Archive for the 'politics' Category

Tags beat the identity out of identity politics


Ike Piggott posts about the effect of tags ‘n’ such on identity politics. (His themes are very close to those in Everything Is Miscellaneous. So, there you have it, a plug for my book. I feel dirty.)

“Why Democrats Rule the Web”


As a follow-up to the politics discussion from last week, here is article from TIME stating that McCain is behind the curve on the web…
Why Democrats Rule The Web

Also, here is an old article (from last summer) about Obama’s web campaign.

If the democrats truly rule the web, will that make a difference in the elections?

Web as scandal monger


Here’s an email I received from Kevin Donovan, posted with Kevin’s permission:

 Hey David,

I’m an undergraduate at Georgetown but have been following the class blog closely. I just found this article from a month ago about political scandal/gossip on the web which might be of interest even if the course is winding down: . The speed of dissemination for news is increasingly too fast for politicians to respond and the archival and searchable nature makes escaping the past more difficult.

Thanks for making the course open so I could follow the fascinating discussions this semester.


Can PR Save the Beijing 2008 Olympics?


“Can PR Save the Beijing 2008 Olympics?”

This blog usually covers a number of the topics that came up during our class discussion with DW on Astroturfing and Marketing “Conversations” and this whole entry, including the comments, relates to the conversation with Ethan Zuckerman about Western Media Bias and the Chinese Olympics.


More on Internet Campaigning


Some of our discussion in class last week reminded me of this article in Rolling Stone.  The article discusses some of the techniques that Obama’s campaign is using, including novel uses of the web.  It discusses the social networking site “MyBo,” includes an approving quote from Joe Trippi, and explains how Obama has generally built and improved upon the basic internet framework that Howard Dean developed in 03-04.

However, I think one of the most interesting parts of the article is a brief discussion (on page 2) of how the Obama campaign has intentionally played down its internet involvement in order to avoid being labeled “the next Howard Dean” and treated merely as a flash in the pan.  Unfortunately, the article does not really elaborate on this point.  Would playing up his internet credentials really cause Barack Obama to be taken less seriously?  Would some voters be turned off by social networking sites dedicated to him?  Would Howard Dean comparisons be fatal?  I believe that the answer to all these questions is probably “no,” but clearly at least one media director in the Obama camp felt otherwise…

First 21st Century campaign?


That’s what Ronald Brownstein argues in this piece in National Journal.

Facebook-era politics: more talking? or just more clicking?


This blog has a post talking about a panel discussion hosted by NYU entitled “How the Web is Changing American Politics,” which featured Arianna Huffington, among others. (Politics group, I tried to see if this was on your blog/ wiki but couldn’t find it…sorry if I’m duplicating anything!) From the blogger’s account, it seems like it was all about how great Obama’s campaign has been about using Facebook and other social networking sites to his advantage — rather than about a more fundamental impact on politics. Then again, maybe online social networking IS a fundamental change in politics. This post raises a few questions about Facebook-era politics and its implications.

First, in social networking sites’ advent onto the political scene, are we entering an era where Americans wear their votes on their sleeves much more than before? And if so, does that matter?

We’ve been talking a lot about how grassroots approaches are more en vogue than ever, in part because of the Web…but I wonder if the other side of that is that voters “pick sides” more conspicuously — by joining Facebook groups, becoming a “supporter” of their favored politician, etc. (I know I have been much more up front about my allegiances this time around, largely because of Facebook.) This may not be a bad thing if it means more people are engaging with the issues and contributing to the political debate. On the other hand, I think there’s a legitimate concern that social networking sites might lead to politics becoming more of a superficial popularity contest. Now that people can broadcast their political preferences with the click of a button, I see the potential for quite a “bandwagon” effect. Ultimately, will the benefits from increased political participation outweigh the potential harm of fostering (or deepening) a “herd mentality” among voters?

Second (and harder to answer): is Web political involvement (including on Facebook) as meaningful as “real world” political involvement? When people join politicians’ Facebook groups, are they strengthening democratic ideals? Or encouraging a sort of “democracy-lite” society? (In this respect, we run into a familiar question: is the Web a substitute for or add-on to real-world behavior/ media/ relationships?)

NYT columnist Thomas Friedman has one view, expressed in this article that appeared in the Times last fall. Trippi (who thinks the internet has encouraged campaigns to engage people in “real dialogue”) and DW seem to have a different view. In Broadcasting and the Voter’s Paradox, DW (who will kill me for quoting from his writings) says: “Voting is gloriously paradoxical. Each person gets one and only one vote, equal to everyone else’s. When we vote, we are mere faces in the crowd, yet we rejoice in our mere-ness. Yet with that one vote, we express what is unique about us.” And later: “We don’t yet know what the effect will be now that we have remembered that democracy is about connecting as much as about standing alone in a voting booth facing a lonely, existential decision.” So he seems to think Web involvement may end up being MORE meaningful in some ways.

Will voting post-Facebook still involve expressing “what is unique about” ourselves? Or will we veer too sharply toward becoming “mere faces in the crowd” of our Facebook groups? Will we really do more talking and “connecting”? or just more clicking?

Politics and open source


One of the readings for today talked of the great potential of applying the Linux open source model to political campaigning. Is the open source model really different? Here’s an article describing the rapid increase in open source acquisitions by wealthy investors. Is open source going “corporate”? What type of effect will the outside money have? Is this symbolic of other trends of web differences?

Web’s Effect on Political Debates


Dan Gillmor has a great post that talks about what the future of political debates could look like.

Transparency and Fundraising Online (warm-up for politics online project)


Apparently the Clintons have decided to yield even more transparency after releasing their tax returns for the past 7 years. Now the Clinton campaign has unleashed a new technique for web fundraising. When you contribute online for the Pennsylvania primary, you can choose where you would like the money to go. The website, “MyPA” shows the campaigns’ progression in meeting goals for each category. The Clinton camp has been innovative; in the past there has been a musical contest, a chance to watch a debate with Bill and a chance to roll on the trail with Chelsea. Time will tell if this innovation can surpass Obama’s new million in a minute campaign, began by independent supporters.