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Club Bloggery 8: Scoring the e-lection

Just before the Australian federal election last Saturday, we managed to get our latest Club Bloggery piece out to ABC Online. It's now been eclipsed by more recent developments, of course, but still offers a pretty good overview of the campaign for (online) hearts and minds that was. Read it at our group blog Gatewatching, or at the ABC.

Scoring the e-lection

By Jason Wilson, Barry Saunders, and Axel Bruns

This close to the election, it's customary for newspapers to recommend a vote one way or the other. We're not about to do that at Club Bloggery (although we would recommend thinking about the candidate who's been more responsive and available to your community), but we can do a summary of who has made the best running on the Internet, and understood and used its possibilities best.

Club Bloggery 7: Election Flops on YouTube

Jason Wilson, Barry Saunders, and I have now posted the seventh instalment of our ABC series Club Bloggery, covering the online dimensions of the Australian election campaign. Just to mix things up a bit, this week we had a look at what's been happening on YouTube over the past few weeks, and found that (perhaps unsurprisingly) the more interesting developments are in DIY campaign advertising and mash-ups. Plenty of links included with the story, which we've also posted to our group blog Gatewatching - I encourage you to see for yourselves!

Election Flops on YouTube

By Axel Bruns, Jason Wilson, and Barry Saunders

In an election campaign as drawn out as this, you'd have to have excellent memory to remember the hype around John Howard's use of YouTube to make policy announcements. Some months ago, the media were all over the story - but unfortunately for the Prime Minister, much like the widely-predicted poll 'narrowing', the YouTube effect has been missing in action.

That's not to say that YouTube and similar sites haven't played a role in the campaign - but certainly not to the extent they've already featured in the U.S. presidential primaries, where debates between the candidates on either side of the political divide have invited citizens to pose their questions via YouTube, and where some politicians even announced their intention to run for President on the site.

Citizen Journalism beyond the Tactical Moment, Blogging with an Australian Accent, and Other Upcoming Publications

I'm very happy that a few of the articles and chapters I've worked on throughout the year are now coming close to publication. One of them is a chapter in Digital Media and Democracy: Tactics in Hard Times, a book edited by Megan Boler for MIT Press; my contribution is based on one of my papers for the AoIR conference last year and explores the possibilities for citizen journalism beyond the tactical moment, as it transcends the industrial journalism/citizen journalism two-tier structure first described (though not exactly in those terms) by Herbert Gans so many years ago. Will citizen journalism remain tactical, and thus perhaps excuse itself from attempting to exert a more permanent, strategic influence on public life? Will it 'sell out' and go mainstream? Or is there a third, hybrid option which retains its strengths as a bottom-up movement while developing more permanent, sustainable forms?

My suggestion in the chapter (which I've called "Gatewatching, Gatecrashing: Futures for Tactical News Media") is that we may see a development of citizen journalism that's not unlike the trajectory charted by the evolution of extra-parliamentary opposition groups in 1970s Europe into credible political alternatives (and here especially the Greens parties). As a German, the obvious case in point for me is the career of Joschka Fischer from street protester to German Foreign Minister, ultimately commanding grudging respect even from old political enemies - and in citizen journalism, I think we're beginning to see the potential for similar transformations. In the chapter, I do go so far as to call OhmyNews' founder Oh Yeon-ho "the South Korean Joschka Fischer of journalism", though with tongue in cheek - guess you'll have to wait for the book to come out to see whether you agree with me on that one. It's now listed for pre-order on Amazon.

Club Bloggery 6: Jumping the Shark

We've now published the next instalment of our Club Bloggery series at ABC Online and on our Gatewatching group blog. After four long weeks of the election campaign proper, and many more months of pre-election scuffles, this time we couldn't hold back any more and finally decided to 'go' The Australian for its atrociously partisan and misleading coverage of the election. And from the comments the piece has received on the ABC site and elsewhere, it looks like we're not the only ones to think so... Kudos to the ABC subbies, who found the appropriate image to go with an article titled "Jumping the Shark"!

Jumping the Shark

By Jason Wilson, Axel Bruns, and Barry Saunders

Collectively, the writers here at Club Bloggery have been watching the Australian political blogosphere for years. We know that the bloggers who have perhaps been most important and prominent down under are psephologists - specialist electoral statisticians who try to understand and analyse polls, and consider the interlocking numbers games of electoral politics.

Club Bloggery 5: Digging Deeper

The next instalment of our Club Bloggery series for ABC Online is now up. As always, we've posted a slightly longer version of the article on our group blog Gatewatching, in addition to the ABC article itself. Here's an excerpt:

Digging Deeper

By Jason Wilson, Barry Saunders, and Axel Bruns

Climate change dominated a couple of days of Federal Election campaigning earlier this week, with the major parties both fumbling in laying out their responses. Peter Garrett and Malcolm Turnbull were punished by the mainstream media for, respectively, revealing something approximating a real opinion about how climate change agreements should work, and for being involved in a debate about Government policy before it's implemented.

Club Bloggery Pt. 4: Bloggers Watch as Journalists Turn on Each Other over Worm

The fourth instalment of our Club Bloggery series for ABC Online has now been published. Given all the controversy, we couldn't go past adding our own thoughts about the 'worm' incident which has taken up so much of the media limelight following the leaders' debate last week. Our piece has already been published on the ABC site, where it has also generated a good deal of sometimes heated debate; on the Gatewatching group blog with Jason Wilson and Barry Saunders, I've now also posted a slightly longer and more polemic version of the article.

Bloggers Watch as Journalists Turn on Each Other over Worm

By Axel Bruns, Jason Wilson, and Barry Saunders

In spite of the growing evidence of the role of bloggers like Possums Pollytics and citizen journalism projects like our own Youdecide2007 as alternative commentators and opinion leaders in the federal election campaign, mainstream media from print to television remain crucial, of course. Indeed, the two are anything but mutually exclusive, and so - along with 2.4 million other viewers across the three channels broadcasting it - bloggers tuned in on Sunday to watch the 'great debate' between John Howard and Kevin Rudd.

Though not necessarily adopting the yoga pose of one of the ABC's debate watchers, Australian bloggers looked to a number of their own strengths in order to survive suffering through what at times appeared a rather stilted, formulaic contest between the two candidates for the top job; many leading Australian blogs provided live blog coverage of the event, offering a blow-by-blow, distributed running commentary as the debate was aired.

Au Revoir Montréal, Goodbye Canada

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This is a Flickr badge showing photos in a set called Montréal 2007. Make your own badge here.

Montréal.
Well, that's it - AoIR 2007 and WikiSym 2007 are over, the drizzle has caught up with me here in Montréal after a couple of very pleasant days with temperatures in the 20s; time to get back to the Australian spring. It's been a very successful if brief tour through Canada for these two conferences, and I've particularly enjoyed catching up with what by now feel like old friends from the Association of Internet Researchers, as well as meet a few new faces - you know who you are. It's a privilege to have been elected to the executive of such a vibrant community - and I look forward to seeing everyone again for AoIR 2008 in Copenhagen (which looks to be in very good hands).

Political Wikis, Wiki Politics

Montréal.
The next session this second day of WikiSym 2007 is on political wikis, but opens with a paper by Renée-Marie Fountain on co-constructed development via communal constructivism in an educational environment. She begins with a nod towards the idea of the wisdom of the crowds, and especially perhaps of student crowds which we touched upon yesterday, and notes that in constructivist approaches students are invited to construct learning for as well as with others. This pursues what can be described as 'impossible public goods'.

Online Politics Research

Vancouver.
Wow, time has passed quickly (and very enjoyably). We're in the final session of AoIR 2007 here in Vancouver, and Chris Wells and Justin Reedy are the first speakers; their interest is in the use of Internet in direct democracy. Direct democracy in the U.S. and elsewhere is increasingly common, increasingly important, and different from conventional democratic forms in important ways (the European constitutional referenda in a number of countries are one key example here, while in a number of U.S. states there have been referenda on limiting property tax rates).

A Quick Excursion to Club Bloggery

Vancouver.
I may be at AoIR 2007 in Vancouver, but back in Australia our Club Bloggery series as part of the ABC's online Australian election coverage continues. The third instalment of Club Bloggery has now been posted on the ABC site, and we've also posted a version of the article to our Gatewatching group blog:

Beyond Gotcha: Blogs as a Space for Debate

By Jason Wilson, Axel Bruns, and Barry Saunders

The mainstream media and critics of Web 2.0's "cult of the amateur" often suggest that blogs and citizen journalism will never replace their mainstream counterparts because they "don't break stories". Notwithstanding the fundamental furphy - who ever said anything about "replacing" the MSM anyway? - there is some truth in this. It goes without saying that most bloggers don't have the resources, pulling power or proximity to the pollies to do much original political reporting: this is something that most sensible public affairs bloggers concede. (Though how often the mainstream media really break stories - as against exploiting deliberate, calculated 'leaks' from party spinsters - is a separate question.)

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