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Facebook, Wikipedia and Iceland's upcoming constitutional review

Reykjavik graffiti

Reykjavik graffiti

I'm in Reykjavík  for a few days collecting data on several political projects. This afternoon, I stopped by the CLARA office to learn more about their work. In addition to getting some first-hand translations of fascinating projects like this (visualizations of some political mashup data), I learned a little more about the upcoming constitutional committee elections.

In November, Iceland will elect a special committee tasked with reviewing the Icelandic constitution. Rather uniquely (in Icelandic elections), citizens will cast their votes for individuals and not for parties. The threshold for getting on the ballot is low -- someone said it required 30 signatures on a petition (I'm not sure if that statement was tongue-in-cheek) -- and over a hundred candidates have thrown their hats in for one of ~30 spots on the committee. The official site for the committee was found lacking by the candidates, in that it won't make the candidate list officially available for several weeks. So the candidates are collaboratively editing a page on the Icelandic Wikipedia. This page contains a table with each candidate's name, sex, district, interest keywords, and application status. Links to the candidate's main web presence are provided when available, which contain a very high proportion of Facebook pages (perhaps unsurprisingly, considering that Iceland has an extraordinarily high Facebook penetration rate). I doubt an appropriation like this would survive long on the English Wikipedia, but it's great to see this work here.

There's nothing especially novel about any of this, of course, but it's fascinating how quickly and casually Facebook and Wikipedia were moved to the core of this national election.

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