Changes are afoot... site archived

Posted on Wed, Feb 18, 2009 at 4:24 PM by Andrew Chadwick

Hello: just a quick note to say that changes are afoot.

As of today (February 18, 2009), I've archived the Internet Politics book site and blog and I've started work on a new, more flexible site at

Though I won't be updating it from now on, the Internet Politics site will remain intact at its own subsite: The data spreadsheets and all of the original blog posts remain.

Internet Politics (US version) (UK version here) is of course still very much alive and widely available. It continues to gain a wide readership; much wider than I ever expected. Many thanks for your support.

My new main site will feature a new tumblelog which, just like this one, will cover all manner of topics related to the internet and politics. So if you've been following this site, the new one will seem very familiar, but it will be updated more frequently! It will have subsections that will enable me to mention other projects - articles, talks, and future books, as well as links out to other publications such as The Handbook of Internet Politics that I recently co-edited with Phil Howard.

Visit the new site at

And don't forget the New Political Communication Unit and my Department page at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Bye for now.


Edited on: Thu, Feb 19, 2009 9:30 AM

New article: The 2008 Digital Campaign in the United States: The Real Lesson for British Parties

Posted on Fri, Sep 19, 2008 at 12:00 PM by Andrew Chadwick

Nick Anstead and I have just published an article "The 2008 Digital Campaign in the United States: The Real Lesson for British Parties" in a special double issue of the journal Renewal. The issue is timed to coincide with the UK Labour Party's annual conference, which takes place next week. It contains a range of interesting papers.

Here's an excerpt from our conclusion, followed by the editors' description of the volume.

"Our analysis leads to an important conclusion for British politicians seeking to harness the power of the internet.
While it is certainly the case that British parties and candidates can learn something from the United States, precisely how they should measure their success in so doing is far from straightforward. The challenge is as much one of institutional design as it is about the adoption of the latest technology: how do we reform British politics to set free the full democratic potential of the internet? This is a long term project, but it could lead to huge rewards. Many of the issues identified in this article as significant are now frequently debated in the UK: democratising party organisations, forging links between parties and broader citizen campaigns, reforming campaign finance laws, and entrenching a culture of constitutional pluralism, to name but a few. It is now imperative that the relationship between political institutions and technology is considered in these debates.
The real lesson of Obama 2008 is that British parties need to approach this issue from two complementary perspectives. They should design their online campaigns so that they mesh with the aspects of their organisational structures and Britain’s electoral environment that they value and wish to maintain. But they should consider simultaneously how they might democratise their organisational structures and the electoral environment in ways likely to catalyse internet-enabled civic engagement."

RENEWAL Vol 16 No 3/4

A special double issue for autumn 2008 offers essential reading on the present economic, political, environmental, social, and ideological crisis. And it points to the new ideas, initiatives and alliances that could contain the right's revival and renew progressive politics.

With contributions from ADAM LENT on the excesses of the City and the crisis of civility ... MATTHEW WATSON on Gordon Brown's choice of intellectual hero... GRAHAM TURNER on the credit crunch as the consequence of unequal globalisation ... JOHN HOUGHTON on the failure of the market to deliver affordable and sustainable housing ... WILL DAVIES on the limits of New Labour's expertise ... SUNDER KATWALA on the need for a new pluralism ... JON CRUDDAS on reclaiming aspiration ... ANDREW SIMMS on the prospects for a green New Deal ... ROBIN WILSON on social democratic solutions to today's global challenges ... DAVID LAMMY on what we can learn from the US elections ... NICK ANSTEAD AND ANDREW CHADWICK on online campaigning ... DEBORAH LITTMAN on building grassroots movements ... KARMA NABULSI on mobilising to reanimate political institutions ...


a major essay by STUART WHITE on the economic thought of Andrew Glyn...

Notebook: LEN DUVALL on Tory London; and GIDEON RACHMAN on McCain vs Obama...

...and reviews by COLIN CROUCH on 'bad capitalism'; PAUL SEGAL on the causes of global poverty; and BEN JACKSON on the return of American liberalism

RENEWAL 16.3/4 is being sent out to subscribers now and can be ordered online from





Political Communication Preconference and main APSA conference in Boston

Posted on Fri, Aug 22, 2008 at 6:56 PM by Andrew Chadwick

Just a quick note to say that I'll be at the APSA conference in Boston next week. Nick Anstead and I are presenting our paper 'Parties, Election Campaigning and the Internet: Toward a Comparative Institutional Approach' (a chapter from the newly published Handbook of Internet Politics edited by Phil Howard and I) to the American Political Science Association Political Communication Section Annual Preconference, held at the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, on August 27.

I'm the discussant for Panel 38-15: Political Communication Online at the main APSA Conference in Boston. Full details here.

Hope to see you there.

Call For Papers: YouTube and the 2008 Election Cycle in the United States

Posted on Mon, Jul 14, 2008 at 11:44 PM by Andrew Chadwick

I'd like to bring to your attention what promises to be an excellent - and much needed - event. Stuart Shulman and Michael Xenos are the organizers (I'm on the program committee).

YouTube and the 2008 Election Cycle in the United States

April 3 & 4, 2009 - Amherst, Massachusetts

A two-day conference jointly hosted by:

* The University of Massachusetts Amherst Department of Political Science

* The Science, Technology, and Society Initiative (STS) at the University of Massachusetts Amherst

* The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

* The Journal of Information Technology & Politics (JITP)

* The Qualitative Data Analysis Program (QDAP)

Keynote Speakers

Richard Rogers, Professor in New Media & Digital Culture at the University of Amsterdam and Director of

Noshir Contractor, Northwestern University, the Jane S. & William J. White Professor of Behavioral Sciences in the School of Engineering, School of Communication and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, USA.


The Program Committee encourages disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches rooted in political science, media studies, and communication scholarship. The JITP Editor strongly endorses new and experimental approaches involving collaboration with information and computer science scholars. Potential topics might include, but are not limited to:

- citizen initiated campaign videos,

- candidates' use of YouTube,

- bloggers use of YouTube to influence the primaries or election,

- the impact of YouTube on traditional or new media coverage of the election cycle,

- the effect of YouTube on citizen interest, knowledge, engagement, or voting behavior,

- social network analysis of YouTube and related election-oriented sites,

- political theory or communication theory and YouTube in the context of the 2008 election,

- new metrics that support the study of the "YouTube Effect" on elections,

- archives for saving and tools for mapping the full landscape of YouTube election content,

- use of YouTube in the classroom as a way to teach American electoral politics, or

- reviews of existing scholarship about YouTube.

Paper Submissions

Authors are invited to prepare and submit to JITP a manuscript following one of the six submission formats by January 7, 2009. These formats include research papers, policy viewpoints, workbench notes, review essays, book reviews, and papers on teaching innovation. The goal is to produce a special issue, or double issue, of JITP with a wide variety of approaches to the broad theme of "YouTube and the 2008 Election Cycle in the United States."

How to Submit

Everything you need to know about how to prepare and submit a strong JITP paper via the JITP web site is documented at Papers will be put through an expedited blind peer review process by the Program Committee and authors will be notified about a decision by February 15, 2009. A small number of papers will be accepted for presentation at the conference. Other paper authors will be invited to present a poster during the Friday evening reception. All posters must include a "YouTube" version of their research findings.

Best Paper and Poster Cash Prizes

The author (or authors) of the best research paper will receive a single $1,000 prize. The creator (or creators) of the best YouTube poster/research presentation will also receive a single prize of $1,000.

Conference Co-Chairs

Stuart Shulman, University of Pittsburgh

Michael Xenos, Louisiana State University

Program Committee

Sam Abrams, Harvard University

Micah Altman, Harvard University

Karine Barzilai-Nahon, University of Washington

Lance Bennett, University of Washington

Ryan Biava, University of Wisconsin

Bob Boynton, University of Iowa

Tom Carlson, Åbo Akademi University

Andrew Chadwick, Royal Holloway, University of London

Greg Elmer, Ryerson University

Kirsten Foot, University of Washington

Jane Fountain, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Jeff Guliati, Bentley College

Mike Hais, Co-author, Millennial Makeover: MySpace, YouTube and the Future of American Politics

Matthew Hale, Seton Hall University

Justin Holmes, University of Minnesota

Helen Margetts, Oxford Internet Institute

Mike Margolis, University of Cincinnati

Andrew McCallum, University of Massachusetts Amherst

John McNutt, University of Delaware

Andrew Philpot, University of Southern California-Information Sciences Institute

Antoinette Pole, Montclair State University

Stephen Purpura, Cornell University

Lee Rainie, Pew Internet & American Life Project

Jeffrey Seifert, Congressional Research Service

Mack Shelley, Iowa State University

Charlie Schweik, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Chirag Shah, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

John Wilkerson, University of Washington

Christine Williams, Bentley College

Morley Winograd, University of Southern California

Quan Zhou, University of Wisconsin-Stout

Notes from the YouGovStone/FT Ask the Experts event on the US election

Posted on Fri, May 16, 2008 at 3:45 PM by Andrew Chadwick

Digital Politics: Effects of the Information Age on the 2008 U.S. Election and Beyond, US Embassy May 15, 2008


* Phil Noble (US) Noble & Associates, Washington DC, Founder – PoliticsOnline
* Dr Andrew Chadwick (UK), Head, Department of Politics and International Relations and Director, New Political Communication Unit, Royal Holloway, University of London
* Joanna Shields (US) International President, Bebo
* Jimmy Leach (UK) Director of Digital Communications, Freud Communications and former Head of Digital Communications for the Prime Minister’s Office

Last night I was one of the panellists at this event. It was a lively and interesting debate, with a good range of perspectives and lots of opportunities for audience members to ask questions. Gideon Rachman from the FT was a superb chair, even managing to squeeze in several email questions along the way. You can also view the webcast here. Carole Stone of YouGovStone and the staff at the US Embassy made us feel very welcome while we waited in the Benjamin Franklin room and during the drinks reception that followed.

First up was Phil Noble, now something of an internet campaign veteran. Phil spoke enthusiastically about the Obama campaign and of how the metrics of success for judging campaigns were now evolving. There were some remarkable statistics about Obama’s online fundraising – currently around the quarter of a million dollar mark.

I followed Phil. My talk - The 2008 Digital Campaign: What's New and Why Things Will (Almost) Always Be Different in the UK - was divided between making four basic points about the current campaign before providing a brief snapshot of mine and Nick Anstead’s research on the interplay between the internet and party institutions and electoral environment. The text of my speech is included below this summary.

Joanna Shields, International President of Bebo, one of the biggest social networking sites and soon to be acquired by AOL, came next, with an interesting perspective on the activities of young people away from the formal politics of voting.

Finally, Jimmy Leach brought us all down to earth with a dose of scepticism, not to mention humour, about politicians’ abilities to adapt to the new communication environment. For example, will the openness of the network campaign continue when a candidate enters office? Not likely, Jimmy suggested.


Gideon Rachman’s blog entry at the FT.

YouGovStone site.


Here’s what I said…

The 2008 Digital Campaign: What's New, and Why Things Will (Almost) Always Be Different in the UK

First, I want to highlight four big themes in online campaigning that we’ve seen - so far - in the 2008 electoral cycle in the United States.

Second, as a political scientist, I’ll briefly consider a major puzzle: why has the internet had a greater impact on parties and election campaigning in the United States than it has in the UK?

So, what’s new and interesting in the 2008 US electoral cycle?

First : it seems to me that the internet is coming of age as a platform for political discourse. It has moved from the model of static pages toward a means of enabling a wide range of goals to be achieved through networked software services. Joanna Shields’ company, Bebo, is obviously a significant part of this general trend.

A second big theme of this election is collective intelligence in online campaigning. A distributed network of creators and contributors, the majority of them amateurs, can, using simple online tools, produce information goods that may better those produced by so-called authoritative sources. Though this is not entirely new - we saw this emerge with Howard Dean in 2004 - we now have a recognisable and proven campaigning model. It is based on online venues loosely meshed together through automated linking technologies, particularly blogs and social networking applications.

The internet now enables ongoing citizen vigilance on a grand scale. Political actors and media elites now inhabit an always-on environment in which it is impossible to escape the “little brother” surveillant gaze of citizen-reporters, from Twitter feeds to Flickr photostreams of marches and demonstrations ignored by mainstream media, to video bloggers and their YouTube uploads. One good example here is Mayhill Fowler, the citizen journalist who first published Barack Obama’s now infamous ‘Bittergate’ remarks a few weeks ago.

A third big theme is that online video is now much more important than it was. YouTube has made a sizeable dent in earlier predictions of the emergence of the slick televisual online campaign, able only to be resourced by wealthy politicians. YouTube video conversations are often effective precisely because they don’t depend upon professional media production techniques.

And what are people watching on YouTube? Well, alongside the countless videos of people using Mentos candy to explode bottles of diet Coke, we find citizens watching unedited 37-minute long political speeches! Consider Obama’s ‘More Perfect Union’ speech delivered in Philadelphia a couple of months ago. By last week, almost 5.5 million people had watched that speech in its entirety. We know this because YouTube does not count partial viewings. [Update: August 21, 2008: whether it does in fact only count complete viewings is uncertain. See here.] Micah Sifry of the Techpresident blog, who we had as a speaker at a recent conference on the politics of web 2.0 at Royal Holloway, has spoken of this as a shift from the sound bite to the sound blast.

My fourth and final big theme is that data are now everything. Those who can successfully mine, refine and subsequently protect it are more likely to emerge as dominant. But the interesting thing is that most of these data have been created by the labor of volunteers and they may simply be the by-products of countless distributed and coincidental interactions. Election campaigns in the United States are now characterized by obsessive and continuous recalibration in response to instant online polls, fundraising drives, comments lists on YouTube video pages, and blog posts. But the key point is that informational value emerges from a combination of distributed user generated content and its centralized exploitation. It blends the campaign war room with the campaign network.

So, briefly, to an interesting puzzle: Why has the internet had a greater impact on parties and election campaigning in the United States than it has in the United Kingdom?

This is a quick snapshot of a forthcoming research paper that I’ve co-authored with my colleague, Nick Anstead.

To answer this question we need to understand how the internet interacts with political institutions - in particular, the organization of political parties and the norms and rules of the electoral environment. These vary greatly across political systems.

So we need to ask: what kinds of institutional features are more likely to have affinities with the technological characteristics of internet communication? A comparative approach allows us to hypothesize what may, or may not, gain traction in different political systems.

We hypothesize that different types of party organization and electoral environment have the potential to catalyze or to retard the development of internet campaigning. This is so because these institutions make new communication technologies more or less useful to candidates and parties.

When looked at comparatively, American parties and campaigns are unusual political institutions - quite different from those found in most European liberal democracies.

Consider two aspects of this:

The US is a much more pluralistic political system than the UK. It is federal, it has a strong separation of powers, and parties are comparatively weak and they are not nationally integrated. The UK is, despite devolution, a unitary system, has a very weak separation of powers, and parties and comparatively strong, integrated and hierarchical.

The pluralistic environment in the United States makes it necessary to build campaign networks composed of horizontal and vertical connections that mesh with the fundamentally fluid basis of the system.

Compare this with the UK, where the lines of communication are more vertically oriented, more firmly drawn and are based in long established formal structures with accompanying bureaucracies. The internet's suitability for creating loose horizontal networks has fewer affinities with this set of arrangements.

Second, the mechanisms for candidate recruitment and selection are also radically different in the two countries.

In the US, primaries and caucuses offer an institutional framework for sanctioned dissent. In the UK, the environment for candidate selection is much less open and fluid, and more nationally-oriented.

The long timescale and the uncertainty of the primaries encourages ‘outsiders’ and forces all candidates to continually build coalitions of support.

When the context is fluid, the risks are high, but the costs of organizational innovation are low, candidates are more likely to experiment online

In the UK, there are (literally) no, or very, very few, ‘outsider’ candidates, the selection process is internal to parties, to a fixed timetable and it’s nationally-uniform.

So in the UK, there is less need to use the internet for lowering costs and reducing uncertainty and risk by spreading a campaign across a wide range of networks.

There are other important differences between the two systems, such as the broader media environment and the rules governing campaign finance. If you want more detail on this argument, do feel free to download the paper at our website at Royal Holloway.

By way of a conclusion, I’d like to remind you that the subtitle of my talk was Why Things Will (Almost) Always Be Different in the UK.

Things may be changing as we speak, mainly because the eroding permanent membership base of British parties may actually be incentivizing them to seek alternative models to mobilize support. Watch this space!

[Crossposted from the New Political Communication Unit group blog]

Edited on: Thu, Aug 21, 2008 5:43 PM

Politics: Web 2.0 Conference April 17-18 - final programme published

Posted on Tue, Apr 15, 2008 at 6:03 PM by Andrew Chadwick

I'd just like to bring to the attention readers of the Internet Politics blog the final programme of the Politics: Web 2.0 conference I'm organising at Royal Holloway. We started planning for this back in September. The call for papers far exceeded our expectations and it's probably going to be one of the largest academic conferences on the internet and politics to date.

The conference will feature six distinguished keynotes, 120 papers organised into 41 panels, and over 180 participants drawn from over 30 countries. The keynote speakers are:

Robin Mansell, Professor of New Media, LSE: "The Light and the Dark Sides of Web 2.0."

Helen Margetts, Professor of Internet and Society, University of Oxford: "Digital-era Governance: Peer production, Co-creation and the Future of Government."

Rachel Gibson, Professor of Political Science, University of Manchester: "Trickle-up Politics?: the Impact of Web 2.0 Technologies on Citizen Participation."

Stephen Coleman, Professor of Political Communication, University of Leeds: "Networks and Commons: Can The Popular and The Political Be Connected?"

Micah Sifry, Personal Democracy Forum/TechPresident: "The Revolution Will Be Networked: How Open Source Politics is Emerging in America."

Michael Turk, US National Cable & Telecommunications Association and e-campaign manager for Bush-Cheney 04: "Managed Chaos: Bringing Order to User-Generated Activism."

Quite a few papers have been uploaded already, and I expect to see several more on the site by the end of tomorrow.

Lawrence Ampofo, a PhD student, will be liveblogging the event. There's also a Facebook Event Page where you may see the odd video or photo.

For more information, see the relevant section of the New Political Communication Unit site.

If you'd like a quick take on what web 2.0 means for politics, there's an excerpt from the introduction to the Handbook of Internet Politics (Routledge, July 2008), by Phil Howard and I.

I also have an article coming out toward the end of this year in I/S: The Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society. The article is entitled: "Web 2.0: New Challenges for the Study of E-Democracy in an Era of Informational Exuberance."


Posted on Mon, Apr 07, 2008 at 12:57 PM by Andrew Chadwick

WikiCandidate is a fascinating experiment in user-generated content focused on a very specific exercise: the creation of a virtual campaign for a fictional presidential candidate.

Run by a team of students led by Professor Tarleton Gillespie of the Department of Communication at Cornell, the site aims to enable you, the plain old regular internet user, to:

"create a "perfect" presidential candidate unfettered by a checkered past or foot-in-mouth syndrome. The only stipulation is that the candidate you build must be agreed upon by the other participants on the site. To reach an agreement, you may need to promote your opinions and positions on various issues, or compromise with other users on some points to gain support for the candidate."

The project has only just begun and things are likely to heat up soon. The most interesting pages to date are those set aside for "Issues." These contain entries on affordable local food, education reform, healthcare, and so on. There is also a section labelled "Coalitions" as well as a Donate button (not for cash donations, but for "donating" survey answers when the team conduct analysis of the experiment later on).

The site is based on a hybrid blog and wiki platform, the aim being to get some discussion going about the candidate's policies and character.

This is an interesting project - a nice mix of ideas about sociotechnical design and civic engagement. The WikiCandidate experiment will be the subject of a panel at next week's Politics: Web 2.0 Conference at Royal Holloway, University of London, organised by the New Political Communication Unit. The final conference programme is now published.


New UN data access site

Posted on Sat, Apr 05, 2008 at 12:32 PM by Andrew Chadwick

The UN has unveiled its new data access system and it is pretty slick and powerful. It allows for intuitive keywords searches followed by refinement of the results. Downloads in various formats are available.

This is a quick and easy way to access data on communications and information technology indicators. If you're so inclined, you can play with some figures and update some of the data I used in chapter 3.

ITU data.

Goodbye Link Roundup, Hello Furl Feedroll

Posted on Fri, Feb 29, 2008 at 2:44 PM by Andrew Chadwick

It's been a while since I posted one of my supposedly fortnightly link roundups. Aside from the fact that Christopher Boerl, a PhD student, has pointed out that the word 'fortnightly' does not travel well outside the UK, it was cumbersome to do and that meant I didn't do it.

So, from now on there'll be a single page containing my last 50 Furl items, fed by RSS from the superb Feeddigest. We've created a similar one for the New Political Communication Unit site. That's a composite collection but this one will be just my links. Hope you find it useful. Here it is...

Theorising the politics of web 2.0: an excerpt from the forthcoming Introduction to the Handbook of Internet Politics by Andrew Chadwick and Philip N. Howard

Posted on Thu, Feb 21, 2008 at 12:02 PM by Andrew Chadwick

As part of writing the Introduction to the forthcoming Handbook of Internet Politics, Phil Howard and I wanted to try a basic 'first take' on what web 2.0 might mean for politics. We sought to briefly define it and to tease out its broader implications for political behaviour in a way that stays close to its technological characteristics without reducing it to those characteristics. We took as our point of departure Tim O'Reilly's influential approach. No surprises there, but we were intrigued by how readily O'Reilly's technology-centric themes could feed into broader conceptual ideas and examples of value to social scientists. Here's what we came up with - posted on the New Political Communication Unit blog. We hope you find it useful, and, dare we say it, that you might like to add your comments...

[Note: This is a pre-publication excerpt from Andrew Chadwick and Philip N. Howard 'Introduction: New Directions in Internet Politics Research' in Andrew Chadwick and Philip N. Howard (eds) (2008, in press) The Handbook of Internet Politics. New York and London: Routledge. You can read the book's table of contents at Routledge's site]