The BBC announce today that singer Kylie Minogue has launched her own social networking website for her fans to communicate with each other. The KylieKonnect website enables fans to create personal profiles and upload images, as well as "keep up to date with all the very latest on Kylie".
My friend and colleague Nigel Jackson wonders if this is a model that political parties should pursue? Firstly they have ownership of the network, so can set their own parameters for behaviour. Secondly they are able to build up an interest group that can discuss issues and interact with party members, leaders and each other. Thirdly they have a database of supporters or interested parties that can, maybe, be drawn towards other forms of activism. In theory it could have potential as an idea.
As Nigel points out the problem is that it would probably end up deliberately consisting of a lot of top down communication, rather than the horizontal communication that social networking and Web 2.0 offers due to politicians wanting to retain control over postings. However the Stand Up Speak Out model offers some glimpses into a less vertical and more horizontal model of interaction. Would anyone dare offer this? Would anyone visit? Would it be better than random appearances on MySpace or Facebook?