Colin Delany November 5, 2006

Hmmmmmm, If This is the Future of Online Politics…

The Post’s Outlook section ran two interesting pieces looking at online/electronic politics this weekend, one somewhat tongue-in-cheek and the other healthily contrarian. Let’s begin with Zephyr Teachout and Tim Wu’s “YouTube? It’s So Yesterday,” which starts with candidate product placement, veers into gambling and porn (God bless ’em) and lands in World of Warcraft and Second Life.

The authors are definitely taking some trends and running them to the extreme in the interest of good fun, but they illuminate some real truths along the way. They talk about database-driven microtargeting, for one thing, along with the importance of campaigns’ going where the audience is. I can’t really see candidates doing a whole lot of advertising on porn sites (though I’d love to see someone try), but appearances in Second Life and other immersive online worlds are a definite possibility (may I point out that more sites than just Boing Boing noticed that Mark Warner held a virtual event earlier this year?).

And tv program sponsorship may be a real alternative to Tivo-skippable campaign ads — product advertisers are certainly using it as a tactic. Candidate accountability software? Matching campaign contributions and federal contracts is becoming easier and easier, and mapping applications may make the results more intuitive and digestible. Using affinity software to evaluate neighborhood political tendencies? Ignorant (political) armies clashing by night in a (virtually) bloody battle royale? We’ll see….

Next up: Michael Cornfield and Lee Rainie’s “The Web Era Isn’t as New as You Think.”


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