My thanks to Itir Akdogan PhD for informing the Democracies Online Exchange: http://groups.dowire.org/groups/exchange about the publication of a new report “The Use of Social Media in Finnish Parliament Elections 2011” (PDF, 32 pages, 480 Kb) by Irina Khaldarova, Salla-Maaria Laaksonen & Janne Matikainen of the Communication Research Centre CRC, Department of Social Research, University of Helsinki.
Since it is reporting on the parliamentary representative democracy of a country where there is also an active use of new technologies I believe this report should give some guidance as to what can be expected elsewhere. Unfortunately it concludes by writing of politicians that “their way of using social media mostly reminds one-way mass communication”, which is something warned of on this blog earlier and then continues “In this sense it seems that despite the high hopes laid upon social media services as a tool of e-democracy, there still exists a gap between politicians and citizens. Social media will not foster deliberative democracy unless it is truly used for two-way communication and as a platform for conversation.” And it can’t come much clearer than that! This is based on the conclusions from the data that “the study shows that social media does not play the role in the Finnish politics as it is usually ascribed for. The power of social media in the recent elections has been obviously exaggerated as most of the elected MPs can hardly be considered as active or very popular social media users.”
Whether this experience is something particularly Finnish remains to be seen, but it currently appears that deliberative democracy will not be created from the representative kind through the employment of social media.