Communications in the age of digital elections

Recent elections in the US and the UK have yielded more questions than answers about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to messages and tactics designed to persuade audiences. Targeted political adverts, unofficial memes, psychographic profiling and giant datasets will all be in play during upcoming elections on both sides of the pond with tech platforms increasingly providing the battlefield for mass communications combat.

Over the last two years I’ve been exploring how technology will affect politics in the near-future through my podcast Government Vs The Robots. In that time I’ve spotted five shifts in the information ecosystem which demand a response from people interested in communicating ideas and values. The current UK election and the democratic primaries will provide a chance to scrutinise what the best political campaigners in the business think is the right way to win hearts and minds in the age of the algorithm. So what should we be looking for?


Is the map of the Middle East about to change?

If people in the Middle East could democratically choose what country they lived in, would they choose the one they are in now?

Amidst all the talk of an Arab Spring, the fragility of the Arab state is often forgotten.

Whereas developed countries are almost always the product of an organic, internally driven process, in the Middle East’s case, the countries are mostly the product of a British-French agreement made in 1916 (Sykes-Picot) that paid little attention to local sociopolitical realities. As a result, few possess the historical roots, social cohesion, and legitimacy necessary to nurture the complex institutions that are a prerequisite for development and democracy. On the contrary, most suffer from both sectarian divisions and weak government—the causes of state fragility. (more…)