Monday, May 21, 2007

Politics and Web 2.0

In just another demonstration of the connection between politics and engagism on the web, Google CEO Eric Schmidt gave the keynote address at the 2007 Personal Democracy Forum. He commented extensively on how the Internet is (spoiler alert) changing the face of American politics (shocking, I know).

A key component of the discussion was whether the "connected world" is always a good thing, with Thomas Friedman, who joined the conversation with Schmidt, noting that when the MySpace generation starts getting involved in politics, there will be much more information (and pictures) available on them -- not all of it flattering. As Friedman put it "George Bush never could've been elected president if he'd been at Yale now and there'd been cell phone cameras around."

Schmidt suggested that tomorrow's leaders will likely be more careful in their activities today, knowing that cameras and media attention abound. However to me the more interesting question there is whether the "engagist" generation will have a more forgiving perspective on the exploits of political leaders. As more and more people experience the consequences of less-that stellar online decisions, will they be more forgiving of others that have those same experiences?

It's certainly possible. In fact, perhaps the surfeit of negative information on candidates might lead to an end of negative campaigning. We can only hope.

More information on the keynote address here.

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