The Revolution Has Begun

After the 2004 Presidential campaign, Joe Trippi wrote in his book The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Democracy, The Internet and The Overthrow of Everything:  
"This generation of activists is being defined by what they accomplish using the Internet, just as surely as my generation of politicians and strategists was defined by and, eventually chained to, the television. But while TV was a medium that rendered us dumb, disengaged, and disconnected, the Internet makes us smarter, more involved and better informed. The Internet was designed to foster cooperation; it's built on a foundation of shared innovation. This is the beginning of their time. When they use this technology to transform our country in a thunder roll of democracy and change, nothing will ever be the same."

Joe's revolution, begun in 2003, has arrived.

Months ago, I wrote a white paper entitled Keep Washington Blue (link will be back up on the blog shortly), a strategy memo of sorts for the Washington State Democratic Party. In that paper, I wrote about the use of blogging, podcasting and text messaging as a way to build grassroots support. At the time it was not really a new idea, nor was it an original idea, but not many politicians/campaigns were doing it. Until now...

On June 30, Political Wire noted that John Edwards' One America Committee had begun using text messaging to mobilize supporters and spread its message.

 John Edwards unveiled a text messaging platform where users can sign up and give their name, email and cell phone number to receive periodic updates on the likely 2008 presidential candidate's activities.

You can also join if you text message the word HOPE to 56658. You'll get this message back: "Thanks 4 joining our mobile team. Please text me your name and email. Visit us at I'll be in touch--John."

Text messaging is a viable campaign technology, but care must be taken to ensure that it isn't abused. Since text messaging costs the subscriber to use, either on a monthly or per-message basis, campaigns and politicians must only text message those who have given their approval. In addition, text messages shouldn't be sent out to one's list multiple times during the day. Either abuse of text messaging becomes spam. And we all know what a nuisance spam is, and woe to the politician/campaign committee that spams potential supporters.

Then on July 18, Political Wire reported that John Edwards is using Peer-to-Peer File Sharing technology to distribute audio and video.

 As Tech Crunch notes, former Sen. John Edwards now uses BitTorrent to distribute video and audio. The peer-to-peer technology essentially allows "grass roots online volunteers" to distribute information to others in a low cost way.
Now Edwards' podcasts and campaign video can be rapidly sent throughout the internet, in essence providing "on-demand" content for supporters. With more people plugged into the internet than at any time before, and with more people getting their news from on-line sources, this will become the standard for political/campaign advertising in the years to come.

And finally, the Los Angeles Times reported on the history of technology in recent campaign cycles and discussed what we can expect in 2008.

The "blast fax" -- or ability to send a printed page to hundreds of recipients at a time -- was a big deal in the 1980s, before e-mail. Websites, once a campaign novelty, are ubiquitous today. Ditto candidate blogs.

Most people thought we were out of our minds," said Joe Trippi, who midwifed the first online presidential campaign diary as a part of Howard Dean's 2004 race. "Now I can't think of a single congressional campaign that doesn't have one."

And surprise, surprise, what can we now expect from campaigns...podcasting.
In the latest creative wrinkle, politicians are podcasting -- White House hopefuls Gen. Wesley K. Clark, John Edwards and Sen. Bill Frist are among those regularly offering their downloadable ruminations -- and turning up on Flickr, MySpace, YouTube and other photo- and video-sharing Internet sites.
For some of us who work in politics and have embraced technology, this comes as no surprise, but believe me there are a lot of skeptics in the political world who view all of these techonologies as a waste of time. And the Times has a good response for the skeptics:
The fundamentals of politics haven't changed. Even promoters of the most razzle-dazzle technology say a successful candidate has to be likable, offer a message with broad resonance and show up in ads. There needs to be "a coherent vision," said Democratic strategist Doug Hattaway. "People aren't just dopes, sitting in front of their TVs or computers waiting to give some Pavlovian response."

But even the basics have to be recalibrated when invention changes the way people live -- as quickly, it often seems, as the click of a mouse. [emphasis mine]

The revolution is upon us, and you can either join it or be relegated to the pages of history.

Tags: blogging, campaigns, Internet, Joe Trippi, John Edwards, Podcasting, text messaging (all tags)


1 Comment

Re: The Revolution Has Begun

This revolution will be relatively easy to implement as it means changing the tools of power more than who controls the tools.

In one of the Making of the President books (I think 1972), Theodore White wrote a chapter on the increasing participation of women in politics entitled "The Nylon Revolution."  Evolution would be more like it as 30+ years later we have yet to have a woman Preident or Vice President and currently only 8 of 50 Governors (16%) and 11 of 100 (Senators) are women.

by David Kowalski 2006-07-24 05:12AM | 0 recs


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