It was great meeting many people who share my interests and passions at the Personal Democracy Forum in New York City last Friday.  Instead of focusing on summarizing sessions or panel discussions, I'll focus on a chat I had with Utah State Representative Steve Urquhart who participated in a panel discussion about voter generated content since he launched Politicopia — a wiki out in Utah where citizens debated laws from the last legislative session.

Representative Urquhart told me that he wonders how the Internet and the proliferation of information sources will affect the common political experiences we have as a country.  For example, a powerful national moment was when a sickly Richard Nixon debated John F. Kennedy; although we'll never know how much Nixon's appearance during the televised debated influenced his loss, that was a common moment.

While there has never been a shortage of political moments for us to collectively digest, the Internet has dramatically increased the amount of information outlets.  Granted, the mainstream media and the top viewed/watched/listened to lists at popular sites like YouTube equip us with similar sets of water cooler discussion topics, but there are so many other pieces of media that we experience in smaller groups.

During chit chats with fellow PdF attendees, I frequently heard others reference sites or videos that I've either barely or never heard of.  Thus, I either had to comment on the general topic or event that the site they referred addressed or ask them to fill me in.  We didn't share that experience or information source.

Beyond the cultural aspect of differing political experiences, this development makes political message management more complicated since it is harder to track down the information sources that others are citing.  Further, the proliferation of sources makes it harder to assess which outlets are the most influential for a given niche.  On the other hand, perhaps the more noise that is out there will lessen the chances that people will hear about negative aspects of a candidate, organization, or issue that one cares for.