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Extremely interesting piece. Tim - what more do you think can be done in the counrty with regards online campaigning? How far are we behind what's happening in the States?

Some very interesting ideas indeed. This item should be passed on to the people close to David Cameron - those running his private office, Francis Maude etc because the party could get something along these lines up and running before the next election if they get their act together now.

I would make one further comment - these ideas should not only be thought of in terms of attracting just the 18-25 year olds - there are more and more people right across the age spectrum now using the net for all sorts of things, especially in the 30-55 year olds which is an age range we need to target. Also don't neglect the grey voters because there is a very high usage amongst them as well and their power is growing as we are now entering the era where the baby boomers are becoming pensioners and they are a generation that keeps up with modern technology and refuses to grow old.

Jonathan: At some point I intend to write a mini manifesto on the internet and politics... watch this space!

Jenny: I agree with you on older voters. Many older people use the web - particularly certain kinds of website. Crucially they are also what Americans call "influentials" or "connectors". They get inspired/ enraged by what they read and they pass on the news to others.

It's an interesting development. However, I would ask those advocating more online advertising, blogs, virals, webcasts, podcasts to remember one thing. The only reason we can use the internet like this is because it is unregulated. You just wait. There will be those who don't think political parties can be made to play fair. The same luddites who want state funding will also propose some ridiculous regulator for the net as regards electioneering. If political parties are exploiting the net for all its possibilities then they should avoid hypocrisy by keeping the net free and unregulated.

Don't knock bloggers, they're not professionals (not most anyway)and they do it for fun, but they keep plugging away. Nobody has a monopoly on publishing comment anymore, and sometimes they get it right. The better bloggers will just have to try harder. Similarly, as we've seen from the criticisms of David Milliband's poor effort, being an "official" source is no guarantee of relevance of honesty.

If you're worried about people pulling off dirty tricks then you have one of two options. Either do it better than the other side or bust them, let the elecorate know, and make yourself look good. Or both, if you're clever. Don't write yourselves too many rules, you might regret it.

Henry: I think you are right about the danger of too many rules suffocating the internet. The internet should largely be a self-regulating mechanism. Blogs that lie or mislead will be exposed by other bloggers and will suffer accordingly (unless, of course, their lies/ spoofs etc are deliberately misleading and are designed to entertain).

The great lie the internet exposes is, of course, the lie of impartiality that broadcasters like the BBC rely upon to maintain their monopoly on the licence fee. By providing a democracy of diverse voices the internet adds greatly to the national conversation.

It is not just bloggers who are making political inroads online. It is interesting to see how sensitive the parties and leaders have become to the internet satire.

Satire is an excellent way to expose political folly, and in the USA it showed its impact during the 2000 presidential election when the editor of the excellent whitehouse.org had a site gwbush.com aimed at making its point through political satire.

The Bush team demanded its closure in the run up to the 2000 election with Bush's immortal quote:
"There ought to be limits to freedom,"

With the USA a long way ahead of the UK, I wonder if a similar situation will occur over here.

Most of the political satire sites I cover on satiresearch.com are US focussed but many new UK sites are appearing and it will be interesting to see if UK online political satire will be effectively utilised in the next election, whether with satire or humorous animations etc. Humour can be a very powerful online political tool.

Satire and humour are vital tools, Chad.

The biggest day for the White House website - by a long way - wasn't 9/11 or the State of the Union or Iraq's elections... but the launch of BarneyCam.

Animals and humour - a winning combo.

Editor; Completely agree with your last comment. The BBC is crazy. It thinks that it can see ten years ahead into the future. The chances are that TV's, as standalone devices, will have disappeared by then. Most TV will be via broadband ect. The more work people can do now to diversify the content and means of delivery of media then the sooner we can be free of the strangle hold of the BBC.

Yes, Satire and humour do work - Rory Bremner doing Tony Blair, nobody does Blair like Bremner.

And I love 2DTV.

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