Last night, former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson came to Purdue to talk about the challenges of US Foreign Policy in the 21st Century. He did an overview of many of the conflicts and challenges all around the world. He mentioned that immigration, and global economics are the biggest challenges currently facing the US. It was a great talk and it was a fantastic time. He spoke very briefly, and then took questions for over half of the time.
I had an opportunity to ask him a question that I think is very vital to both political science and the TECH 621 class. I asked him: “After seeing the Arab Spring and the Iran Elections in 2009, do you think the Internet is vital to Democracy?” The answer he gave was an overwhelming yes. He gave an anecdote from when he campaigned in Iowa in 2007 about when he was asked to take an interview with The Washington Post Online which he stated was read by more people than the actual paper. He also mentioned that it allows people to have a voice when it comes to important decisions.
The most interesting part of his response was that he suggested that we should de-emphasize Radio Free Europe and get the best minds to create a new large social media and social networking site. Honestly, I love this idea. If the Internet is vital to democracy then it isn’t a bad idea to try to bring this expertise to the people who would use it. It also would create more jobs in social media, a field that is continually growing in demand. If this project can help bring the excitement of many social media users and professionals, the people accessing this new social network would bring the developing countries to a wider platform on the Internet. If Gov. Richardson is right, then this idea is a step in the right direction!