There’s yet another piece of conventional wisdom developing. Today Clay Shirky said it succinctly: Is social software bad for the Dean campaign?
As Clay says, the Dean campaign started delighting and amazing us less than a year ago, in a crescendo of overdue good sense, impeccable candidate credentials and unprecedented cluefulness. Its people and money rocket started taking fire from 3 quadrants late last year and landed safely but damaged a week ago. Less than a week later, Clay reconsiders and compares the Dean people to some stoners he once saw grooving in a car:
I’m not clear how 3,500 people going to Iowa is the opposite of being proactive. Does he think those people are passively going to other states to avoid the hassle of voting in their home precinct? New Yorkers like Clay and me like to ridicule others for not being sharp or driven or hard-working, but I’m missing this one.
What’s really at work here is a sense of treason and loss. Some Netizens seem to feel betrayed by the Dean campaign since it isn’t fulfilling a Jongian dream of a zipless victory. The Dean campaign may have violated some followers’ tender sensibilities by starting strong but finishing 3rd in the only “primary” that isn’t actually a vote but rather a get-together where older people sit around and debate candidates over bean salad. Surely this means that the best-financed and populated campaign is doomed to failure in every other state where people actually vote behind a curtain rather than a coffee cup.
We fantasize that bloggers – especially the Power Law bloggers like Clay Shirky – are leading edge and visionary. But this feels like criticizing Edison for the flaming filaments or Wilbur and Orville for failed airfoils.
Let’s get a grip, people! The Dean campaign is as close as we’re going to get to one that conforms to the values we’ve been fantasizing since 0 BC (Blogging Commenced). After pining for an Internet-based solution to the old political order, are we going to cut and run at the first hint of a setback?
The more insightful position might be to ridicule the Deaniacs for not being sophisticated about the real nature of campaigns as Tom Steinberg comments:
But that still rings hollow. Is the Old Tech “good at getting enough people out to win elections”? The larger consensus is that there’s not enough interest in politics, precisely because the old tech – broadcast – can’t get people excited about the process. The evidence is that only the New Tech is motivating people, as smallbrain points out:
(FWIW, when the dust settles and the skeptics learn the real story behind those 15,000 missing caucus-goers, the skeptics will understand far better what a transient and capricious matter the Iowa stumble was. We can discuss it over champagne at the Inaugural Ball.)
The Old New Activists
I’ve never been active in politics before, but I’m taking the year off because I represent the Internet Wing of the Democratic Party, and frankly, my
When I spend my 16 hour days up in Burlington, paying dearly for the privilege of doing so, I’m surrounded by people 14-80 who’ve never worked on a campaign before, communicating with about 2/3 million people who’ve never “joined” a campaign who are sending issues-based emails and letters – about 3,000 per day, which the volunteers dutifully answer as fast as they can. I sit with Wayne and Tommy and Joe in the Policy department, discussing policy more than blogging and marvel at something I thought only happens in corny movies.
During the big December snow, Halley was up in Burlington with us. We got a lot done, but we had a lot of fun, too, attending the Christmans party and walking Doc around the halls and introducing him to Joe Trippi and the rest of the gang. At the time, she told me a story about one of the volunteers, Laurie, who had such a deep and personal debt to Governor Dean that it brought tears to Halley’s eyes, but she thought it too private to blog. Making conversation, Halley had asked Laurie why she was stuffing envelopes. It’s simple, Laurie started, “Governor Dean saved my life.”
Tonight, Laurie Hammond bravely told her story on the Dean Blog. Don’t pay any attention to Clay or me or Tom Steinberg or smallbrain, or to Hammersley who pointed me to Clay’s second thoughts. Read Laurie’s story to keep all this in perspective and glimpse what’s really at stake here.
Yeah. We pundit wannabes wouldn’t want to get too real.
If you blog it and you know it clap your hands!
As bloggers, we’re perfectly equipped to address politics as a web app design challenge, not an obligation to mimic the pundits’ sophisticated sophistry. This is the Internet and we’re supposed to know what to do with it. Let’s spend some cycles on the answers, not on sounding like a an expert.
At a rally today at Phillips Exeter Academy, Howard Dean closed with a lesson he learned at 17 that I prefer to Clay Shirky’s at 19:
The man has spoken. Excuse me, I’ve gotta get back to work on mydeanpeople.com.