The E-government Bulletin issue 321 (12 October 2010) picks up on some research from Brunel University about to be published in the Transforming Government: People, Process and Policy journal.
What caught my eye were the final two paragraphs of the piece:
“Overall, the research suggests that popular issues generate significant activity in the social networking sphere that does not translate into petition signatures. In responding to petitions, officials and elected representatives need to consider how representative the petition is of wider public opinion. Traditionally, media activity around a petition has added to its weight but now perhaps social network activity should also be seen as indication of broader public sympathy.
It seems that the fact that internet users embrace technologies such as social networks for ad hoc political expression doesn’t mean that they will demonstrate equal support for formal political initiatives, even if they are concerned about them.”
Personally I find this significant. With all the coverage that social media will regenerate a politically indolent society, this seems to indicate that it applies as long as you don’t expect people to get off their backsides and do something! As someone who has been active within the community for decades this explains a lot about what is happening, it’s OK as long as you only want a virtual community. Welcome to the Matrix!