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A Seat at the Table

- July 18, 2008 - 0 Comments

About nine months ago, I submitted my paperwork for US citizenship. Coincidentally, my final interview was on July 2nd, just two days before Independence Day (and one day from Canada Day, the holiday I’m used to celebrating). At the outset, my objective was to take a place at the table of what even then was shaping up to be a watershed event in US political history – the 2008 election. So what does all this have to do with the network, my usual area of focus? Well, as I’ve watched the primaries and the transition to the general election, I’ve been fascinated by the role the network has played. In fact, it is clearly changing the way people receive and interact with their news. Any major news outlet has a website, often with blogs attached. News hounds have an expectation of immediate gratification from wherever they are. And if that’s not enough, they publish their own. The morning paper has become old news. Yes, the power of the network provides us with the ability to connect, and to immediately share experiences with individuals across the globe (as I’ve mentioned in a previous post). At the same time, though, it facilitates gravitation to those with the same points of view. The net effect may be that our own viewpoints are re-enforced by those sharing the same beliefs, pushing us further into a single camp and making our respective worlds much smaller, an endgame covered by Peter Boyer’s article a few weeks ago,”One Angry Man,” in The New Yorker. On the other hand, it is also giving us a more immediate and impactful voice. Witness the expedient online protesting by many of Barack Obama’s supporters when he decided to endorse legislation supported by President Bush regarding the government’s domestic spying powers. A July 2 article in The New York Times reported,”-more than 7,000 Obama supporters have organized on a social networking site on Mr. Obama’s own campaign Web site. They are calling on Mr. Obama to reverse his decision-“As we enjoy the season of party conventions and BBQs, of pundits sounding off, time away from the office and time to think, it is our duty to not only relate to those in our comfort zone, but to widen our horizons. Using the Internet, we can and should reach out to those with differing points of view; with different outlooks on the war in Iraq, the economy, and the environment. Only then will we be truly informed, having earned a place at the table. Think about how you can earn your place at the table come November.

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