Like Kayce, i was taking in the cultural nuance this weekend that is MTV. Actually, i happened upon the MySpace/MTV Political thingamajig on Friday night, and was only able to stomach the first 10 minutes or so. John Edwards was the focus, but my dislike of the forum had little to do with the candidate. It had to do with Activity Theory and what it exposed of the brokenness of our electoral process.
The format was as follows:
- Candidate is asked a question by an audience member
- Candidate answers the question
- People in MySpace.com place vote in the following categories, based on the answer:
- “understands reality”
- “answered questions”
- “has the wrong ideas”
- “out of touch”
- “dodged the question”
- Candidate can view the results of the poll immediately
What bothered me about the process was nicely and unwittingly exemplified by Edward’s own words in the video above when he asks the moderator how he should understand the livepoll pie chart. After the moderator explains that the last 3 categories (colored pink and red in the chart he was viewing) are “bad,” Edwards says “The pink and the red you want as little of as you can get by with.” With just a little bit of Activity Theory, one can quickly parse out the many ways that the technology, in this case, is part of a sociotechnical system that is helping to destroying the democratic process by increasing the rate at which presidential candidates can morph their message into something that is what people want to hear, rather than something that they actually believe and plan to carry out.