Politics as a profession, 2010

The – fictional – working day of a young politician outlines numerous elements that have ensured the digitalization of political communication and the emergence of the new field of politics in the past two years "Net policy" have ensured

The day for Stefanie K. begins early, already around 6.30 o’clock, the offspring makes itself felt: Diapering, dressing and preparing porridge are the most important tasks at dawn. Well, if you’re already awake, you can also check the first mails and tweets on your smartphone. The colleague M. is attending the convention of a friendly party in the U.S. to learn about the latest achievements in political campaigning, his impressions and real-time news have been in his inbox for a couple of hours.

"These devices are actually getting smarter and smarter, the web is everywhere and not just at the desk as it used to be", thinks K. And of course, so is the daily work routine. The flow of news has become permanent. It’s no longer just the electronic mail scattered throughout the day that perforates the diary, but also the real-time communication via short message services such as Twitter or in social networks such as Facebook, MySpace or Who-knows-who that pummels users as digital constant fire.

The 140-character Twitter service in particular has accelerated the pace of online communication. with who or what they are particularly concerned about at the moment. Today may be the junior’s early rise, or had she already tweeted that twice last week ..? Well, your followers will complain if it becomes too private. Since the last election campaign, a few thousand people are interested in her tweets, as the short messages are called in the sometimes somewhat strange jargon. Sometimes there are reactions to her short messages, not so seldom to the more private information.

Politics as a profession, 2010

Excerpt from the book by Christoph Bieber: politik digital. Online to the Wahler. Blumenkamp Publishing House, 2010. 130 pages, € 15,-

The book "politics digital. Online to the Wahler" takes stock of developments in the political section of the Internet since the 2008 U.S. presidential election. On the "Obama effect" followed the German super election year with the censorship campaign and the rise of the Pirate Party. Social networks and real-time communication have since become an integral part of political communication – but are they really forming a new political class?? One thing is certain: the effects are not only felt online: in view of declining membership and increasing electoral dullness, the future development paths of the parties come into view, as do questions about a media-supported modernization of voting.

But of course K. also from everyday parliamentary life. Just the other day she tweeted directly from a meeting of the Enquête Commission "Internet and Digital Society", of which she is a member. Quite a few members of parliament have their difficulties with the new forms of communication, which is of course of burning interest to their Twitter audience. Was that an outcry when the colleague from the neighboring party recently read his speech in the Bundestag from an iPad, although the use of notebooks during plenary sessions is actually prohibited?. If such information from the meetings is exciting enough, some followers retweet the texts, which means that even more people learn about the commission’s work and the politician’s online reputation increases.

Due to the ongoing acceleration and differentiation of Internet communication, K. no longer only online during morning coffee, but also on the drive to the office. Because the files for the afternoon meeting of the parliamentary group are already read, K. still look at their Facebook wall – another venue on Web 2.0, which has become an indispensable part of everyday communication routines. On her profile page, K. can only provide the most important information about herself. This is basically the same information that has been on her personal website for years. But here, on the pages of the social network Facebook, which are only visible to members, the information on curriculum vitae, mandates and tasks in the party and parliament is supplemented with information from private life: Hobbies, favorite books and music, or interest in this TV series, which is not broadcast in Germany and must therefore be ordered on DVD in the original.

Even with her profile on Facebook, K. The number of their connections has attracted a great deal of attention "Friends" is not quite as high as on Twitter, but for that she has direct access to their profile pages. She knows that most of her contacts have the same political views as she does – information that she naturally entered in her profile. Sometimes K asks. her network for advice. Not necessarily to get help with a vote, but to get a rough assessment of a controversial ie or simply when she feels that she is not well enough informed in a particular area despite studying the files. The structure of relationships is tighter in this network than in the more volatile one "Twitterland". The same is true for the other networks where K. is present with a profile page.

The world of digital social networks is already quite fragmented, even in Germany, and even if the platforms basically function according to a very similar pattern, completely different people can be found there in each case. For a politician like K. be very useful: via the network Wer-kennt-wen.de, for example, maintains good contact with her constituency, because a particularly large number of users from the southwest register with WKW, where K. would like to defend their direct mandate in the next election. Colleague V. On the other hand, Lokalisten.The South German region is more strongly represented there.

Many schoolchildren and students reach K. and V. on the platforms of the VZ Group. Although some of their fans at SchuelerVZ.Although students are not yet allowed to vote, they have become an important target group if you don’t want to hand over potential young party members to the pirates. In addition, many students seamlessly switch to the neighboring network StudiVZ.de, where almost all German students have an account. This network in particular had tried to establish itself as a new campaign arena before the Bundestag election. "If only because the old media gratefully picks up on every new form of campaigning, you have to show up there", had K. said at the time and had to listen to some mockery from her party friends. After easily winning her constituency, and in the process garnering many more votes from young voters than was usual in her party, the chatter quickly died down – instead, a slew of colleagues wanted her online agency’s address.

Right – with Z. K. speak today too. The designs for the relaunch of the personal website, for which his agency has been responsible for a few years now, have not really appealed to her yet: "What did you do with my homepage? Previously: order – now: chaos. phone at 3 p.m? #Relaunch", types K. as a Twitter message into their smartphone. Read this can only Z., who receives these 102 characters as a direct message, for K.s other followers, the text remains invisible.

With Z. they are in close contact: Managing the various online presences has long become a full-time job that K. can no longer manage alone. Time and again, she has to explain to her friends, fans and followers that, despite (or precisely because of) her 16-hour offline day, she is dependent on support in her digital life, but that the media authenticity of her online persona does not suffer because of it.

Even Barack Obama, a shining example for the current generation of online politicians, had to take harsh criticism when he confessed in the year after his election that he had not yet tweeted himself. And even the wrangling over the security risks of the "First Blackberry", which permanently connects the president to the digital communication streams, scratched the image of the most successful online election campaigner to date. But Obama has been forgiven for such avowals – as long as the Weibe Haus pushes the digitization of government action in compensation.

Even if K. doesn’t really like her smartphone, she rarely does her correspondence at her desk anymore. Instead, the bulk of personal communication takes place on the road. Since wireless online access works everywhere in the parliament, it’s possible to quickly catch up on news or distribute tasks to staff on the way from the office to the plenum.

Networking the parliament building was a tricky business, recalls K. The building services department in particular had its concerns about whether this would not open the door to hackers and data thieves. It’s a good thing that colleague V. at the time had asked a few specialists from his Twitter network to test the protection mechanisms. In fact, there were still gaps, but the testers had good suggestions at the ready. Soon the network was secure and the internal resistance was broken. Perhaps the security concerns were just a pretext, and the real reason for the excitement was the technicians’ fear of no longer being needed themselves.

Many meetings no longer take place as expensive and time-consuming video conferences in the parliamentary group area of the Bundestag, but rather directly at the MP’s desk using the online telephony service Skype. K also receives from journalists. More and more requests for interviews to be conducted using the service’s video function. This is quick, less time-consuming and not as stressful as the short statements that K. in passing, when she is on her way to a committee meeting. This allows her to determine the time of the interview – and, if in doubt, to stop the interview at the push of a button.

K. is by no means always on; instead, she takes great care to balance online and offline phases in her workday. It wasn’t only in the wake of the slow media movement that K. occasionally prescribes a media diat. This afternoon, for example, she is meeting with her party’s net policy advisor. Of course, the ie again has something to do with the computerization of politics: The use of voting machines has come back into the discussion, as the ruling of the Federal Constitutional Court in March 2009 did not include a general ban on the use of electronic voting machines. And since the catastrophic turnout of 70.8 percent in the last federal election, many are thinking about how to get more people to the polls again. This is not K.s special topic, but due to her well-known preference for the Internet, she is regarded by her party comrades as a kind of expert on everything electronic.

The discussion will be followed by a lengthy trip to an off-site appointment. For the evening, K. agreed to participate in a public discussion on the topic of online election campaigning. It is good that she still has this field in mind from the last election campaign and does not have to prepare herself for it more roughly, because the files that she has to go through for tomorrow’s Burgersprechstunde are piling up in the company car. Just now K. with the text "On the way to G., from 8 p.m. Panel discussion on online election campaigning. seats in the car with plenty of reading material" inform their followers about the further course of the day, when they themselves receive a message. This time it comes from his own son, who seems to have had a good time at the daycare center. Of course, the offspring did not write it himself, but his 11-year-old brother, who does the digital typing for the little one.

The event in the evening passes comparatively calmly. The agency man connected via livestream, who complains fearfully about the disinterest of German politics for online ies, irritates K. not particularly. "Politics means the slow drilling of hard boards – whether they are wooden or digital", she shoots down the objections. The people in the hall liked that very much and apparently also the viewers of the live broadcast on the Internet, as K. from the many reactions on Twitter: For a brief moment, tweets mentioning her name and quoting the phrase pile up.

This kind of "virtual applause" are becoming more and more common lately, as many Internet users follow public events, TV talk shows or even plenary debates with direct online access and comment on what they see via Twitter, on Facebook or in their own weblogs. But the reactions are not always positive, and sometimes the online presence turns into a real boomerang. Colleague V. even had a "Follower shrinkage" when he had to make a fuss about his party’s new data protection guidelines. To the organizers of the panel, a hands-on seminar at the local university, K.s saying also liked, so that it is used as a starting point for a small interview. This short film is to be presented the very next day on the study program’s YouTube channel. The best way is to look at Z. this tomorrow again, maybe you can use it also for your own website. Or for the Facebook profile.