Friday, June 13, 2008

British Parliament's Use of Twitter, Blogs, and YouTube...

Here in the States, we tend to think of our government as badly in need of more openness and transparency, but perceptions in the UK are far worse, particularly for that historical bastion of aristocracy, the House of Lords.

As this Wired article describes, that may be changing. The House of Lords has just created its own YouTube channel filled with videos highlighting its multiculturalism and diversity. Maybe this is a clever piece of propaganda, but the site makes clear its intention to webcast videos of actual parliamentary debates in the near future.

Hold on, you C-SPAN junkies, that's not all. The House of Lords has taken other pro-active steps to become more open and accessible to its citizens. Using various forms of Web 2.0 media, it has already created a Twitter feed and maintains a relatively popular blog. Titled "Lords of the Blog", its stated goal is "to encourage direct dialogue between web users across the world and Members of the House of Lords". Worthy of noting is that most blog posts on the site aren't pieces of fluff, but rather provide thoughtful commentary on actual political issues.

While Parliament's efforts to engage younger citizens is admirable, we in the States nevertheless can't help but reserve our enthusiasm. After all, we've had C-SPAN broadcasting from Congress since 1979, and, well, let's just say the ratings don't quite rival those of "American Idol".

Using the internet in support of more openness and transparency in government is a fabulous idea... only if people actually pay attention and watch it.


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