Dave Winer is asking PWB’s (People with Blogs) to point to his piece yesterday on how candidates should leverage the blogging world. It’s a good piece, and worthy of every campaign staff’s review:
“It’s not surprising to me, in a way, that weblogs have become such an important part of the early 2004 presidential campaign. I expect this campaign will take place more on the Web than it does on TV networks. That’s why I think candidates who use the Web to raise money for TV ads aren’t making enough of a bet on the Web, and are leaving the door open for those who do. But it must be hard to let go of a way of life. Politics has “always” worked that way, right? Anyway, it’s surprising when a vision comes true, no matter how strongly you felt it would.”
The sentiment is good, but the details seem to advocate a top-down mentality that is contrary to the weblog world. Dave lists seven suggestions for campaigns that would leverage whatever power blogs may have:
- Run a real weblog*
“you must link to all articles about your candidate, not just favorable ones”
Is this a good way to earn the respect of campaign professionals – start off by telling them what they must do? Is such inclusive linking even possible? Just how would the the Dean campaign could even identify all the Dean links? The official Blog lists 257 Dean-specific blogs alone. Inclusive linkage is a job for someone else, like Google or Technorati.
- Get a pied piper*
“Get an experienced blogger with a large community to write your main weblog.”
A key revolution of the Dean campaign is to share the voices of the campaign staff, who have become celebrities in their own right. Why would a qualified blogger do such a thing? If you’re willing to do this, you’re stuffing your own voice for more than a year, or you’re limiting your editorial options. The great thing about blogs is that we do these things anyway, as independent voices.
- Include independent bloggers*
“On the press bus, include people who are…making their minds up, people who will ask challenging questions”
- Publish advocacy guidelines*
“Teach the people who represent you on the Web to do so with respect for others, respect for the candidate and the campaign, but most important, self-respect.
Does top-down rules work anywhere? Self-organizing groups police each other based on the only standards they’re prepared to conform to. This stuff simply cannot be mandated by a campaign, any more than it can be managed for an RSS controversy.
- Publish your schedule*
“Make sure your candidate’s schedule is on your website and it’s current.
Also, keep track of where your competition is, and consider publishing that as well.”
- Choice in tools*
“The Dean campaign made a big mistake, imho, by getting into the software business. Now it looks like the Edwards campaign is following them. Software and the candidates should be separate.
I feel particularly qualified to respond to this point, since much of the early thinking on the DeanSpace initiative took place in my apartment, and I’ve attended IRC meetings and participate on the Dec mailing list.
Dave’s just wrong here. The campaign isn’t in the software business. Zephyr encouraged the open source volunteers to do what they wanted to do anyway. It’s not even clear that the volunteers are in the software business, since they’re simply customizing a special Drupal installation (“community plumbing“) and configuring it as a downloadable kit. Extending the Drupal toolset is precisely the act of “Building on what the weblog community has accomplished” that Dave recommends.
Might the complaint be that they are building the kit on open source tools?
- Speak about democracy*
“Advocate the benefits of citizens participating in government. Use some of your campaign money to buy Internet presence for voters. Talk about Jefferson, the First Amendment, etc etc. Ralph Waldo Emerson.”
Isn’t this a suggestion to do what’s criticized in item 6? The amazing comments section at the Dean Blog are full of deeper talk than has emerged from any think tank in the past 3 decades.
Dana Blankenhorn has also responded to Winer’s call for linkage to his post. Dana has posted some great stuff at GreaterDemocracy.org, including an insightful article yesterday on how and why military families may lead us to a better understanding of the problems of Bushism.
His take is also different from Dave Winer’s:
“One thing I disagree with Dave on is his advice against creating software tools, as the Dean folks are doing. (Here’s their latest.) In most cases, I agree with him…why reinvent the wheel? But in the case of a Presidential campaign, in a political world that lacks really useful industry-specific tools, I can’t argue against it.
One thing Howard Dean’s people have realized, that no one else (including Dave Winer) has realized, is that in a very short period of time they will become the Democratic Party. All candidates get temporary control of the apparatus once they are nominated. But this control is going to mean more this time, because the tools and sensibilities Dean is bringing to the Democrats mean more than Dean himself, and go beyond either him or his message. The Dean campaign brings lessons in social technology that every Democrat must have to compete, and a cadre of people who can teach those lessons. That will resonate long after Dea
n is forgotten.
Despite Dave Winer’s attempts to be fair politics is being changed today by only one campaign, that of Howard Dean. (And not by his home page, either — by this page .) And it’s not about him. It’s about an important lesson campaign manager Joe Trippi had to fight to learn some months ago, the lesson of letting go.
Give people the tools and they will make their own politics. That is your Clue for today.”
Yeah. That’s what we’re talkin’ about!