Saturday, February 16, 2008

Internet Prompts a New Kind of Student Engagement in Politics


Here are some snippets from Washington Post reporter’s Jose Antonio Vargas story on computer technology contribution to the young’s engagements in the current presidential election and politics.

Vargas reports on Eugenia Garcia, a Harvard University student, and her attachment to computer resources to abet her involvement in the presidential primaries. Gracia, concerned about the war in Iraq, our healthcare system, global warming, immigration controls, is an avid users of blogging, e-mail chains, MeetUp groups, YouTube, Facebook and MySpace. She attributes the interest in politics among the young to online possibilities that make the news fast breaking and also interactive. On blogs and social networking sites, readers readily post comments.

Garcia daily makes her rounds of the Web—consulting BBC.com, chatting with friends on Skype, and checking a plethora of political sites like VoteGopher.com, a site created by students for students, or anyone interested in the political scene. VoteGohper.com, per Garcia, prompts young people to be well-informed citizens and voters.Founded this past October by a 20-year-old Harvard sophomore Will Ruben, VoteGopher illustrates the young not only use the Internet to keep informed but assume responsibility for accuracy and currency in reporting on the campaign trail. Evident of the power of the site, Rudy Giuliani and Hillary Clinton posted positions statements. VoteGopher features 16 issues, among them education, health care, the Iraq War, global warming—topics of concern to the young. The site's motto is, "We dig, you decide."
Reporting on the Ruben and his staff of 25, Vargas observes students research debate transcripts, scour YouTube videos, and scout through countless news sites for content. Though users can make submissions, their contributions are filtered before posting.Washington-based Pew Internet & American Life Project Lee Rainie comments of VoteGopher: "It's impressive what they've been able to put together. Back in the pre-Internet era, these students would have just attended town hall meetings, stuffed envelopes, maybe made some phone calls to be involved. These days they're starting their own websites."As we all know, voter turnout in the primaries among those in their 20s has skyrocketed. Not only is this demographic group shaping politics, they are authoring it. The Internet, in that vein, has increased citizen participation in the political scene.

What are your thoughts about how the political process will be shaped by the Internet? What are the pros? What about cons? What about youth involvement?

Source: The Hartford Courant, February 17, 2008, , http://www.courant.com/news/education/hc-sundayvotegopher.artfeb17,0,5721641.story>
Cartoon source: EliSteinCartoons.com

1 comment:

Sherri said...

I think it is great. It is like grassroots evolved: webroots. Ok that is corny,but it is true. Computer technology speaks the language of the younger generation. It is not surprising that University students are using it to get their voices heard. Certainly, the sharing of misinformation is probable,but what else is new in politics.
In addition, the internet increases the size of the political audience, which gives a new spin to the word democracy. The pros definitely outweigh the cons. We can only benefit from the additional political conversations generated from the internet.

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