Is this going to be remembered as the politics 2.0 election? Probably not, but candidates ignore the growing web 2.0 “social networking” communities on sites like MySpace and Facebook at their peril.
The dangers of leaving it to others can come back to bite you. In the US, Barack Obama’s campaign has found itself in a legal dispute with one of his biggest supporters over ownership of Obama’s MySpace profile and its 160,000 contacts.
So I was both impressed and amused when I found what seemed to be an “official” Kevin Rudd page on Facebook and signed up as one of Kev’s friends. While the Kevin Rudd for PM MySpace page makes it clear that it is run by a supporter (who ran it back before Kev was even leader), the Facebook page claims explicitly that it comes from “the Rudd team.”
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It lists Rudd’s actual electoral office number, his parliamentary email address and urges people to register to vote. It tells us, amongst other things, that Kevin’s favourite music is classical, folk and a bit of John Denver during long car trips.
His favourite TV shows include Monty Python’s Flying Circus “especially the quiz show between Marx, Ulyanov, Mao and Guevara” and The Chaser’s War on Everything and the profile assures us that Kevin has “three wonderful kids.”
It’s a motherlode of insight into personal Kev and I was hoping to write a piece about what Kevin’s taste in music, TV and children tells us about the way he will run the country.
When I called Kevin’s electoral office the Facebook-generation staffer said he too had seen the profile (I didn’t ask whether he was one of Kevin’s “friends”) and was also wondering the same thing. Disappointingly, Rudd’s Canberra media unit ultimately assured me that “it’s not us”.
So what, if anything is at stake? Any savvy band, artist, fashion label, boutique retailer or religious zealot will tell you it’s one of the easiest and most cost effective ways to reach the kids.
As of yesterday morning Kevin Rudd on Facebook had over 1,600 friends and growing fast – up 200 from the previous night. Facebook has over 125,000 signed-up members of their “Australia” network – and many times more using the site. The younger-skewing and more anarchic MySpace would be many times larger still.
The News Limited-owned MySpace plans to launch their political section MySpace Impact in Australia later this year and the Rudd team have said they will be part of it. Until then, anyone can have a go it seems and folks like C0nn0r who enthusiastically wrote “yeah ruddy.. hope you f-ck sh-t up next election buddy” on the Kevin Rudd MySpace site are doing it themselves.