The only interesting thing you’ll read about the election this week

The only interesting thing you’ll read about the election this week

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What's Gillard doing? Read on.
What's Gillard doing? Read on.

Yes, inherent in this headline is a bold claim. However, given the snoringly-dull progression of the election so far, it hardly could be considered an outrageous one.

It’s been an election dull enough to bore even the most Machiavellian of political pundits. (I know this first hand. The Anthill office is full of them, united only in their melancholy.)

About the only colourful aspect, so far, has been the language our leading candidates have elicited from the Fourth Estate: The axe-wielding ‘ranga’ versus the budgie-smuggling mad monk.

And even these don’t compare in subtlety and nuance with jibes of our political past. For example, Sir George Houstoun Reid, Australian Prime Minister in 1904 and 1905, after a backflip on the issue of Federation, was nicknamed… wait for it… “Yes-No Reid”!

Okay, perhaps subtlety and nuance have never been a strength of Australian political dialogue.

With nothing much ado on the frontlines, it seems that the only option left for those in the commentary box is to… well… comment on the commentators.

Fortunately, in the age of digital media, analysis has never been more interesting.

BuzzElection: Election insights from the social web

While our political candidates might not have adopted Obama’s 2008 campaign’s playbook or embraced Twitter to the extent seen in other national elections, the role and influence of social media can no longer be denied.

It was, therefore, only a matter of time before one of the media monitoring services launched a tool to analyse the election on the social web.

First, or at least most proactive, has been BuzzNumbers, which describes itself as “Australia’s leading provider of social media intelligence and monitoring services”.

Its tool for analysis is called, BuzzElection. According to the media release:

BuzzElection provides real-time coverage and analysis of the election, dubbed as Australia’s first ever “Twitter Election.”

The site delivers a comprehensive overview of election coverage across online forums, social media sites, and twitter, offering a breakdown of coverage by topics, city, state-by-state analysis, and the Top 100 Influential Tweeters.

It’s actually kind of impressive, identifying the top most influential Twitterers (Would you believe that @SunriseOn7 ranks at number three?) and the trending topics.

Among the top issues discussed are Climate Change and Immigration (Climate Change is well in the lead as a hot topic). The most active tweeters located in Sydney and Canberra.

Click here to see which topics are trending right now.

electionWIRE: Video views and news

Last week, Vibewire announced the launch of electionWIRE on YouTube, “a dedicated channel for young Australians to have their say and to report the news of the Federal election their way.”

Vibewire is a non-profit youth organisation providing media, arts and entrepreneurial opportunities and events for young people. And YouTube is the world’s most popular online video community (in case you didn’t know).

Unlike most ‘build it and they will come’ social media campaigns, electionWIRE features video news, interviews, opinions and debate from “a team of recruited and trained Vibewire Youthscape reporters”. Their video reports are supported by citizen contributors from the YouTube community.

According to the electionWIRE website:

The new recruits are stationed across Australia, armed with cameras, guided by questions and ideas posted to the electionWIRE YouTube channel, and supported by a senior editorial team.

The community can submit and vote on videos, suggestions and ideas that interest them most via the Google Moderator tool on the channel.

Whether they’re talking about youth unemployment, immigration, the ETS, homelessness or health, electionWIRE reporters will be asking the hard questions and getting unpredictable answers.

It was once said that a letter to a politician represents the views of a thousand voters.

I’m not sure how a video might rate but it’s especially pleasing to see one organisation embracing channels likely to be more familiar to this emerging set of influences, who are unlikely to write letters (and even less likely to call talk back radio) but might just video their views.

GetUp.org: Using satire to shape politics

Many Australians will have heard of MoveOn.org, the US non-profit lobby outfit that has raised millions of dollars to run advertising to support US candidates it identifies as “moderates” or “progressives”.

Inspired by MoveOn.org, GetUp.org was founded in 2005 to help voters to “keep the Howard Government accountable” after it won a majority of seats in the Australian Senate.

The organisation operates by raising money, through pledges, so that it might, therefore, place ‘crowd-funded’ advertising.

Here’s a sample of its work in action:

Julia Gillard Coffee Ad Parody

So far, the campaign to fund this particular advertisement has raised over $125,000 in small $30, $50 and $100 increments.

And then there’s the parodies

Most people would now agree that a modern interpretation of the Fourth Estate includes bloggers, vloggers and random YouTubers. (Unless you represent the ye olde guarde or are a producer of Media Watch.)

And if the views and, therefore, passions of the great-digital-unwashed are anything to go by, the most memorable aspect of this election will be the affairs that made it possible… namely the back-room dismissal of former PM Kevin Rudd.

And while the campaign might be dull, we can always rely on the resourcefulness and boundless creativity of the world-wide-web, coupled with the now iconic Hitler Finds Out meme (until the copyright owners of Downfall exercise a take down notice).

The creators of this hilarious video disabled the embedding option. So, you’ll have to follow the link to watch the clip: Hitler Downfall – Kevin Rudd Video (NB. Salty Language Warning: High).

And if that doesn’t turn you on, there’s this heart-racing spoof, again from GetUp:

Election Thriller – GetUp.org

So, what next for the election?

If this election is going to maintain even a modicum more of our attention, until voting day, we can only hope that Tony Abbott decides to bring back his pink triathlon onesie or that Julia Gillard gets the opportunity to enunciate more vowels. (We were so looking forwurd to the debate.)

If you, dear readers, can think of any other ways to make the election more interesting or know of another organisation that already is, leave a comment below. Please!

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  • Simon

    Watching the debate the other night I found the tweets annoying. Too short to provide value and mostly just school yard talk (someone claimed Abbott could advertise for warny's yeah yeah hair or some such rubbish).

    These commentary aremeaningless twaddle set to murky the waters and make real information and people with some form of value to provide just that bit harde r to find.

    Social media just highlights, underlines and bolds the fact that not everyone should have a voice. …. case in point.

    • http://www.anthillonline.com James Tuckerman – Anthill Mag

      Thanks Simon.

      I look at Twitter the same way that I look comments posted at the foot of a blog or article (like this one).

      Some comments don't help the argument. Others are presented to push an agenda. But some are extremely meaningful. And en masse they present a picture that no single journalist or analyst could ever compete with.

      For example, if you're interested in the power of Twitter as a social tool in elections, check out how it was used in the recent South Korean elections.

      This article from the Harvard Business Review is interesting:
      http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2010/06/twitters_new_ro

      Also, in the most recent Iran elections, Twitter had to postpone scheduled maintenance because Twitter had become vital to the outcome of an election, where not everyone had computers, but many people had mobile phones.

      Here is an article on the Iran elections from Time Magazine:
      http://tunedin.blogs.time.com/2009/06/15/irania

      In Australia, Twitter is still in its infancy, like blogs ten years ago — and the comments reflect this (indeed, Twitter is often called a micro-blogging platform). I'm not sure whether it'll gain the same social influence here, but it's entirely possible.

      However, I agree, the decision to syndicate tweets was a poor one. Too much interest in being 'novel' rather than on the main act. However, people probably said the same thing about 'the worm' first time around too.

      • Simon

        Hi James,
        You make a good point. I agree with your comments and if I am thinking idealistically the whole concept of open conversation has some huge merits. With enough participation you can average out the extremem views and get a good idea of what people really think (rather than what the mass media portray). It sounds good.

        In the end though I find it seriously hard work to wade through the massive amount of data on so many fronts. I also get distracted by what i view as 'moronic' comments and end up wearing my grumpy pants.

        Filtering is the key. Either I have to learn it or the tech will get better at it or am I just wandering down the same path as the chinese government?

        I need some sleep. Thanks for the great site.

        • http://www.anthillonline.com James Tuckerman – Anthill Mag

          Haha! I couldn't agree more. My 'grumpy pants' need constant patching. Fortunately, we don't get too many moronic comments, thanks to the erudite and open-minded nature of Anthillians (who are also largely open to flattery). 😉

          Two things influence my views.

          At one end of the spectrum, this post (http://gadgets.boingboing.net/2009/05/18/welcom…), of only 600 approx words, demonstrated to me the strengths of an open conversation online. The 138 comments, when viewed together, are far superior to the original post that inspired them. In a matter of days, a dialogue and series of views emerged that, if presented as an essay or book, would have taken months, maybe years, for an author to assemble. The conversation attracted real heavy-hitters from new and old media news desks. This is something that traditional media could never have achieved — and the sum of the views presented was more comprehensive than any individual could ever provide (in spite of the odd moronic comment).

          At the other end of the spectrum, check out the views of Jaron Lanier. He was one of the original internet / new media evangelists (I believe he popularised the term 'Virtual Reality'). Recently he has done an about-face (http://www.slate.com/id/2239466). What impressed me was his recent comments at a tech conference where he asked everyone in the room to refrain from tweeting and blogging during his presentation. He asked only one thing: Try listening for a change!

          As you say, filtering is the key. But not just by the end user. By the organisation choosing the channel. A blog might be great for a journalistic debate. Twitter might be a highly effective tool for political activism in Iran. But both absolutely, positively SUCK when thrust into an inappropriate context (like giving a newspaper to a blind man).

          Thanks for being part of the conversation Simon. And sleep well!

  • justmeint

    thats a real thoughtful write – thanks

    But it begs asking just how the country can return to a surplus by 2012/13, as guaranteed by Mr. Swan, when Prime Minister Gillard is going around the country throwing money around, left right and centre, to get the voters on her side. Perhaps she is no good with figures? Perhaps she is no good with promises? Perhaps it’s all just political spin? Whatever her motivation (let me not be accused of making judgements), one only has to look at some of the figures being promised, and then ask the question – just who is going to pay for all of this when we already have a deficit of $57.1 billion dollars.

    http://just-me-in-t.blogspot.com/2010/07/does-g