I’ve been meaning to put this up here for yonks—it was deadline week at Prospect HQ last week, which has the habit of getting in the way of a man and his blog—but better late than never. Tomorrow evening Prospect (along with the excellent people at Demos) is hosting an intriguing debate about the internets, and what mean for politics. It is also a chance to see our cover star, Evgeny Morozov, who is in London for one night only. (Evgeny’s piece is here, and Clay Shirky’s response here—EM will also be on Start the Week tomorrow, 9am, Radio 4). Details below, and there are a few places still left — so if you are free, RSVP to email@example.com.
The title of this debate is “Is the Internet Really Changing Politics?” —and it’s a debate I seem to have been having for at least a decade. It tends to involve someone constructing a nice big straw man of someone who thinks that the internet is going to change politics irrevocabily. No one actually believes this, but this point of view (which is normally dubbed “techno-utopian” by someone by the minute 3 mark of any debate on the subject) is a useful construct. So the question becomes—how far do you go? 24 hour news cycles, databases to track voter preferences, politicians with email lists and Google docs, and all this before the online chit-chat of the blog world, and this year’s “must parse” techno-political innovation: Twitter. Add to this how differently political and technological systems interact: we Brits, for instance, have less money to spend on technology but more concentrated forms of power than the US, meaning that the US is more naturally suited both as a system of government and a political cash-nexus to online innovation.
Anyway, that is just to say I think the debate is going to be genuinely interesting—in Evgeny Morozov we have one of the freshest, most challenging takes on this broad topic of the interaction between revolutionary changes in communication technology, and our maturing understanding of politics and governance. So you should come if you can. More details below the jump.
Is the internet really changing politics?
- 14th December 2009, 06:00PM
- Demos, 3rd Floor Magdalen House, 136 Tooley St, London SE1 2TU
Rishi Saha, Head of New Media, Conservative Party
Evgeny Morozov, Yahoo Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Diplomacy at Georgetown University
Tom Watson MP for West Bromwich East
John Lloyd, Director of Journalism at Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism, Oxford University; Contributing Editor, Financial Times
James Crabtree, Managing Editor, Prospect (Chair)
From Obama raising $500m online to David Cameron doing the dishes on Webcameron – is the internet changing how politics works? As the UK gears up to a general election, have we overrated the influence of technology on critical political events?
Join Demos and Prospect for a debate on whether the net is changing politics and campaigning, with Tory web guru Rishi Saha; pioneering Labour blogger Tom Watson MP; John Lloyd of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism; and special guest Evgeny Morozov of Georgetown University; chaired by Prospect’s James Crabtree.
The event will take place from 17.30 for an 18.00 start and run to 19.30 on Monday 14 December, at Demos, 3rd floor Magdalen House, 136 Tooley Street, London SE1 2TU.
RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 0207 367 6333 if you would like to attend. Please inform us of any access needs at this time.