From Edmonton to Spain: Communicative politics

Don Iveson recently mayor’ed his way into my Twitter feed, with what I found to be an impressively detailed explanation for Edmonton’s photo radar policy. From the comments below, I believe this is in response to a recent petition the city received opposing the policy. Also heartening is the ongoing dialogue that can be seen in the comments section, with Iveson updating his post to include additional information, and many commenters voicing critiques or concerns with some of what Iveson posted.

“Thomas” fairly remarks that the closing line of “stop speeding” is somewhat patronizing, if technically true. Whether Iveson wrote this article himself (using the personal “I”, he gives that impression) or commissioned a staffer, at the very least he is putting his name behind this statement. It’s nice to see a political leader try to take time to legitimately communicate with their constituents.

Over in Spain, a country in Europe, political party Podemos has taken to using reddit get direction from its party membership. I think this is a pretty remarkable and innovative idea. Using the upvote system, they can communicate en masse with interested citizens about party policies or even about party structure. The article also introduced me to Loomio, an online voting tool developed in the wake of the Occupy movements designed to facilitate democratic communication.

One particularly succinct quote on internet democracy: “It’s the direct democracy of Web content, with all the attendant costs (herd mentality, Internet rabble, scant checks on the integrity of content) and benefits (organically popular, egalitarian, full of surprises).

The article indicates that when using Loomio, a pie chart shows the status of the ongoing vote. In my mind, this could lead to that sense of “herd mentality,” where a voter would be influenced by the results they see already. A similar problem exists with the idea of upvoting. I also see some concerns in the area of “content integrity.” If Podemos gained momentum, I could see opponents anonymously using their system to entangle and bog down their dialogues, or to even subvert their policies. Despite possible concerns, I do think it’s a valuable way for a newly formed political party to establish themselves and engage interested citizens.


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