Hot & Cool Election Campaigns

While I was in Montreal this week I received a call from a newspaper journalist, looking for some comments about the use of blogs in the current election. I was engaged in meetings and the deadline was only a few hours away, so I wasn’t able to to add an insights (not that I had any pithy comments ready anyway).
Instead, the journalist should have contacted Mark Federman who has some excellent comments on the election, especially around McLuhan’s work on Hot versus Cool media. For instance:

You cannot "label" a medium as hot or cool by looking at the medium, but rather by observing its effects. A hot medium is one that is hypnotic, decreasing awareness by providing explicit, often simplistic, information. It is intense, and tends to separate and fragment. There is little active, cognitive participation because of the explicitness; rather we take it in and nod in agreement, eyes glazing over. If you find yourself mindlessly echoing tropes and memes without really thinking them through (to discover a hidden context, for instance) you have likely been exposed to a hot media environment.

Mark goes on to show how a party could use the Internet as a cool medium:

One of the effects of UCaPP is for "consumers to become producers." In the context of the current campaign, this might mean that ordinary people could be given a venue on the campaign sites to upload their own podcasts. Consider the Liberal Party dilemma of lack of trust. Now imagine if the archetypal "ordinary Canadian" was given an open and free opportunity to upload a "why I’m planning to vote Liberal" podcast directly to the Liberal party site. At the very least, all the ideas that the central campaign can’t think of would immediately become available to them. What’s more, (as we learned from the Howard Dean Experience) even anti-Liberal trolls (a troll, of course is relative to the venue; one person’s troll is another person’s freedom fighter, so to speak) would be contributing to the passion, fervor and motivation of the Liberal team and their supporters (Dean raised a huge amount of money through people pledging donations for every troll post to Deanspace). Most important, allowing such a forum for democratic participation and conversation is the move that would help to create the trust, openness and welcoming that a cool campaign requires.

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