Wednesday, September 03, 2008

US election goes Google

Reflecting and building on the approach taken for last year's Australian Federal Election, Google has developed a comprehensive election coverage site for the upcoming Presidential race between Barack Obama and John McCain.

Looking at how the site presents public interest information, I cannot help but wonder why this type of material is being provided by commercial entities - who could choose to push an agenda - and is not yet available from a public entity.

As a way to generate voter interest, support participation, provide supporting information and put candidates in front of the people, I hope that we see this approach continue to grow over time.

Given the influence the internet now has, and the impact of effective online use by political candidates, I can see any politicians that choose not to embrace online participation being as a severe disadvantage in future elections.

Turning that question back on public sector organisations - if your department or agency isn't adequately investing in the online channel there is also the risk of becoming increasingly less able to engage, be influenced by and influence your constituents.

My view is that online needs to begin to be treated as more of a customer service channel than as a media channel and be internally planned, managed, supported and funded accordingly.

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