©2008 Colin Delanye.politics – dissecting the craft of online political advocacywww.epolitics.com
1. Online Politics 101: Introduction toOnline Politics
Let’s change the world! But how? Robot/kung fu army? Too expensive.Zombies? Too messy. Online politics? A wise choice: the internet givesANYONE — candidates, advocacy organizations, corporate interests andeveryday citizens alike — powerful tools to mold policy, influenceelections and shift the direction of public discourse.But where to start? Online advocacy evolves just as fast as any other partof the wired world — the technology changes and so do its users and their expectations.Techniques that worked brilliantly six months ago might yield eyeball-melting failure today.That’s where Online Politics 101 and epolitics.com come in. We’ll look at every method of doingonline advocacy we can think of and help figure out what’s likely to work in a given situation.What should a candidate’s site contain? What mistakes should it avoid? What are blogs good for?How about using MySpace, Twitter or YouTube as promotional or organizing tools? How do viralcampaigns catch and how can we get wallets to open and fund our organization or campaign? Ina sea of mass emails, what ways of reaching Congress actually work? Let’s look at all of thesequestions and many others and see what answers we can turn up.
A Brief Word About Terms
I’m going to use the word “campaign” a lot, so let’s all get in the same boat real quick. In thiscontext, a “campaign” is any organized or directed attempt to influence politics or policy, from alone blogger howling in the dark to a multi-gazillion-dollar public policy juggernaut.Some campaigns are purely educational (”we’re going to tell you where blue fizzies come from”),though most “educational” campaigns in the political sphere really have a hidden agenda (”bluefizzies come from some place you really don’t like”). More often, campaigns are about advocacy(”you should oppose the spread of blue fizzies and make sure your elected officials do too”).Finally, a specialized kind of campaign is designed to elect a particular candidate (”Rep. Bilbostands firmly against the blue fizzie lobby and deserves your vote”).The tactics we’ll discuss below are relevant to all three kinds of campaigns, though not alwaysequally.
Next: The Internet as a Political Tool
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