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Issue 112   Democracy And The Cellphone       
ISSN: 0219-4147

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Technology & Cellphone Elections 2004 can thank the Technology of email and the cellphone for donations and emotional support on behalf of one cause or another. Howard Dean was instrumental in awakening the U.S. liberal and anti-war factions to donate to his campaign via cellphone. He collected near US$ 50 million via the cellphone while mobilizing anti-war rallies to his cause. Every candidate in the U.S. election is now using the Internet and sms messages. The traffic, spamming, and pleas for donations are staggering to the mind.The Spanish election, Socialists won, is attributed to the swing votes encouraged by sms messages. 77% of the voting population went to the polls, a record. The message accurate or not was the government's failure to protect the country after Madrid bombings, thus voting for the other guy. They did! The irony of Madrid was the cellphone was used to trigger the bombs that devastated the trains.

Terrorists are tracked via their cellphones. In fact the lead perpetrator in the Madrid disaster owned a cellphone shop. An easy vehicle for democracy to evil. But the Terrorists usually communicate by cellphone and the Internet. Tracking is now pushing them back to using human couriers or, old Technology.

The issue for governments is the speed, anonymity and honesty of the message. We are all humans and emotion affects how most of us respond to crisis or issues. Just look at the emotion of South Korea's impeachment this month, street demonstrations etc. Remember Roh Moo Hyun was elected, like in Spain, with emotional sms messages to get out the vote for him. That South Korean emotion is working again with his supporters energizing to reverse his being removed from office.

Al Qaeda and others understand the use of the cellphone for their evil. Democracies now understand how to marshal the voters and to get money. 2004 has elections across the globe; U.S., Indonesia, Philippines, and many other countries. How the cellphone influences the voter will be tremendous.

The new influence is Technology. Read about it in a new book Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution by Howard Rheingold. Interestingly he worked for Howard Dean. Many people are polarized on issues and the emotions are high so watch the influence of fast Technology with well-crafted messages.

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