Great panel, particularly your talk. Makes me want to hear more about what happened in the Dean campaign, technology-wise (didn’t really follow it at the time). I sure hope the internet changes everything after all, in something so important as politics.
One thing: you weren’t the guy who advised Dean to scream I hope?
Yeah, Joe, I said to Howie, Howie I sez, “Let off a little steam. What harm can it do?”
In fact, I met Dean once, for just a few minutes. I mainly advised the campaign on Internet policy, which I did by assembling a board of Net folks. I also got to kibbitz a little about their Net tactics, but I learned far more from them than vice versa.
I found your remarks immensely thought-provoking although the audience seemed like a buncha stiffs. What I wanted to ask, had I been there, was that although you seem to have a good grasp of how the Web could revolutionize democracy, don’t you think that the resistance from traditional marketing forces will be so great as to be insurmountable? Appealing to the lizard brain is how it’s been done for the last 30 or 40 years now, and that’s the way that certain, indeed most, candidates will always want it, because they don’t WANT anybody to use anything other than the lizard brain; conversely, Joe Six-Pack has become conditioned to think that using anything more than his Lizard Brain is veering dangerously far into the sphere of the Pointy Headed Intellectual. It’s become instrinsic to American Democracy by now. I guess this is a longwinded way of saying I was inspired by your idealism and worried by your naivete.
Also I wondered if you had a link to a site that explains blogging in simple one-syllable words.
I was interested to hear in your talk that John Kerry has hired Clark’s former internet architect, Cam Barrett, whom I gather is a pioneer blogger. Haven’t been able to find much about the innovative blogging software he developed for Clark, but just startin to look.
Seeing what happened to Dean and Clark though, I wonder though if these networks are really not so transformative and it remains politics as usual that largely determines the process.
There’s a great book about politics written by an old Tammany Hall boss William Plunkett. His description of ad hoc “Democracies,” which were groups of reformers that sporadically tried to counter Tammany influence, might apply to electronic meetups and physical meetups at Starbucks:
In the old days of the County Democracy, a new Democratic organization meant some trouble for Tammany – for a time anyhow. Nowadays a new Democracy means nothin’ at all except that about a dozen bone-hunters have got together for one campaign only to try to induce Tammany to give them a job or two, or in order to get in with the reformers for the same purpose. You might think that it would cost a lot of money to get up one of these organizations and keep it goin’ for even one campaign, but, Lord bless you! it costs next to nothin’. Jimmy O’Brien brought the manufacture of “Democracies” down to an exact science, and reduced the cost of production so as to bring it within the reach of all. Any man with $50 can now have a “Democracy” of his own.
I’ve looked into the industry, and can give rock-bottom figures. Here’s the items of cost of a new “Democracy”
A dinner to twelve bone-hunters $12.00
A speech on Jeffersonian Democracy 00.00
A proclamation of principles (typewriting) 2.00
Rent of a small room one month for headquarters 12.00
Twelve secondhand chairs 6.00
One secondhand table 2.00
Twenty-nine cuspidors 9.00
Sign painting 5.00
Is there any reason for wonder, then, that “Democracies” spring up all over when a municipal campaign is comm’ on? If you land even one small job, you get a big return on your investment. You don’t have to pay for advertisin’ in the papers. The New York papers tumble over one another to give columns to any new organization that comes out against Tammany. In describin’ the formation of a “Democracy” on the $50 basis, accordin’ to the items I give, the papers would say somethin’ like this: “The organization of the Delicatessen Democracy last night threatens the existence of Tammany Hall. It is a grand move for a new and pure Democracy in this city. Well may the Tammany leaders be alarmed; panic has already broke loose in Fourteenth Street. The vast crowd that gathered at the launching of the new organization, the stirrin’ speeches and the proclamation of principles mean that, at last, there is an uprisin’ that will end Tammany’s career of corruption. The Delicatessen Democracy will open in a few days spacious headquarters where all true Democrats may gather and prepare for the fight.”
Say, ain’t some of the papers awful gullible about politics? Talk about come-ons from Iowa or Texas they ain’t in it with the childlike simplicity of these papers.
I don’t have a handy “Here’s Blogging!” reference for you. Rebecca Blood wrote a good book about it, as have others; you might try googling her.
Joe, I don’t know if the networks are transformative. One of my points (during ther Q&A) was that we can’t know yet. It’s way too early. We’ve had one national campaign that’s tried some stuff, and it is literally impossible to know now what the social Net stuff did for or two the campaign.
One question I have about your talk. You referred several times to the term “reality-based” in reference to (I think) the marketing view of politics. I.e., a somewhat derogatory context.
That pricked my ears because just recently (on AirAmerica) I’ve heard that Rove et al eschew the “reality-based” thinking, arguing that they effectively create a new reality as they go. Maybe “emergent” or tranformative reality?
Here is a transcipt of a conversation between David Susskind and a Bush staffer:
STAFFER: You know, you Suskind you’re in what we call the ‘reality based community’.
SUSKIND: The what?
STAFFER: The ‘reality based community’. You all believe that the answers, the solutions will emerge from your judicious study of discernable reality.
SUSKIND: Yeah. Yeah, of course.
STAFFER: Well, let me tell you how we really see it. You see, we’re an empire now. And when we act, we kind of create a reality. Events flow from our actions.
And because of that, what we do, is essentially — we act. And every time we act, we create a whole new set of laws of physics that you will then judiciously study for your solutions. And while your doing that we’ll act again — promulgate a whole ‘nother set.
At the end of day this guy’s saying to me…
STAFFER: So that’s where we’ll stand ultimately: You’ll study us and we will act. We’ll be the actors and you will study what we do. And if your really good, on good behaviour, maybe thirty years from now one of us will visit that graduate seminar your teaching at Dartmouth in your tattered tweed blazer.
That’s the thinking: We’ll be actors, you all debate and study, but don’t budge.
Wow, that staffer has a cynically post-modern view! I’m impressed!
I didn’t mean my own disavowal of reality in the same way. I’m not claiming to create a new reality by my imperial actions in the world. I only meant that I fail on the T-F portions of the test.
Well, I meant a little more. I also meant that the phrase “Be realistic” is used to shut people up, and that a hard-headed realism is often an obnoxiously male trait.
Darn! Why did you have to go head-to-head with Blogging of the President at Bloggercon II. I wanted to join your session but had to go with Gillmor. I feel like I made up for it by watching your C-SPAN appearance on the Internet (it seemed more appropriate that way). Plus, I got to hear Matt Stoller be funny.
A letter from a Limbaugh listener on a recent WaPo article on Air America prompted me to watch the video; I posted on the whole thing on my site.
I recommend this C-SPAN video for the following reasons: you get to hear David Weinberger’s excellent insights, you get to hear Matt Stoller be funny, you get a glimpse into why Mark Walsh failed as AAR’s CEO, and a genuine insight into what liberals…
“Weblogs, or blogs, are a way of publishing to the web one idea at a time. By simplifying the process of publishing, letting authors create posts easily, and making it simple to link to related ideas on the web, blogs make it easy to update a website while still making sure your words retain a clear, personal voice.”