The Presidential Elections of 2008 brought to you by Wikipedia

During a recent interview of Jimmy Wales, that I live blogged, an important realization dawned on me. In the next presidential elections Wikipedia will be one of the primary places for Americans to get news and information. A quick Google search on any election related topic provides a Wikipedia page among the top 5 results (often number one). So, what does this mean?

First, it means that you should get in now. Take a look at the page for the 2008 presidential elections, make some contributions and start watching the page grow. It is going to be a fascinating case study of how a wiki can work. Not to mention the potential impact that your contributions can have. Just think, a word you add could be viewed by millions of Americans.

Second, it means that the American political landscape is changing. Or, as the Emperor said “with each passing moment you (politicians) make yourself more my servant (web 2.0).” Debates are being held via youtube; candidates are communicating using blogs, second life, twitter, RSS, and more. And, now Americans are going to get a substantial bit of their information from us, the users. We are volunteers, fanatics, unpaid campaigners, and all other disruptive sorts. Watch out national newspapers, campaign websites, and lobbyists you have some competition.

Third, Wikipiedia will have the perfect opportunity to shine and embed itself in the mind of the American public. In the aforementioned Jimmy Wales interview, someone asked him about the potential for vandalism due to the controversial nature of the topic. In usual fashion with full wiki confidence, Jimmy easily shrugged it off. And, as any Wikipedian knows he has full reason to.

Vandalism in the space is easily controlled and minimized. Reverting malicious additions by the way of the history tab or a bot. Diffusing debates via the discussion pages. Catching almost every edit through a strong user community and page watching.

Fourth and final, this helps our country to become more democratic. The people of America will be building the knowledge, debating the facts, and creating a neutral repository of facts for the country to learn about. This “virtual town hall” has the potential to get ordinary citizens involved in politics in a way our forefathers could have never envisioned.

So, join the fray, add your brain to the meld, and have some fun. And, oh yeah, enjoy the 2008 Presidential Elections brought to you by Wikipedia.

One reply on “The Presidential Elections of 2008 brought to you by Wikipedia”

  1. In a multi-party system that wants to be recognized as a two party system, it may be interesting to see if the American public can begin to influence each other via an online social medium.

    Wikipedia has the power, as you said, to cut through and clarify true popular opinion. If that opinion begins to target a multi-party candidate there is potentially a forum for them to reach their audience and influence from the ground up. If were lucky we might actually hear the voices of Non-Democrat/Republican sentiments.

    Now if we could only do something about that damned electoral college once we vote for them!

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