Saturday, May 06, 2006

LPC(O) Day Two: Bloggers meet Ignatieff

Brad Davis, Internet guru for the Michael Ignatieff campaign, extended an invite for interested Libloggers to meet with his candidate at the LPC(O) convention this afternoon. Myself and maybe eight others bloggers took him up on the offer.

I didn’t take any notes so I’ll just offer my recollected thoughts and impressions. And in the interest of full disclosure I’ll say Ignatieff isn’t on my leadership shortlist, I was just interested to hear what we had to say.

I started things off by asking what, with political parties reaching out to bloggers, he sees the role of bloggers in the political process to be: are they media, an arm of the party communications apparatus, or somewhere in between?

I thought he came down pretty firmly on the media side. His point was there are no more private conversations; anything you say in public could end up on a blog and in the public domain. And he said that’s a good thing. It means people like him need to be on their toes, but openness and transparency is a good thing for the process.

He mentioned a speech he gave to maybe 75 people in Calgary a few months back, before he was a candidate. Never expecting it to be a big deal, he mentioned in passing he was thinking of running. The next day it’s all over the blogsphere and is a news story, much sooner then he’d necessarily have liked his leadership musings to be out there. He said it was a hard but necessary lesson for him: anything he says anywhere is open game for public discourse.

On the issue of the influence of bloggers in the wider political discourse Ignatieff said he does see them as influential, particularly among the younger generation, and that people come to blogs as a source of news and facts. He also made some interesting comments on the need for accuracy in blogs, but said he sees a self-correcting nature in the blogsphere similar to the process at Wikipedia.

I don’t think I totally agree with that. While media certainly do monitor the blogs for tips, I still think the blogsphere is very much an echo chamber, though that’s changing. I read blogs more for views and opinions than news, I don’t see the MSM being replaced there.

And it’s because of the accuracy issue. I don’t think the self-correction is there yet, although there are certainly different classes of bloggers: those that do make a try for fairness, or at least reasonableness, and the partisan cheerleaders/smear artists. It’s not difficult to guess which group has some wider credibility, and the potential for wider influence.

Anyway, it was interesting to hear Ignatieff’s thoughts on blogging issues, and I thank Brad and his team for extending the invite. I’m glad his team is taking a progressive approach to the Web, as evidenced by their new Web site. I hope the other candidates will continue to reach out to bloggers, and that the party will begin to recognize them as a legitimate part of the process.

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the wrestler said...

While you were there, did you subject the doctor to any "coercive interrogation"?

A BCer in Toronto said...

I left that to one of the other bloggers actually...

Zac said...

I was a bit disappointed that the only subject was blogging, I was hoping to talk a bit about policy. Either way though, it was great to sit down a talk with Ignatieff.