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Annotated Manifestos
Jamais Cascio, 22 Apr 05

tw2be.jpgSomewhere between the one-way relationship of modern political conventions (where party platforms are on display, but never debated) and the collaboration-über-alles philosophy of party platform wikis (where altering the language of the platform is as easy as... well, as easy as wikis ever really are) lies TheyWantToBeElected.com. TW2BE is an experimental website designed by Mark Simpkins, Richard Pope and Gavin Bell, allowing visitors to annotate the platform statements of each of the three major UK parties. Using standard blogging software, TW2BE inserts comment links for each platform sub-section; as a result, the reader can go through the platform statements without interruption initially, then go back and see how others have reacted.

The verdict? "Wonderful potential, needs work."

TW2BE explicitly calls itself a "beta test," and it's clearly an idea in evolution. The idea of annotating the platforms can be a good one, as both critical comments (as most on TW2BE currently are) and supportive evidence can be posted. At worst, it will be another online shouting match; ideally, it will be an opportunity to explore how well different parties state their cases.

While the comment system allows for extended discussions for each point, I'm not sure that a blogging app is really the best mechanism. The content is static, but the comments change frequently -- but the comments are hidden by text links. Nonetheless, Mark Simpkins calls it "another step in opening up the whole democratic and participatory process." It's a work in progress, to be sure, but one with definite potential.

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