The mesh Sessions: Can Blogs Influence Politics?

27 Apr ’06

When we first talked about organizing mesh, one of the topics that most excited us was the role that blogs are playing in political journalism in Canada, and the broader role that blogs are beginning to assume in fostering political discussion, debate and engagement, and stirring people toward action. Of course, this is almost commonplace south of the border, where American political blogs have practically become mainstream. But in Canada, this phenomenon is still nascent.

But we have an astonishingly talented body of people in this country who blog about politics, and do so with conviction, great passion and deep talent. Today’s citizen is facing a landscape of political discussion that looks very different than the world did even just 10 years ago.

Is the soapbox making a comeback?

Perhaps. But there is also reason to believe that blogs have little significance in the mainstream – even in this area; and more troubling, particularly in the U.S., one wonders whether blogs add to debate and discussion, or are simply creating echo chambers where like-minded people can gather to agree with each other about what’s wrong with those of different beliefs.

We’ll be considering these and related issues at mesh in a panel session on the 15th, to be moderated by Warren Kinsella, and featuring Andrew Coyne, Paul Wells, and Ed Morrissey (of the Captain’s Quarters blog). And later in that day we’ll also have a workshop on mashing the vote – a workshop moderated by Phillip Smith of Social Tech Brewing and Chris Nolan of Kweschun on how Web 2.0 is bringing technology to the grassroots of political awareness and organization. And later in the day we’ll be holding other panels that will look at related questions on the role Web 2.0 is playing on the important institutions and relationships in society and the underpinnings of democracy, citizenship and social engagement, etc.

Full schedule details are on the mesh site. Please also feel free to drop by the wiki – we welcome suggestions there for unconference content that plays off of, extends or digs deeper into these topics, and the wiki also describes some delicious tags that you can use to flag content that might be relevant to all of this.

Update: the mesh guys are busy writing about this as well. Stuart posts on chickens in pots here and here, Mark wonders here about a Jane Jacobs blog, Mathew chimes in here and Mike here.

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