My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, Ottawa Citizen version, homepage version) assess the use of the Internet in the last election. Business increasingly recognizes the need for an Internet strategy that engages current and prospective customers. In the just-concluded national election, many analysts anticipated an "Internet election" with sophisticated websites, active blogging, YouTube videos, Facebook groups, and rapid-fire Twitter postings.
While the public and activist groups used the Internet to promote their candidates (partisan bloggers for each party provided a near-continuous echo chamber of commentary), issues (the Culture in Peril YouTube video had a marked impact the Quebec electorate) or to encourage strategic voting patterns (Voteforenvironment.ca received considerable attention), the political parties themselves seemed stuck with Web 1.0 strategies in a Web 2. 0 world. Each party had the requisite websites, yet their most innovative initiatives – the Conservatives' Notaleader.ca and the Liberals' Scandalpedia.ca to name two – were quickly dismissed as juvenile sites that did more harm than good (the New Democrats' Orange Room is a notable exception).
With months of advance preparation, why did the parties perform so poorly?