I just listened to Joe Trippi speak at Etech. Everyone was ecstatic, enthused, wanting more, wanting to see how to extend it further. I was disappointed, reminded of why i feel disenchanted with politics. In campaigns, the measurement of success is how much money is raised, how many people are behind the person, etc. Quantitative bits.
Well, i want qualitative.
What does it mean to have a candidate who can distribute their voices down the Internet channel as well as the TV channel? Everyone gets all excited because the Dean campaign had an interactive communication scheme online. What does that mean? How many people’s opinions were changed this way? Somehow, i get the impression that the digital interactive environment allowed those with the same views to talk to others with the same views. This is *great* for support groups, but dreadful for changing the system.
I remember a conversation i had with Manuel Castells. He was worried that the Internet only segmented people more, letting them self-segregate into gated communities based on similarity. I really took this to heart; i think he’s dead-on. All too often, the Internet lets us find like-minded people and solidify our intolerance to other views. ::sigh::
So, back to Trippi… Great.. the Dean campaign found volunteers online, raised money online. They figured out how to take traditional campaign metrics and utilize the Internet to maximize those. The mass media/Internet certainly motivated the party to pay attention… something new! But did it really change much? The marginalized populations in this country still feel marginalized. The way we run campaigns in this country are so focused on money and power that i think that we lose track of the point.
Of course, the talk was certainly focused on Internet campaigning, not digital democracy. And as a friend of mine pointed out, things like this are evolutionary, not revolutionary. So maybe this is just the first step. But dear me was it painful to hear the defensive justification about how money is spent.