Sunday, January 28, 2007

18 Doughty Street - pioneering open-source campaigning

As I expect some will know, 18 Doughty Street recently re-launched its website. The new site is certainly much easier to navigate than the previous incarnation, and there is now a section titled "Campaign HQ". The idea behind Campaign HQ is quite simple really, each week 18DS will highlight an issue which "the establishment" media fails to cover adequately and will produce a professional campaign video/advert on that subject.

The key to this though is that it will be the users of the site, rather than simple 18 Doughty Street itself, that will decide the form this video should take. Each week will essentially see an RFC on a subject, and the best ideas will be pitched into videos concepts and then put to the user community in an online vote, the winner will then be made using the professional production facilities at 18DS's disposal.

The Deputy Editor of ConservativeHome, Sam Coates, has described this, quite appropriately, as "open source campaigning". Empowering a user community to be involved, via the Internet, in political activity which has the ability and scope to reach opinion formers. Through the use of the Internet, the "little guy" as it were, can have an impact on politics that has never before been possible.

The first video, which will be launched on Tuesday, will be about the issue of tax, and the record tax burden we are now facing. The video was created in conjunction with the Taxpayer Alliance. The second video is to be on the rather worrying noises towards state funding of political parties. Three ideas from user contributions have been promoted by Claire Fox, Stephan Shakespeare and Phillip Oppenheim, and the voting as now opened here.

Personally I think this innovative use of the Internet and media to encourage political participation deserves a lot of praise. In recent years politics has become quite a small club, very difficult to enter, the Internet, and 18 Doughty Street in particular, is trying to change that by positively encouraging user communities to be in charge of content. In the coming decade I think the ideas being pioneered in the UK by 18 Doughty Street will become much more commonplace.

Don't forget to vote for the video concept of your choice.


Martine Martin said...

Agreed Dizzy. I voted for Phillip Oppenheim incidentely, and I have to say it was nice to have the opportunity to do so.

I'm tearing my hair out though because I can't seem to watch the newly remade 18 Doughty Street. It just buffers and remains that way for hours. Reckon I need a software update somewhere? Just thought I'd ask you since there's probably a really simple explanation!

Tejus Ramakrishnan said...


Anonymous said...

Is it correct to term it Open Source? I thought that meant source code being open to anyone to re-write/add to/etc (like Linux)?

dizzy said...

Open Source, in trms of code, is a general term that can mean different thinks dependent on the license agreement under which it is distributed.

It is also a much wider philosophical term referring to the use of community driven project to generate code/content.

Anonymous said...

Fair point, I'm just a little cagey about getting carried away with it's use like that.

For some reason it seems a little too buzz wordy (something I heavily dislike about the way the MSM work) which makes me cringe...