Netroots and Netroops

Prof Greg Elmer is back from the Personal Democracy Forum in NYC and shares some thoughts with the readers of The Hill Times (the Canadian one), and with those readers only, since the text is shyly hiding behind HT’s subscription firewall.

The temptation to just cut-and-paste the text here is almost overwhelming, but I’ll be strong and urge you to buy, borrow or steal a copy. Here’s the teaser version:

Elmer starts off by quoting “American broadcaster and new media guru Douglas Rushkoff” (watch his invocation), who talked about the tensions between genuine online activists (Netroots) and political operatives using the same methods to bring partisan politics up to speed with the Internet age (let’s call them Netroops for fun).

Elmer mentions the Tories were the first out of the digital gate, urging their supporters to get active online and rewarding the most visible ones. He goes on to say that while Canada’s election finances regulations forces those party activists to keep an arms-length relationship with party machinery, but…

“The Blogging Tories’ first flashy and professional looking website mocking the Liberal Green Shift campaign theshiftygreen.ca raises questions about whether new campaigning funds are already trickling into established online party activist coffers, a point Stephen Taylor recently refuted. A well-known internet programmer, Taylor estimated that the costs of his shifty green website were “minimal,” and that the required software cost him about $10.”

And why should we care? Because…

As Ottawa finally starts to move to issue-based political debate, focusing on various tax and environment policies, future elections will likely see a new crop of net activists moving beyond parody, symbolic and first-person politics to a decidedly more interventionist brand of netroots online political activism and campaigning.

Although I’m not too thrilled with the way the “issue-based political debate” is shaping up, the good professor might be right.

UPDATE: On his blog, Elmer is responding to Jonathan Malloy’s opinion piece on the primacy of Parliament on public debate and why a politician can still understand Internet culture without ever going online. Sure, I’m making fun of Mr. Malloy’s text (some interesting points in there), but it’s so badly written that I feel he deserves it.

See also: Netroots and Netroops – post 2

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