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Digital Democracy is the democracy of the future

by / 0 Comments / 12/10/2015

For a campaign to be effective we need to believe that people care, so what can be more useful than a video recording of how you really feel?

A new campaigning platform which allows individuals to express their true opinions and emotions directly through snappy three-second videos has been initiated by three London startups. The online campaign site aims to reinvent the way we capture public sentiment towards political and societal developments across the world and technologically revolutionise the effectiveness of online campaigns, petitions and surveys.

NowVoiceIt is the name of this tech-savvy venture which originated from a campaign within a change.org petition that encouraged British citizens to shelter Syrian refugees in their homes. However, whilst many who engaged with this campaign sympathised with the plight of the Syrian refugees, there appeared to be divisions over whether individuals would actually be willing to welcome the refugees into their homes.

The venture has significantly attracted the attention of many individuals after putting forth their initial question: ‘If you had the means, would you house a refugee?’ The campaign site has thus allured politically engaged users to have their opinions heard and this is just one of many topics set to fully feature on their website. The campaign site also hopes that this promising platform will be able to work with other petition and campaign sites so as to heighten the effectiveness of many campaigns by infusing human emotion into topical issues.

Matt Scott, co-founder of the site along with news decoding site Scenes of Reason explained the reasoning behind the creation of NowVoiceIt: ‘Petitions have been increasingly successful in putting pressure on governments to action change, but what if you added a face and voice to your signature?’ Scott went on to illustrate how effective the venture could potentially be saying: ‘NowVoiceIt is all about using a webcam and mic, something you’ll find on every modern computer and handheld device, to make your opinion heard. We can visualise how the majority of the public feel, rather than relying on the media’.

Olivia Cappuccini, Founder of Scenes of Reason highlights how the venture will help ordinary citizens have an actual democratic say in political campaigns and petitions, expressing how the views of many are often muted by the seemingly omnipotent words of politicians and the media: ‘Everyone in Britain has an opinion, but all too often these are drowned out by the views of the media or politicians. The idea behind NowVoiceIt is to hear the opinions of the average person in the street. Think about how much information we’ll be able to gather about who feels what and whether there are social trends dependent on age, location and/or gender’.

Cappuccini also explains why the question of opening up our doors to refugees was a brilliant initial question for the platform to begin on: ‘The refugee question seemed a good one to start on as it’s so topical. We’re not asking people to pledge to open their home as we know many people simply don’t have the means. There is no right or wrong answer to the question. Many people have sympathy with these refugees, but we’re curious to see how far the British will go to support those fleeing the war in Syria’. Indeed, due to the influence of the Right-wing media we might think that many Britons would be unlikely to treat the refugees with sympathy and such a platform might prove to accurately gauge public opinion.

People can record their video submission on the phone, tablet or computer webcam. They simply need to hold up a location card of where they are in the world, state their Yes or No answer and if they wish, add a short reason. Each three-second video will be included in a rolling video on the NowVoiceIt site, alongside a bar showing the balance of opinion among the contributors.

As a Politics student, I myself am thrilled to see such a forward-thinking venture develop as a way to engage more people with politics and thus improve digital democracy. Shout Out UK wishes NowVoiceIt all the best in its endeavour to heighten the effectiveness of online campaigns and petitions.

Emilie is a Cambridge university student who is keenly interested in the political world and believes that the current state of political apathy in Britain today must be reversed. Emilie's particular areas of interests in politics are American politics, British politics, Environmental politics and the role English literature can play within politics.

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