Archive for July 26th, 2004

On my way down to the Fleet Center now


The sunshine is gorgeous, people are out in the parks, almost no one is
working–I just drove out of downtown at 5 PM, with no traffic at
all.  What is obvious is the security.  Here west of Boston
our normally quiet skies are now regularly ripped by fighter jets
zooming around the city, protecting us by air. These jets come out of
the North American Defense Command, but are now under the direct
control of the Secret Service.  The are flying 24 hours a
day.  In town you have got to love the security.  On every
corner there are clusters of police, marines, MPs, and others.  By
clusters I mean 6 to 10 in a group.  And then the black Chevy
suburbans and police motorcades wind their way by every few
minutes.  And I’m talking a mile or so from the Fleet Center..

My agenda tonight is to watch and report, of course, but also to 
bring attention to the genocide in Sudan, and to the importance of
human rights issues for the country, the party, and the campaign. 
And of course I am urging folks to go to  -->

Harvard Law lunch on Internet and Society and Political Transformation


I’m sitting here across from Joe Trippi, author of The Revolution
will not be Televised and next to Dick Bell, chief blogger of the
Kerry campaign, also here is Andrew McLaughlin, head of public affairs
at Google, and a former Berkmanite.  Also here Tod Cohen of eBay,
others. The  topic today is the transformation of political
culture.  We are having the beginning of lunch.  I will be
back with updates when more happens.

Pre-lunch discussion of the blogger’s breakfast predictable
issue.  At the bloggers breakfast earlier  today there were
three speakers, including  Walter Mears who is the (new) blogger
for AP–which has hired for the first time a number of bloggers. 
Someone asked  “how do your politics affect your
newswriting.”  He gave a spirited defense of “putting your
politics aside” as a reporter.  This was of course countered by
essentially  the whole audience of bloggers.  Bloggers
embrace their own point of view.

We are doing intros–Zack Exley from Kerry campaign mentions that he
has been working for years to use the web  to transform
society–but for the next few months he is focused on using web tools
to win elections.  “After the election we will review both

I expect we will discuss both. Here are a few of the intros

I’m Joe Trippi, came up as a grassroots organizers.  In the 80s
and 90s started building web communities.  Decided to marry the
two to help Howard Dean win an election.  I would say that
the problem in my view is that the net really is at 1952–1956 in
relation to television.  The Dean campaign was equiv to Nixon
Checkers speech, or maybe Nixon Kewnnedy.  It took 11 years for TV
to become totally dominant.  It will happen faster in the
web–indeed it could happen instantly. [but we are not there yet..] I’m
interested in seeing how this will develop.

Tod Cohen with eBay.  Been fascinated as to whether our
community of users have political power. We’ve been trying to
understand that.  We are a community-based company.  To what
extent are we run by our communit.  We have six to seven users in
Germany, on eBay Germany.  Something is happening in Germany that
is not what we expected. We are interested in understanding what is
happening, and sharing what we are learning, and learning from you.

Sharon McBride, I run the political and grassroots organization at
eBay. We have half a million people who make their livings on
eBay.  When we go talk to public policy people, we try to speak
not only ourselves but a large community of business people.

JM: this is new to me–eBay as a political force in the US and in regions of the globe. Follow up.

Andrew McLaughlin, everything I know I learned at the Berkman
Center.  I worked on international development around
the world–Africa, Mongolia.  Now I am sort of
the cleanup hitter at Google for public policy.

Dick Bell leans over and tells me  he was director of
communication for Oxfam, and also for Worldwatch, and follows the
development issues.

John Palfrey points out the interest of the center in both domestic
politics and international internet development in areas such as Africa
and Central Asia.

In my intro I mention my involvement in bringing attention of the web on the genocide in Sudan–as well as my engagement with Joe in the Dean campaign.

It is interesting how many folks here have done international
development.  And of course community organizing.  And now
they are technologists and socio-technical activists.

Joe Trippi: “faith in strangers again.”

“What eBay, and we at Dean did was to help bring Americans back again to having a faith in strangers.

“Television does the opposite. It isolates people.

“When Harry Truman took the train he talked to 19 million
Americans.  And people  did something social, waited for
hours, met each other.

“When Ike talked to 19 million people on TV in the next election, it was not social.

“The net allows both.  It allows the social interaction of the Truman train, and the direct reach of Ike’s tv..

“The eBay community could rise up in a day and change this country–or change the world..”

Zack Exley: “What is changing is the structure of “the people.” The
train did that, the telephone, and now the net.  And so there are
two things  to study–the structure of the people, and the
tools  that [enable the people  to change their own

Andrew McLaughlin: “For the fall conference, I think we should not
focus on international development, but rather study  technology
and society globally.  I don’t know how many of you follow the
amazing stuff happening in Mongolia [see Berkman site for case study].

Or Kenya VOIP

and cell phones in Africa 

We can learn from South Korea, which is the most advanced place perhaps on the planet for internet campaigning.

We can learn lots  from global politics. About ourselves,
too.  For our conference in the fall, lets bring in folks from
these other areas.

Zack: we talk about trust. on eBay the rating system built
trust.  In the Kerry campaign, we let folks advertise a house
party without revealing address immediately. the attenders search by
area, and then if they register, and their registration is accepted by
the host, they see where it is. that little bit of code three lines
really helped us. and at moveon we did not get that. but kerry did. so
we will have 5000 house parties this week.

the  developers don’t necssariy get these social issues..we need to have training for tech folks about [social stuff].

JM see the old literature on “socio-technical systems” Miller and Rice.

Tod Cohen: Last year in the anti-spam regulation the country allowed
the political class to use spam, but not business.  so we created
two classes of people.

many folks think that the anti-spam act was intended to make only politicians able to use spam.

Jim Moore: the Dean campaign was a center of innovation. More than a
hundred new things were tried, at scale, and we learned a lot. When
people study the campaign they ask the wrong question–they ask why
Dean didn’t win. The better question is what worked and what didn’t,
and what does it tell us about behavior in politics in the new
socio-techniaal environment.

Mark Bohanon: politics 101–we don’t yet know how to use the internet to reach the “influencables.”

Joe Trippi: Dean was going to Austin Texas.  We had 481
emails.  One guy on  that list says come to my house and get
ready.  a hundred  showed up. they decided to leaflet the
whole latino community. and things kept going. and when we got there we
had 3200 people, at least half of whom did not have computers.  So
you can reach out.

Candlight vigils of moveon had same effect.  [the web stimulated a core–and it took off]

Zack Exley: the question is how to make that happen more.  the
lesson of the dean campaign is that when you let a thousand flowers
grow, only 10 really thrive.  because folks don’t really 
know how to organize. but if you train folks better, you can get a much
better return on the stimilation.  what if we train up 100000
people who can really do an effective house party.  we can use the
internet as the communication and connection. 

Peter Emerson: for the conference in the fall, it would be good
to commission some data organizing so that we are working off the same
fact base.  and we might take a pass at a review, a  state of
the art, and a prospective picture, to stimulate our thinking.

Tod Cohen: I want to thank everyone. This has been just what I
hoped for.  And let me point out that in the fall it will be
a non-partisan conference, so we will have our friends from 
the other side with us.  And that will be really good. 
One of the things  that I am interested in is which political
culture does this media most advantage?  We
don’t  know that, and it may be that different
approaches  work  differently in different political

[Someone] and  it may be that this technology can help to create a more non-partisan political dialogue and climate..

Everyone  claps.

I am off to talk to Matt Wood of
which is a new group with terrific video ads on why a world of
friends and allies is more secure.. Give them a little bit of
money if you’d like to see these ads run in swing states..

And do listen to this song and help us use the web to stop the genocide in Sudan.

Thanks folks!