Facebook, Politics and Proroguing Parliament

I’ve got a special to the Globe and Mail this morning titled Harper underestimates Facebook at his own peril. I’m happy and surprised to see the piece has climbed to the top of the site in terms of views (see sidebar)

Part of it is born out of the fact that a number of political commentators seem to discount online political engagement. I cite Matt Gurney in the piece as he seems to be upset about the current facebook group – although he was notably silent last year when there was a facebook group supporting the Conservatives and even attended a rally in Toronto that the online group helped organized.

Globe and Mail Most Viewed 2010-01-11 at 8.49.19 AMOf course, National Post commentators have a history of flip flopping depending on what helps or hurts the Conservatives so I’ll concede they may not have been the best group to cite.

More frustrating is the At Issue political panel on the CBC where Susan Delacourt says, “it is easy to just click on something, we’ll have to see what happens at the rallies” and Coyne saying “Will people show up at rallies.” (Around minute 9:30 onward)

What?

So politics only matters if it is hard? Next thing we know is that they’ll not only be against electronic voting, but promoting a system where you get to vote only after you’ve successfully run the Wipe Out obstacle course. Because only then will a voter have demonstrated that their vote should REALLY count!

obstacle courseSo pundit summary: We want citizens to care about parliament and are glad they are on facebook… but it only really begins to count once they start marching. Like we did back in the 60s.

Glad we cleared that up.

18 thoughts on “Facebook, Politics and Proroguing Parliament

  1. Davey Jones

    I'm mystified by the “it's just a click” point. Some people really want to believe that these kids today can't have opinions that matter.None of these critics would question poll results that painted a picture of opposition to prorogue, even though answering a telephone poll takes about 3 minutes of effort.And all this ignores that many people are doing more than clicking, they're actively contributing discussion, links and so on to the FB group.I think old media types don't really understand what online engagement means yet. *Really* surprised at Delacourt's and Coyne's ignorance on this. I can't remember the last time a media commentator demanded to see a march (of all things) as evidence of serious political belief.

    Reply
  2. Kempton

    Hi David,Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts in your insightful article at G&M today.Now, I am not sure if I will agree with you re a few other issues you mentioned in this entry (e.g. we can probably have a lengthy debate and discussions on the pros and cons of electronic voting) but the issues you raised in the G&M piece seem to be well thought out.

    Reply
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  5. Pingback: Harper underestimates Facebook at his own peril (by David Eaves for G&M) « Kempton – ideas Revolutionary

  6. Allan Pollock

    A decent article with which I don't completely disagree, but it would it have been so hard to have someone proof read it for you?

    Reply
  7. David Eaves

    Hi Allan – thank you for the comment and it's great to hear you don't completely disagree with this article. One goal of this blog is to help push people's thinking – if this post did that in any way, then that is a success. A couple of thoughts on typos…a) It is actually quite hard to get people to proof read stuff for me before I post. I try to post 4 times a week, I'm not getting paid for it (so can only dedicate so much time), have no staff to help me and there is only so much one can rely on a friend who happens to be nearby (especially at 1am PST when I finally have the time to write something).b) I have however, frequently relied on the kindness of strangers – many of whom tell me what the typo is so I can fix it. Indeed, there is a button below each blog post (it is labeled copy edit) which allows anyone to send me a typo notice. What is nice is that dozens and dozens of people have sent me typos this way or simple told what the typo was in the comments. If you've seen something I always appreciate knowing what it is so I can fix it.c) I try to do my best, but I'll try still harder in the future…

    Reply
  8. Allan Pollock

    In criticising the typos, I was referring to your article on the globe's website, not your blog post. I woke up this morning and found at least 5 typos only one click from the globe's front page–2 of them in your article. I'm sorry that you're getting the brunt of it, but I'm growing more and more annoyed by the apparent belief by editors that online content is somehow less deserving of scrutiny and attention to detail than print media.

    Reply
  9. emmyriley

    Hi David,Thank you for your article in the G&M today, I've been curious about how Facebook can have teeth in activism and your article shined some light on areas for me.Thanks,Emmy

    Reply
  10. David Eaves

    Ah! Thank you for letting me know (that one did get edited). If you send me the typos or post them in this comment stream I'll try to get the editor to fix them (feel like the odds are pretty good). Otherwise, I'll try to find them tonight when I have time.I've long felt like the Globe and other newspapers should employ goosegrade (the typo button a noted above) so that readers can let them know about these errors.I agree that they interrupt the flow of an article – which is why I'm always grateful when people point them out to me (and I hate it when I make them).

    Reply
  11. John

    Hi David, very fair article but my opinion is that just because Facebook has over 150000 supporting the Proroguation protest the real question is how many of those will bother to vote. I suspect not even half will, therefore I dont think its really a big deal .

    Reply
  12. sean456

    I was referring to your article on the sphere's website, not your journal office. I woke up this start and institute at least 5 typos only one dawn from the sphere's cheater page–2 of them in your article. I'm compassionate that you're getting the brunt of it, but I'm maturation much and much harried by the evident belief by editors that online cognition is someways inferior worth of investigating and aid to point than publish media.———————Sean Cruzvancouver flowers

    Reply
  13. Allan Pollock

    I don't think it matters if the facebook folks vote or not. As long as some active voters are paying attention to the coverage of the facebook group, then the facebook group matters, politically. It might not change anything, but it matters.Allan

    Reply
  14. mediasouffle

    What do you make of the recent attempt to mobilize students in relation to an impending strike at Ontario colleges. An article in yesterday's Toronto Star (http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/750036-…) suggests that while 22,000+ joined an anti-strike Facebook group, and 4,000+ signed an online petition, only a few hundred (and just a single student at some schools) participated in the companion walk-outs. Do these diminishing returns matter? Or is it sufficient that so many joined the Facebook group even if their activism didn't go any further? Any lessons for Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament?

    Reply
  15. mediasouffle

    What do you make of the recent attempt to mobilize students in relation to an impending strike at Ontario colleges. An article in yesterday's Toronto Star (http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/750036-…) suggests that while 22,000+ joined an anti-strike Facebook group, and 4,000+ signed an online petition, only a few hundred (and just a single student at some schools) participated in the companion walk-outs. Do these diminishing returns matter? Or is it sufficient that so many joined the Facebook group even if their activism didn't go any further? Any lessons for Canadians Against Proroguing Parliament?

    Reply
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