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Multimedia and radical organising

by Dave Riley

In a new initiative for a political party in Australia, the Socialist Alliance is using the web to open up the organisation of its federal election campaign. Mainstream parties have generated a lot of media attention with their self-promotion on YouTube, MySpace and Facebook, but the alliance is enabling open access to the way its campaign is run.

The online Socialist Alliance election campaign forums have been launched as a user-friendly way to engage with the many activities that are part of election campaigning. Rather than restrict the discussions to various “private” committee meetings, the forums are designed to share ideas and encourage involvement from people who may or may not be alliance members and regardless of where they are located in Australia.

From its formation six years ago, the Socialist Alliance has been committed to the principles of access and transparency. Because the alliance has made extensive use of the web, major debates and decision-making processes have been public by default. The election campaign forums are an extension of that commitment and follow the recent experimentation with using wikis to create and edit alliance policy.

Wikis are open, online collaborative tools that allow people to contribute to and edit online documents. The famous online encyclopaedia — Wikipedia — is a wiki and, like the alliance policy wikis, anyone can edit the text it contains. The Socialist Alliance’s new climate change charter was produced through an open wiki process.

The election campaign forums are more of an outreach tool. They allow participants to find out the latest news, share ideas and proposals with alliance members and supporters, access campaign materials and link up with local campaigns.

While anyone can visit the forums to check these out, you need to register before you can contribute. As more alliance members and supporters sign on to the forums, the range of topics addressed will become broader. This is primarily an exercise in sharing ideas and information within an online community — a community that can, very easily, include you.

The forums are part of a broader web presence the alliance is creating. With new locality and campaign blogs to be launched soon, the Socialist Alliance has been experimenting with multimedia and now has its own YouTube channel.

You can also listen to Socialist Alliance Radio online, which is beginning to broadcast interviews with and talks by alliance election candidates. In the same mix, Socialist Alliance members who are performers and musicians have created the audio channel, RadioActive, a political hip-hop project to support the alliance’s election campaign.

So, if you want to help build the Socialist Alliance 2007 election campaign — or you just want to find out more about us and keep up with what’s happening — sign up to the forums at http://socialistalliance.freeforums.org.

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