I spent a few hours today at a seminar about left wing blogging in Sweden in Eskilstuna, a medium sized town 90 minutes south west of Stockholm. I was invited there by Fredrik Pettersson, one of my web clients. My presentation from the seminar is here, but this blog entry is inspired by the comments of Johan Ulvenlöv – the guy behind [s-buzz] and Netroots Sweden.
For me the main lesson today is that the Swedish Social Democrats (Socialdemokraterna) and, to an extent the Greens (Miljöpartiet) and Left (Vänsterpartiet) are starting to develop their own concept of online organising and online agenda setting. This is best manifested in the forthcoming Netroots Sweden book dedicated to the theme, and this neat map of the Swedish political blogosphere.
The reflections in the room were – in as far as I can understand the Swedish – about developing online activism per se, but importantly using the network of 600+ Netroots bloggers in more than 100 cities across Sweden to deliver concrete results.
There’s plenty of activity on the left online in the UK – through Left Foot Forward, Labour List, Liberal Conspiracy, Next Left, and on Twitter. But how does that fit into the vision of the Labour Party in the future? The UK seems to be at a stage where the online (party-)political discourse still reflects the offline and mainstream media discourse and follows and amplifies that. Then the real innovation is in government services on the web – much of it starting from MySociety for example, while web politics still remains under developed in the UK.
Johan, in conversations after his presentation, was keen to emphasise that the technology is just a tiny part of what the two staff in Socialdemokraterna party HQ are doing when it comes to blogger outreach – the vast majority is networking people, getting them to meet, and building solidarity and trust between them offline as well as online. Why, he asked, were there no Brits at Netroots Nation in the USA? Events like Sunny’s Blog Nation 2010 are a start, but inspired by today trying to further build and train blog networks on the left in the UK is for sure one of the things I’ll be devoting time to from the autumn when I’m back in London.
In addition to what I said earlier about checking the Pirate Party, you might find this German study interesting:
If you want to think about ways forward for online political communication, you might want to take a closer look at the Pirate Party (Piratpartiet), which seems to be a network where offline politics complement online activities rather than the other way around.
You could have smiled.
I don’t look as negative as the chap at the back in the stripes!