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Al Gore Peddles New 'Occupy Democracy' Movement: 'Change the Democratic Conversation


"Our democracy has been hacked."

AUSTIN, Texas (The Blaze/AP) -- In a wide-ranging talk about the Internet and government, Al Gore urged the techie crowd at South By Southwest to use digital tools to improve government.

The former vice president sat for a conversation with Napster co-founder and Web entrepreneur Sean Parker on Monday at SXSW in a flashy tete-a-tete that drew an audience of thousands at the Austin Convention Center and more viewers via a live stream.

"Our democracy has been hacked," said Gore, framing Washington gridlock and the effects of special interest money in digital terms.

To fix what he called a no-longer functional U.S. government, Gore urged the audience to begin a new "Occupy Democracy" movement. He pushed for the creation and implementation of digital tools and social media to "change the democratic conversation."

(Related: Meet the 'sixth sense' iPhone app that's exciting social media gurus and worrying others)

Watch this rough clip of Gore speaking at the social media and tech conference:

Here's another, where Gore plugs use of social media to help solve the "climate crisis":

Parker shares some of his thoughts on the importance of the rise of new mediums in the social media world:

Parker speaks about how social media tools can be used to help "unlock power" to change "systemic" problems the government. Gore says that using "magnificent" digital tools can help "elevate the role of reason and truth" to help put pressure on politicians and elected officials to make changes:

Gore talked of a "Wiki-democracy" of "digital flash mobs calling out the truth" and "a government square that holds people accountable."

Parker, who was famously portrayed by Justin Timberlake in "The Social Network," has gotten into politics by investing in Votizen, an online network of voters that leverages social networks to campaign for their issues. He also sits on the board of NationBuilder, which also seeks to organize political change.

Parker said he believes social media is only its infancy of what it can do to spur action. He cited the Internet rally against the Stop Online Piracy Act as a hint of the power of social networks. He called the protest "Nerd Spring," alluding to the Arab Spring uprisings in the Middle East.

Both Gore and Parker derided the dominant role of television in elections and political dialogue. Change, Parker said, won't come from within the political system.

To applause, Gore added; "I can confirm that."

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