Hear my mighty opinion and tremble

So I’m established now. 

I have an opinion and a blog and I am willing to wield my power to bend others to my will.  I’m of the young, beautiful 18-35 year old people drawing the envy of hundreds with my wit and invincible powers of deduction.  I shalt smite mine enemies with my sword of twitter and mine facebookian shield! 

Or I made an observation a week ago that one person’s words didn’t match his actions and I don’t feel comfortable with his thinking.  But I said it.  Out loud.  

I’ll run with the population of Calgary being roughly 1.1 million people.  I’ve had a readership this week of approximately 1000 people.  I’m sure many of you have come back at least once.  That’s a humbling number. 

Social media is not going to put the winning candidate over the top in this election.  Not one person has posted a message that promised me their vote on the strength of what I’ve written.  There have been no “draft Mark Zaugg” campaigns with picketers lining my route to work every morning.  So, at least you’re all sane. 

Twitter and Facebook are ways of getting word out, of interacting, of organizing, of informing.  We will gestate our ideas in our blogs and in our discussions and weed out bad ideas and discuss our goals and aspirations.  At least for the 2010 civic election in Calgary, it is our crucible and not the battleground.

Why are some candidates using autodialers?  Because they still work - to a degree.  They’ll annoy the bejeebers out of me, but I’m not the person being targetted.  There’s a lot more people not using social media than there are active bloggers sharing an opinion.  Whoever wins this election is going to have to reach as many people as possible and get out the vote - just like every other election.

My opinion is worth precisely one vote.  No more, no less.  But how priceless would it be to hear someone at a forum ask the question, “Can you be a conciliatory mayor?“  I crystallized my views here in my blog, and after I expressed them I found many others feeling the same way.  That clarified my thoughts of what I which attributes I insist upon from my mayor, and the cycle repeats itself.  It is in the conversation that the value of social media is obtained.

@Zarquil Problem is, very few people are discuss muni election to that level and will vote for whoever gives them virtual pork or bj. @Zarquil thats just the cynic in me talking, but I like to call it the realist. City will remain broken until either a revolution or exodus

He is totally correct.  Our levels of engagement are terrible in Calgary, but social media can (and I’ll predict will) be that very revolution.  I loved this article by Darren Krause in the Metro today about Chris Harper’s pledge to get 50% turnout in 2013.  To increase turnout, our voters will have to become engaged and active and social media must play a major role in that initiative.  It’s the best way to send a message of support very quickly and with minimal effort.  “@harperonside That’s a brilliant idea.  Giv’er!“  He knows where I stand and I don’t have to worry about my phone being busy when he speed dials me for my opinion.

Social media will not achieve revolution until the majority of people in Calgary understand twitter is for quick thoughts and sharing links, facebook is for organizing and energizing, and blogs are for reasoning and hammering clear one’s thoughts.  But those of us on the inside have the charge and responsibility for sharing those ideas.  We are constantly evolving how we communicate and share information.

Let me bring this around to my final point as I wrap up this week of blogging.  About a year ago I moved from Ward 4 to Ward 10.  Ward 4 looks like a very exciting and interesting race with Bob Hawkesworth moving on.  I’m not voting up there, but I still have a curious eye on the race.  I’m almost as interested in the aldermanic race as I am in the mayoral race.  There are interesting people with informative opinions and I’m forming my thoughts on people I can’t even vote for.

In Ward 10 I have Andre Chabot and Nargis Dossa.  Andre Chabot: Incumbent.  Nothing more than that.  Nargis Dossa: Blog (it’s empty) a Facebook page I can’t see (I don’t use Facebook) and a Twitter account (16 tweets?)  How come I’m more interested in Ward 4 than Ward 10?  There is absolutely no engagement whatsoever for me in Ward 10 at all.  I know that Jane Morgan is serious about running and I can argue for or against her at will.

So to make my decision, I have to figure out how to actually track down Chabot and learn what his platform is.  Thanks for making it easy.  At least I have his voting record - oh wait, we don’t have that publicly available.  We have a lot to improve.

Social media makes the race accessible.  It energizes the candidate and his or her team.  It engages citizens who are interested.  It creates discussion and hones ideas and will improve the platform for candidates who are interacting.  It has become part of campaigning.  It is door to door interaction - only faster.  It will not decide the election this round, but it will certainly have an influence from now forward.

My parting shot to wrap up this week is to give my thoughts on DJ Kelly’s column.  Over the summer I’ve seen Kent Hehr and Naheed Nenshi several times each.  I’ve run into Paul Hughes twice and Jon Lord once.  I wish I would have run into Barb Higgins, I would enjoy having a conversation with her.  Meeting Joe Connelly and Craig Burrows would have helped me out considerably.  And there is the infamous non-meeting with Ric McIver which completely changed my opinion of him.

I need to meet Andre Chabot and / or Nargis Dossa and sooner would be better than later.  As I see it, Ward 10 is wide open to a savvy candidate willing to engage the citizens.  DJ is soooo right.  Social media’s the best media they’re going to have soon, and neither of them seem to be good at it.