3rd International Conference on e-Democracy

The 3rd International Conference on e-Democracy this year took place in Athens, Greece. Invited speakers were Prof. Andrew S. Tanenbaum und Prof. Spiros Simitis.

Prof. Andrew S. Tanenbaum on: “Politics Meets the Internet”

Electoral-vote.com is a project, which was founded by Prof. Tanenbaum in 2004 to highlight the United States’ electoral votes on a map. Information about the web site was spread by word of mouth. When the site became virus-infected he had to change servers. Initially Tanenbaum drew all the graphics by hand, later a citizen from North Dakota offered to do them by feeding the raw data to a kind of JavaScript program. An increasing number of features had been added by the end of 2004. Using money from donations he began marketing on blogs which also contained small icons depicting the electoral votes Kerry vs. Bush. Clicking the icon would bring the reader to electoral-vote.com. In 2008 the site covered the federal election, senate elections and house elections.

The Dean Campaign

The Dean Campaign was really the precursor of Obama’s election as he already used blogs. The campaign was designed using a bottom-up approach, meaning that citizens were driving the campaign from the outside. This brought Dean more than 1 million supporters.

Important principles were:

  • Be first
  • update often
  • write from a citizen’s point of view
  • tell the truth
  • build a community
  • cede control to the voters

By following these rules Obama’s electoral campaign was able to collect $ 600 million in citizens’ donations.

How to attack your opponent virtually

Nader used only the website votenader.org. Prof. Tanenbaum registered many Nader-related names and turned them into sites Nader would not have liked. Server farms interlinked those sites and they showed up among the first 10 search items on Google. In addition, once those sites were online, they would keep showing up on Google, regardless of how old the information was.

The Austrian E-Government Strategy

Johann Höchtl of Centre for E-Government gave a presentation on the upcoming E-Democracy strategy of the Austrian federal ICT board, which is still in progress. The slides are available online:

Key points are:

  • To strengthen and enhance democracy
    • by including citizens
    • and their knowledge
  • To improve processes and results in politics, administration and society
    • by using interactive media

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