Friday, October 5, 2012

Q Day 4: Technology and Political Information

An anonymous commenter asks:
What are the biggest ways that technology and the Internet have changed the way we consume political news and make political decisions over the past 30 years? Have those changes impacted election outcomes, in your opinion? Can you make a sci-fi guess about how elections and electoral politics will look in the next 30 years?
The biggest difference in how we get our political information over the last thirty years is the rise, or really the revival, of the partisan press.

Some of that appears to be technology related, right? I don't know actually know that the transition from three-networks-plus-PBS-plus a local independent into our hundred of channels world was technology, but assuming it was, that was part of it. Blogs and other online media are part of it. The radio side is presumably not technology-related...except to the extent that FM radio opened up AM radio for talk, which was technology (as far as I know, at least).

What I don't know is whether technology was responsible for the broader strengthening of what I call "expanded" parties -- that is, parties which have major informal components along with the formal party organizations. It seems to have started in the 1970s or so, but we still don't have a good account or explanation as far as I know.

As far as the next thirty years...the big question, it seems to me, is the survival of the "neutral" press, and how much of a role they'll play.

The second big technology question about political information is what happens to information about state and local politics in the new world. I don't have any answers to that, but it's a very big deal and it's hard not to be pessimistic about it.

I will say this: anyone who really favors both federalism and democracy should probably be focused above all on finding out some solution to the problem of state and local political information.

1 comment:

  1. The role of Facebook in politics is worthy of some study. So much of my feed consists of dueling political content. And people share their political opinions much more than they might in real life.

    It would be interesting to know what effect that has on voter activity. I expect it is rather significant.


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