Those of you who know me know that I have dedicated much of my political blogging to the examination of how current technology (i.e. the web) continues to affect our politics. I have blogged about political divisiveness as a symptom of the technical landscape that we use for communications today. That landscape has, in the past generation or so, grown to include opinionated and biased mass-media pundits, supported by an immature and fractious political internet. Unfortunately the web has only become TV that yells back at you.
The natural uses for the web with politics have only just started to emerge, and they are starting to stir the political world very slightly: online fundraising, political blogs and videos are the leading edge of this change. The higher-order uses of the web for political discussion that I can envision, though, support productive and responsible political discussion on a personal level as well as for larger groups. A political web such as that more closely matches the media mix in place during the 18th century, when philosophers and pamphleteers published ideas and debates happened person to person.
Luckily for us, that immature and fractious web is constantly evolving, mellowing, refining itself, and blending into mainstream media At some point in our lifetimes, it will grow roots - real political institutions that will supplant television as the medium of choice for political communication. That will be a joyous day but although I can get a glimpse of that future of politics I haven't been able to see any way for us to get there until now.
Today - Shawn Micallef writes in Eye magazine about the start of the TTC Riders Union: http://www.eyeweekly.com/blog/post/82013
The TTC Riders Union is a brilliant idea because it contains all the touchstones of old media organization and could have existed as a protest group at any point in the last generation. But it is also a Facebook group that reaches across the technological divide to the larger citizenry. This model could mobilize groups that respond to old world and new world (or no world) technologies.
Better yet, the new-media aspects of this group will be able to provide a designated intellectual forum where principles, priorities and ideas can be executed efficiently. As such, it has the potential to solve problems not just for the TTC, but to serve as a model for other such action/discussion groups. As Mr. Micallef points out, the group itself needs to be
designed to be non-partisan and non-ideological, purposed towards promoting the general interests of TTC riders only.
So this is not Democracy 2.0, but perhaps Democracy 1.9. A little less technology based, and a little more people based. As such, we hope that this initiative gains hold of the public imagination.