politics. Conservative commentators have already condemned the egalitarian nature of Wikipedia – ‘the free encyclopaedia that anyone can edit’ – highlighting how easily entries can be incorrectly and even libellously edited. Perhaps this is why we’re yet to see a John07 website, although you can enjoy his thrilling YouTube presentations on the federal Liberal site.

Still, bullshit by any other medium…

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At 14/8/07 7:39 pm, Blogger JahTeh said...

Politicians' profiles should automatically come with a bullshit meter and lie detector.

At 22/8/07 6:50 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sam - I know that I am your facebook friend but can I tell you that I did not ask you nor spam you.

I know this because I maintain and write the content of my own online profiles (website,facebook and myspace) and look at and answer my own emails.

I have only asked 4 people to be my facebook friends (Kevin, Lindsay and 2 others who were offended that I had not asked).

Because I am worried about spamming (and because Sophie Mirabella nee Panopoulous asked me to be friends)I do not ask random people to become my friends nor do I harvest other friends for my own political database.

This means that either you asked me to be your friend (and I politely accepted which is how I recall our friendship beginning) or facebook has an ability to make us be friends without any of us knowing it.

Penny Sharpe

nb sorry about the anonymous bit I was struggling with my google account

At 22/8/07 6:58 pm, Blogger Sam said...

Fair enough Penny, although I didn't mean to suggest you were spamming - was just reflecting on how Facebook works.

You're absolutely right though, I would've initiated the original friend request (which unlike Turnbull, I'm not too upset about!)


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