Saturday, March 25, 2006

FEC, Meet the WWW

In an interesting article on C|Net, we're told that the Federal Election Commission is approaching its relationship with the Internet using kid gloves. Good. In my last post, and God knows how many others, I've talked about Internet regulation as a fact of life. What I've never spelled out explicitly is that the regulations, as with our Constitution, can promote absolute regimentation or a mostly free environment (trampling our Constitution is antithetical to its stated purpose, but that's another story. Anywhoo, the FEC ruled that "paid Web advertising, including banner ads and sponsored links on search engines, will be regulated like political advertising in other types of media." As it should be: paid ads are paid ads.

The kicker, which I'm most pleased about, is its ruling that "bloggers can enjoy the freedoms of traditional news organizations when endorsing a candidate or engaging in political speech." The rules, available in PDF format through the C|Net story above, should be approved at the FEC meeting next week. At long last, someone is going to take people who don't understand the Internet in hand and explain that, just as with traditional media outlets, some blogs may be nothing more than paid pundit placement (PPP - a webgeek pun); however, because we can never be sure except on a case-by-case basis, we can't shut them up.

Of course, this will benefit yours truly more than anyone else: the visual rhetoric of Internet political sites happens to be one of my strongest scholarly interests, and the next big election will be kicking in just around the time I start to work on my dissertation. I'm particularly interested in iconography and background visual interplay - a relatively understudied area of digital rhetoric - so I'll watch with great fascination as the political webspinners go to work on the opposition. One thing I've noted in papers thus far about this subject is that although the overt, print-based material (photographs, text, etc.) is focused heavily upon attacking the opposition, the background visuals provide subtly positive messages that concern themselves with providing a strong image to the primary party concerns of the site's owners.

We'll see what happens.
currently playing on miPod - Dvorak's Symphony no. 9, first movement.

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