Saturday, 8 November 2008
The important part is that 64 % still are historic numbers in a U.S. context, and it's a proof of the energizing power that especially the Obama campaign had on voters. Tens of thousands of pages will be written about this campaign, and I will probably add to them.
For now, I am satisified with learning that Obama apparently will try to use the powerful network that his campaign built in taking over the administration. Via Politics Online and the BBC I learn that Obama is using a new website, change.gov, as a hub for continuing his successful web strategy.
There's a blog with updates, information on policy areas, an invitation to share thoughts with the new administration, and even job application forms. I don't know whether the new Obama administration is going to actually listen or if it's a brilliant illusion, but I do like the look of it.
In order to retain the enormous goodwill he got during his campaign, Obama must show that his talk of change and inclusion was not a campaign phenomenon only. If he wants to be re-elected, an eternal campaign is his best option.
I predict that this new form for e-government (or trick, depending on how cynical you are) will be copied as well as other parts of the campaign in various parts of the world in the years to come.
And speaking of copying, people in the Republican Party are also calling for change.
Tuesday, 4 November 2008
I hope Obama will win, I think he will, but one of the things I'm most interesting in finding out is what effect this long, dollar-drenched, ingeniously organised, media-hyped, social media-driven campaign has on voter turnout.
Young people? Poor people? Minorities? And, depending on what numbers we will see tomorrow - 50 %, 60 %, 70 % - I have a few recommendations for European political parties. Even if turnout is generally higher than in U.S. elections (in the Swedish parliamentary election in 2006 it was 82 %) there is always a danger in letting voters become disinterested.
Especially the Obama campaign, whith its caleidoskopic array of techniques for organising volunteers and contacting voters, will serve as a source of inspiration.
I'll get back to you on that. For now, an interesting way of self-promotion:
Saturday, 1 November 2008
As we pass this content along, it facilitates conversations among friends and it allows us to signify to each other our mutual recognition and respect for the civic rituals which surround the political process. When people send me this video, they intend it as a gift -- which is to say, they intend it to reaffirm the social ties we feel towards each other.
Politics - as much as any other part of culture - always had an important social dimension, but the ease with which it is now possible to share and reconceptualise media content is elevating the process to another level.
Also, an attack on the term "viral":
If I had my way, the term and "memes" along with it would be retired from our vocabulary of talking about how media circulates. There's something sick and unhealthy about the concept of viral media. The term, "viral" operates off a metaphor of infection, assuming that the public are unwilling carriers of messages -- yet I doubt very much that the students who sent me this video were in any sense unwilling or unknowing about what they were doing. The concept of "viral media" strips aside the agency of the participants who are sending along this video for their own reasons -- in this case, a mixture of political zeal and personal affection and probably some sense that I would find the video intellectually interesting.
Personally I wouldn't worry too much about that. I'm not committed to the metaphor, but I do believe there is a virus-like quality to a certain kind of cultural content. It is that urge that makes it irresistable to share it with friends. And yes, quite often that might be unknowingly done. Jenkins proposes "spreadable media", which really could be anything from papyrus rolls to radio.
Also, introducing the MIT Center for Future Civic Media!
Also, a funny clip I hadn't seen before: McCain REALLY is the Penguin!
Tuesday, 28 October 2008
- Ingen som vill vinna ett val kommer att kunna ignorera kanaler som Youtube, säger Nils Gustafsson, doktorand i statsvetenskap på Lunds universitet.
Han forskar i hur sociala webbmedier som Youtube påverkar politiken. I årets amerikanska valrörelse har de haft en tydlig effekt. Var tredje amerikansk väljare har sett en kampanjfilm på nätet, och McCain-kampanjen har till och med producerat reklamfilmer exklusivt för webben i ett försök att ta igen Obamas försprång.
Webbvideoklippen når inte lika många människor som de traditionella tv-annonserna. Däremot erbjuder de ett nytt sätt att sprida ett budskap. Principen är enkel: När man ser ett klipp man gillar delar man med sig av det till sina bekanta, till exempel genom att lägga upp det på sin blogg eller sin Facebook-sida. Kompisarna ser också klippet, gillar det och sprider det vidare. I vissa fall uppstår en snöbollseffekt, och plötsligt har miljontals människor sett ett videoklipp utan att någon betalat en krona för att marknadsföra det.
Fenomenet utnyttjas redan inom reklambranschen, och börjar spela en roll även inom politiken, tror Nils Gustafsson.
Uppdatering: Nu även i Hallands Nyheter.
Gravel ran for president in the Democratic primaries and dropped out pretty quick; he then tried to run as a candidate for the Libertarian Party, which also failed. However, he gained fame and cyber-stardom for appearing in some of the most avant-garde political campaign videos ever to be produced.
Indeed, before Gravel hit the stage, the videos "Rock" and "Power to the People vs. Give Peace a Chance" were shown on a large screen, creating a strange genre-synthesis moment as YouTube met cinema.
So you might have thought that Gravel would talk about his presidential campaign. And he started out by giving the background story for the "Rock" video. Apparently, Gravel had no idea what was going on. He was told to stare into the camera and throw rocks in a lake (as several takes were shot, the film crew had brought a whole bunch of rocks from L.A. to the location in San Fransisco). The producers/directors of the film asked Gravel whether he wanted to give his approval for the final cut. He answered "It's your stuff. Do what you want with it." Then he left the set.
This intrigued me - a candidate for the U.S. presidency not caring about how he is presented in the media - and I asked him if he had the impression that the online videos had created an image of him that he felt he could not control and how he felt about that. Gravel's answer was as surprising as obvious: he needed help in order to break through, and he needed it dearly because he is broke. The fame he gained during the campaign has made it possible for him to tour the world and sell books. As he explained, his first wife takes his retirement pension, and his second wife keeps him alive.
This is the key to why Gravel could go avant-garde: he had nothing to loose. He never believed he could actually win the nomination: running for president was just a way of getting a platform for discussing his political pet: the national initiative, basically a plan for direct democracy.
Tomorrow night, at 8 pm, Barack Obama is airing 30 minute ads on NBC, CBS and Fox - causing the Major League Baseball to postpone a game in the World Series by 8 minutes, should it be necessary. Obama can afford a lot of things, apparently, but he can't afford to be avant-garde.
So, how was Mike Gravel? Well, his main point was that representative government is bad. I was not convinced. Also, his rather angry style and plentiful divertments made him look a little like Abe Simpson - an old man aimlessly raving on about whatever comes to his mind.
I guess that might be a little unfair to a man that successfully fought the Nixon administration in the 1970s - among other things making the Pentagon papers publicly available - but I'm not sad about him not becoming the commander in chief of the world's remaining superpower.
Sunday, 26 October 2008
Sitting at an American-styled restaurant in Malmo, the Southern Kitchen Cafe, I come to think about the attempt of the republican party to connect progressive views with anti-Americanism. This, of course, was never true. Also, Europe has never been anti-American, only anti-conservative. But we might be able to show our love in a more flamboyant way.
Saturday, 25 October 2008
Mike Gravel ran an unsuccessful but interesting campaign for president of the United States as a Democratic candidate. He was up to Clinton and Obama and really never had a chance, but during the campaign he appeared in some of the most interesting, avant-garde-y political campaign videos that were ever made.
He is coming to Lund on Monday, 27 October, in an event arranged by the Academic Society. The event starts at exactly 7 pm in the Café Athen.
I have been invited to ask "a really good question". Here are my earlier texts about former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel:
Amerikanska politikers närvaro på Wikipedia (Swedish)
När kampanjvideon blir konst (Swedish)
Mike Gravel is not the next POTUS, but he's failing in an interesting way (English)
Also: link to the Facebook event.
Friday, 26 September 2008
Jag befinner mig för närvarande på bokmässan. Jag kommer att skvallerblogga en del på radioaf.se/bokmassan under helgen (tillsammans med kulturjournalisten Gabriel Stille och historikern Magnus Härwell). Ovan: Gabriel Stille lyssnar på dikten "Vackert Väder", uppläst av en medlem av Frödingsällskapet. Nils Gustafsson och Lennart Hellsing.
Sunday, 7 September 2008
It is, however, a novelty. No major film has been released in this way. And although the political reasons for Moore might be more important than commercial reasons, it is an interesting step to take.
According to Moore, "This film really isn't for anybody other than the choir [...] [b]ut that's because I believe the choir needs a song to sing every now and then." The North American choir, that is, since you have got to be a U.S. or Canadian resident in order to get the free download. But I guess there are ways of solving that.
Thursday, 4 September 2008
Today between 11 and 12 CET I will be chatting with students at sydsvenskan.se.
UPDATE: The chat went along just fine. Also great having an IRL chat with Sydsvenskan web editor Andreas Mattsson, whith whom I had the opportunity to exchange some thoughts about the synthesis of traditional and social media. You can read the chat (in Swedish) here and an accompanying interview with me here.
Friday, 15 August 2008
Last year I nominated Swedish foreign minister Carl Bildt to Politics Online's award "Top 10 Who Are Changing the Internet and politics" for his blog.
This year I chose to nominate Oscar Swartz, who was one of the frontmen of the blog quake that almost managed to defeat the Swedish government. I know that he was not alone, and I would have liked to nominate the entire Swedish blogsphere, but it was sadly not possible. But I guess Oscar is a worthy representative.
You will vote for him here.
Tuesday, 5 August 2008
From Politics Online (not yet on the web site) I learn that a popular movement against terrorism is forming in Pakistan. The Yeh Hum Naheen Foundation has managed so far to collect a staggering 42 million signatures, on paper and online, against the use of violence in the name of Islam. According to Politics Online, that is more than the number of voters in Pakistan's last general election.
The campaign has used several different tools of virtual mobilisation, including Facebook groups, MySpace, YouTube, SMS chains, forums and a web portal.
According to the Foundation's website, the idea came from the UK based author and media consultant Waseem Mahmood. Yeh Hum Naheen means "this is not us".
It will be very interesting to see what effects this campaign will have on the political culture in Pakistan.
Watch the video:
Wednesday, 18 June 2008
It seems like the lex orwell will be up for vote around 5 pm today. After a record-breaking short second round in committee, it will very likely pass with a slim, but sufficient majority. I have been loitering around the parliament for some time, taking to protesters and observing MPs hurrying in and out of the building, trying to avoid the angry questions from concerned citizens. But one thing is clear: the Swedish blogosphere lost the battle, but what a glorious battle it was.
Monday, 16 June 2008
Since the 1990s, a number of government agencies and other public authorities have experimented with increasing availability and possibilities for civic participation, using terms as e-democracy or e-government to categorise what they are doing.
Increased participation in this form has most commonly been seen as a way of increasing or improving input legitimacy in governance. In the example I will delve on here, output legitimacy is far more important.
The main idea behind collective knowledge systems can be summarised in the words of the French philosopher Pierre Levy: “Nobody knows all, everybody knows something, all knowledge resides in humanity.” Knowledge produced as an aggregate of what many people know is better than knowledge emanating from a single individual. Extrapolating, political decisions made on these premises are better than decisions made on information provided by a single bureaucrat or government expert.
However, no more than Wikipedia is the result of equal participation of peers, collective intelligence as a method for information gathering for government purposes will almost unavoidably gather expert knowledge effectively rather than democratise the production of knowledge.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office is since June 2007 using collective knowledge systems to evaluate patent applications in the Peer To Patent Project. The public is invited to scrutinise applications, and, according to the agency, the project will “empirically demonstrate the role that lay experts might play in improving decision making”.
The main problem of evaluating patent applications is to find out whether the patent brings something new to existing knowledge. The technical term is “locating prior art”. With the base of knowledge and the number of innovations growing exponentially, this becomes increasingly difficult, and it is impossible for a single bureaucrat to attain the knowledge needed in the process of establishing prior art in any given field. By opening up the process, someone or some people who have actually got that knowledge might be able to help.
Community reviewers register on the project site and have the possibility to go through applications and existing patents, scientific articles or other documents that might be said to define the prior art in the relevant field. This is a work carried out by a group of community reviewers and the participants discuss what document should be seen as important. In the end, what is agreed upon as the most important documents are sent to the Office.
For the sake of argument, I will not comment on the fast that the project seems to have failed: the number of community reviewers are at the time of writing alarmingly low. The relevant question is whether this is a form of democratised knowledge production.
A community reviewer must, in order to give relevant input to establishing the prior art concerning for instance computer software, have some form of pre-existing expert knowledge in the field. Potential participants might be anyone, but it doesn’t seem likely that anyone who hasn’t got the interest and knowledge would care the least for working - for free! - for a government agency. Also, the agency would hardly worry about any concerns raised by unknowing amateurs. The participating citizens must therefore be experts.
Apologists nevertheless maintain that the project is about enhanced democracy. I would rather hold that this is about expanding an elite of experts, not increasing political participation or contributing to equality. This does not mean that collective knowledge systems in public agencies shouldn’t be used. Only that they should not be used with the argument that they increase democracy.
Sunday, 15 June 2008
This Wednesday, the Swedish parliament is voting on a bill proposing a law, named the Lex Orwell, that will make it possible for the government to monitor digital communication passing the national border. This means in effect, taking into account the fact that almost all communication in one or another stage passes the border, that the government will be able to read e-mails, text messages and listen to mobile phone calls from every citizen. For a summary in English and a European context, read this.
This law proposal has been the subject of a heated debate in the Swedish blogosphere for years, although traditional media has not picked up on the debate. Until now.
The government planned to take the law proposal through parliament when no one, it was assumed, would care about politics - in the upcoming week, when all eyes will be diverted towards the Euro 2008 football tournament, as well as enjoying the first hot Summer days of June. In that way, the bill would be accepted quietly and smooth, without a debate in the media.
For once, it actually seems as if the Swedish political blogosphere is going to make a difference in domestic politics. The campaign against the law proposal, spear-headed by liberal bloggers feeling that the Center-Right government is betraying liberalism's core views on private integrity, has grown to an anti-government blog quake in the past weeks. Thousands of blog posts, linking to each other, among other things made that the Swedish blog portal/billboard knuff.se didn't show anything but Lex Orwell-related material for days.
Finally, traditional media cathced on (here as summarized in English in The Local). The government coalition parties' youth organisations are pressing "their" MPs to vote "No" on Wednesday. So are regular citizens. All the methods of viral political mobilisation are being used: YouTube videos, Facebook groups, massive text messaging - all encouraging liberal MPs to follow their convictions rather than the party whip and for citizens to call their MPs. The opposition parties are all against the bill, and all that it takes for the law proposal to fall is for four liberal MPs to go against their party lines.
The vote is on Wednesday morning, June 18, 2008. Is this the defining moment of viral politics in Sweden?
Oh, and here are some other blog posts, mostly in Swedish, debating the law:
blogge bloggelito, bloggen Bent, Thomas Tvivlaren, deep.edition, Johan Ronström, Henrik Alexandersson, Svensson, Drottningsylt, Erik Hultin, Mina Moderata Karameller, BetaAlfa, ProjO, Herr Klokbok, Felten fabulerar, andra sidan, I huvudet på Svenssons, Åsiktstorped, piratjanne, Seo-Sem, Ur Hjärtat, Nalles tankar från roten, Alter Ego, Christian Engström, Tantrablog, Loci.se, Badlands Hyena, Den osynliga bloggen, Free and thinking, Det progressiva USA, Other blogs on the subject.
* * *
Thursday, 10 April 2008
Thursday, 3 April 2008
A few days ago, Gravel announced that he was now seeking the Libertarian Party nomination for president. He still has no chance of actually being elected, but he is still collaborating with innovative artists, reinventing political communication.
Like in this video. "Helter Skelter X aka Electro Skeletor" is a cover of Beatles' Helter Skelter featuring Mike Gravel reciting the lyrics to pictures of the Kennedy assassination, Malcolm X, Robert Kennedy, presidents Johnson, Nixon, Reagan and Bush Jr. as well as footage from the Vietnam and Iraq wars and 9/11, finishing with president Eisenhower's famous warning of the "military-industrial complex" in his farewell adress in 1961.
I'm not sure that I like the somewhat Mansonian touch of it, but it is still fascinating.
Friday, 28 March 2008
My Spanish is a bit shaky, but the video below (from an emo rally in Mexico City on March 15) is clear enough (although I'm not quite sure about what the Hare Krishnas at the end of the clip are trying to accomplish).
It's a viral, however!
Thursday, 20 March 2008
So the last post was probably the last in Swedish for a while. I have been thinking a lot about cosmopolitanism, global civil society, the global public sphere and the like for a while, and I came to the conclusion that it would be ridiculous to keep blogging in Swedish with a research agenda like that.
At numerous occasions I have found myself frustrated trying to read blog posts that seem interesting in languages I don't understand (thanks to Global Voices, I manage to understand a bit more). I made the final decision to switch to English talking to an Indian friend (a car dealer, as it happens) yesterday.
For my old Swedish speaking readers (I don't know who you are as I haven't got a tracking device yet, but I have my suspicions): stop whining. Of course you can English. For any newcomers from other language areas: you are most welcome!
As readers of this blog probably have noticed, posting has been sparse and irregular. There is no blogroll. Etc. One of the main reasons for this is that I did not figure out what my target audience was. Academic colleagues? Polisci students? Friends? The Interested Public? Was I going to write only about my own research or about other things as well? As a result of my not knowing what this blog was for, I wound up not being able to write at all, even though I wanted.
I have now decided to cut myself some slack. From now on, this blog will be about many things, research related or not, accessible to all. And as always, my socialist rantings will be confined to erlanderbrigaderna (in Swedish).
And the target audience? Myself and anyone who happens to pass by.
En kompis tipsade mig om att jag "inpasserats i gubbslemsbloggosfären", med vilket hon menade att erlanderbrigaderna dök upp på Kalle Palmås (99, our 68) fantastiska visualiserade analys av hur nätverk mellan bloggande manliga samhällsvetare och humanister växer fram. Analysen visar inkommande länkningar till Palmås och två av hans (manliga) kompisars bloggar under 460 dagar. (Nej, det är inte bara manliga bloggare som länkar till varandra, men tendensen är tydlig.)
"Mappa-mitt-gubbslem"-projektet var en spin-off från en bloggpost av Johan Karlsson på Mothugg - "Den akademiska bastuklubben börjar blogga" där svenska bloggande samhällsvetare och/eller akademiker listades (däribland er egen Nils Gustafsson). Många män, få kvinnor. Diskussionen i kommentarfältet, om varför det ser ut så, är spännande och lärorik.
Och det inlägget var i sin tur inspirerat av Andreas Berghs "Högkonjunktur för svenska NEK-bloggar" om imbalansen mellan svenska statsvetar- och nationalekonombloggar.
Jag är inte helt säker vad det beror på. Som Vänstra Stranden skriver i en kommentar:
"De kvinnliga bloggare som skriver om politik är mindre ofta samhällsvetare utan aktiva politiker. Det är i alla fall min erfarenhet, de flesta av dem har en akademisk utbildning i botten men bloggar utifrån sin politiska plattform. Kanske krävs det skäggväxt för att våga tro att man har något att säga bara för att man råkar fått en utbildning… :-) /VS"
Fast jag tror också att det finns något självförstärkande i det här. Relationer och kopplingar online har ju en tendens att likna relationer off-line (eller onffline, som Joshua Levy kanske skulle uttrycka det). Män tycker om att ta plats, prata högt, framhäva sig själv och, framförallt, göra det i grupp med andra män. Gubbslemsbloggosfären är i själva verket en ond romb (eller ett ont rhizom, kanske) av manligt ryggdunkande/kompislänkande.
Å andra sidan förklarar inte det helt den starka närvaron av kvinnliga (parti-)politiska bloggare i den svenska bloggosfären (även om det vore intressant att göra liknande nätverksstudier på samlänkande mellan några centrala politiska bloggar).
Men å tredje sidan har jag i detta inlägg redan länkat till fyra manliga bloggande samhällsvetare.
För att avsluta: Den 3 september 2004 intervjuades jag i Radio AF:s Bastuklubben (man kan fortfarande lyssna på programmet om man följer länken). Men det var ju innan jag började blogga.
Och allra, allra sist: en svensk bloggande statsvetare (manlig) som inte har nämnts i någon av de här diskussionerna är min doktorandkollega Rasmus Karlsson. Bara ett tips.
(Korspublicerad på erlanderbrigaderna.)
Monday, 17 March 2008
Den är ett försvar för Kinas överhöghet över Tibet, med all sannolikhet gjord av en kines (jag kan inte läsa kinesiska och förstår därför inte produktionsuppgifterna i slutet). Jag tänker inte uttala mig om argumentationen i filmen (även om det hade varit frestande: bland annat försvaras Kinas närvaro i Tibet med att Skottland ingår i Storbritannien, och därför har västerlänningar ingen rätt att ha några synpunkter).
Nej, det intressanta är att stödet för ett fritt Tibet är så dominerande i västvärlden att det känns märkligt att se en film som så kraftigt argumenterar emot den ståndpunkten. Den Andre (kinesen, österlänningen, vad ni vill) slår tillbaka.
Det känns kanske inte helt korrekt att kalla detta för ett inlägg i en interkulturell dialog (antalet "fuck" och den aggressiva tonen gör det svårt att veta vad syftet egentligen är), men kanske kan det ses som ett fragment i en framväxande global opinionsbildning (eller, mer pessimistiskt uttryckt, opinionskrig) där röster från alla delar av världen deltar.
Förutsättningen är naturligtvis att konversationen förs på engelska. Det finns förmodligen tusen och åter tusen opinionsyttringar på samma tema från Kina som inte når en västerländsk publik. Och jag tror inte för ett ögonblick att filmen får särskilt många västerlänningar att ompröva sitt stöd för Dalai Lama eller Tibets självständighet, men intressant är det.
Wednesday, 12 March 2008
Det här är kanske lite för internt...men nån gång 2001 spelade Jon Waltersson, då stationschef på Radio AF, numer högstadielärare, in Alexander Jerneck, numer doktorand i sociologi vid University of Pennsylvania, under en ytterst blöt radiopub.
Alexander talade huvudsakligen om potlatch som antropologiskt begrepp.
Jag klippte ihop ljudfilen med lite musik.
Friday, 29 February 2008
Wednesday, 27 February 2008
Idag modererade jag en debatt om studentbostäder i regi av Lunds kommuns studentråd och som synes fortsatte samtalet även efter den offentliga diskussionens slut. Här ses från höger Jörgen Jörgensson (fp), Tomas Avenborg (m), Christine Jönsson (m) och Anders Almgren (s) utväxla idéer på Café Athen i AF-borgen i Lund.
Thursday, 14 February 2008
Jag har inte uppdaterat den här bloggen särskilt ofta på sistone, men jag har lovat mig själv att tänka mer över hur jag vill använda den. Inom de närmaste veckorna kommer inläggstakten att öka, liksom länkarna och övriga resurser. Och kanske kommer jag att byta språk till engelska. Vi får se.