A senior Microsoft Australia executive today welcomed the Federal Government's new blogging initiative but warned such efforts in the past had generally not achieved their aims.
"I remain a sceptic as to the capacity of political blogs to enhance knowledge and inform decision-making processes," responded Microsoft Australia and New Zealand's head of government and industry Simon Edwards, writing on one of his company's own local blogs.
"To date they have tended to be not much more than cliques of common interest and comfort that reaffirm partisan positions and denigrate alternative points of view."
The comments came in response to the launch yesterday by Communications and Finance Ministers Stephen Conroy and Lindsay Tanner of a new Digital Economy blog as the first in a series of online consultations designed to keep government departments in touch with the public through the internet. Conroy's department has also launched a YouTube channel.
Microsoft's Edwards said in general he welcomed the effort, however: "In my view the successful politicians of tomorrow will be those who learn to work with and through information networks — both to gain knowledge through information and to communicate with and align to those very same networks through an open process of information sharing."
"It is heartening," he continued, "to see the Federal Government stepping out of the traditional comfort zone to embrace matrix-informed communication and collaboration with citizens."
Edwards said it was likely in the short term that people already engaged in advocacy to government would engage with the blogging initiative, but long-term success would need to be judged on the extent to which others (not currently participating) started to use the online world to make their views known.
Microsoft itself maintains hundreds, if not thousands of blogs, written by staff in many different departments.
The Federal Government's move has come as, Edwards also pointed out, politicians across the globe are embracing the internet as a method of communication. Barack Obama's successful US Presidential run heavily utilised tools such as the web, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and more, while both Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull have done the same.