2012 elections – technology failure, yet touchable progress

TunnelA while ago I posted a dream about how technology could help us grow to Democracy 2.0 in our 2012 elections (Will 2012 be the year we YouTube our way to Democracy 2.0?). It was utopic, of course, but one needs to put best wishes forward if one desires true progress.  We have to keep challenging ourselves to use what we have and know to make the world better. It’s the only way not to slide back into Cold War mentality.

Unfortunately, compared to the reasonable expectations presented in that earlier post, the 2012 elections were mostly a technology failure:

  • social media was not used by any candidates to provide consistent transparency into real issues, but it was used rather for fundraising and name calling
  • there were more print ads than ever sent to mail boxes. More TV ads in the living room as well.
  • candidates were still able to change statements from state to state and they could even present different opinions in televised debates without being challenged
  • fringe candidates were not really empowered to a relevant position in discussing issues
    the political discussion is just as fractured and polarized as ever, and the information channels continue to be preferential
  • big data was barely used for anything relevant
  • we are just as confused about who does what on Capitol Hill, particularly among constant budget polemic (instead of negotiation) that cloud most other very relevant issues

So it seems that most politicians are once again missing the train, relying on old school networking & briefing & reaction to polls, rather than understanding present society’s electronic extensions. Politicians might refuse to accept this new, challenging form of communication with the constituents, and by doing so they are similar to Karl Rove who, live on TV, refused to accept the outcome of the 2012 elections even in face of mathematical proof. Unfortunately nowadays, it is a freaking space shuttle, not a train, that they are missing.

Even somone like Rupert Murdoch took to Twitter to express his displeasure with the White House and the will of the people on SOPA/PIPA and other stuff. His media empire could not do it fast enough, well enough.

There is some progress however. More and more serious analysts are taking to social media, often drawing attention to significant research. Inspirational talks, NASA updates, discussion forums, education ideas and even curricula are available online, often freely. A new generation of communicators, a new generation of leaders.

The Pope himself got a Twitter account, only to resign a month later claiming that the complexity of today’s world requires rulers with both a strong mind and a strong body. I think that is a sign of things to come, as elected officials will need to use the modern tools available to make themselves of the people and for the people, or at least fake it in a 21st century fashion.


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