New Candidatewatch platform launches today
It remains to be seen how much ’social’ or ‘online’ or ‘new media’ or ‘digital channels’ or whatever you’re having yourself will actually influence the outcome of General Election 2011. But there’s no doubt that the parties and individual candidates are paying a lot more attention to the tools offered by social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to communicate directly with voters. In the case of the larger parties, this often seems driven as much by a desire to be seen as down with the kids as by any real understanding of the potential (and the pitfalls) of new media.
In addition, a number of different online platforms are aiming to act as forums where voters can ask questions of candidates and track their answers over the course of the campaign. Some of these services appear to have been caught on the hop by the bringing forward of the election, and are struggling to get up and running in time to have an impact.
Today sees the launch of Candidatewatch, perhaps the most ambitious of these services. Originally set up in Germany, it has already operated during elections there and in Austria, Luxembourg and Ireland (the European Parliament elections in 2009). According to its founder, Gregor Hackmack, the objective is not just to facilitate communication over the course of the campaign, but to operate an ongoing service.
“We are planning to continue running the platform after the election,” says Hackmack. “This will enable voters to check whether the newly-elected TDs keep their campaign promises. Then, the questions of the electorate become yet more powerful.”
In Germany, since 2005, over 100.000 questions have been submitted by voters to more than 15,000 candidates and elected representatives. More than 80 per cent of these questions received a response. In 2010 the site, which is run by the non-profit ParliamentWatch. had 2.5 million users.
Check out Candidatewatch here and tell us what you think.
How should we improve our commenting, debating and interactivity on irishtimes.com?
With the rapid-fire speed for which we in mainstream media are renowned, I’m just getting around to acknowledging our delight here in The Irish Times at winning the Grand Prix award for Best Website in Ireland at the Irish Web Awards on October 16th. It was a great night, and the award means a lot to everyone in here who works hard to make the site better all the time.
Speaking of which… I made a commitment when accepting the other award we won, for Best Online Publication, that we would be redoubling our efforts in the next 12 months to make certain key improvements in what we do and how we do it. I and my colleagues are very aware that there are a considerable number of things we could do much better. It’s not that we don’t care about enhanced interactivity, better use of metadata, increased liveblogging, etc. But, we do have some quite complicated technological and organisational projects to undertake before we can realise our potential to the full.
One key objective for us in 2011 is to make irishtimes.com a better platform for debate on key issues which are of concern to our user community. This objective will include (but isn’t restricted to) better integration with social media; faster publication speeds for users who are engaging in conversations; and a broader range of threads than is currently available through our Have Your Say comments facility.
It would be ridiculous for us to embark on this project without asking you about it. So what would you like to see us do in this area? All ideas are welcome.
So what effect do Twitter referrals have on traffic to news sites? Next to none, apparently
It may seem strange or counter-intuitive to people like myself, who increasingly find themselves using Twitter as their preferred source of referrals and feeds for news content, reportage, opinion and analysis from media sites around the world, but new research from the European internet monitor AT Internet Institute shows that Twitter’s impact on news traffic in France is minuscule – only 0.1 per cent of referrals. Facebook is responsible for 1.3 per cent of traffic.
As PaidContent.org points out, these figures for Twitter are not dissimilar from those in the States, although Facebook has more referring power there.
It’s a well-known fact that journalists love Twitter for its speed, its brevity and its openness – it’s a gossip’s dream. But I wonder is it possible that their enthusiasm for the platform causes them to over estimate its importance in the media landscape?
Me and my shallow brain
My brain is turning to mush. My ability to concentrate on… oh, hang on a second. Gosh, look at that… now where was I? Yes, my brain is… Hey, look! A new email. What happens if I click on this? That was stupid. Right, so my brain is turning to… what’s that beeping noise?
Search Mechanical Turk