Another Box Checked
Well, here's a milestone: I'm a published author.
I'll have to buy one. Here's an excerpt from my chapter:
bq.. America is full of characters, freethinking individuals with the kinds of personalities that don’t necessarily fit well into blunt institutional molds like High School or Corporate Bureaucracy. A lot of us also happen to be highly capable individuals: creative, hard working, intelligent and passionate. A campaign that lets these sorts of people connect as supporters can tap deep resources unavailable to those that enforces rigid “message discipline,” that sees their would-be citizen-enthusiasts as pawns.
The genius of making empowerment the core of Dean’s candidacy, something that was explicitly made possible by the campaign’s Internet-enabled character, is that it turned the whole operation into an incubator of new leadership rather than a place for conscripts to sign up and wait for their day to be called upon to act (or more likely, to donate money). The grassroots movement growing around Dean's candidacy was decentralized, yet connected. It was in some ways elite, yet very heterogeneous, inclusive and transparent. It was unabashedly idealistic, but also stubbornly pragmatic. It was a nationwide network of individuals grouping together in organic and ad-hoc ways to reclaim responsibility for their country.
These idea of embracing openness, pluralism, participation and interconnectedness have been part of the online culture I’d known for years, and they were definitely a part of the blogging ethic. I’d considered the political implications before as an idealistic student, but pessimistically never expected to see it happen, let alone applied directly to what I felt were the most pressing issues of the day. It was truly thrilling to see theories I believed in become practices I took part in, and to see this praxis generate results, actually working, outperforming the old ways and saving the day in one fell swoop.
It occurred to me that nobody gives a fuck what Judy Woodruff or Wolf Blitzer of even Bill O’Reilly thinks if their friend or neighbor or buddy from high school is telling them what they believe in their hearts and why, and this gave me great joy. We'd just have to scale that kind of peer network out to reach a hundred million people, and the end result would be that we'd have literally taken the country back. Easy, see?
I was participating in a campaign that had as its means and objective the repudiation of the sickly symbiotic system of politics and what remained of the Fourth Estate. We sought to replace what was with a dynamic, network-centric, meritocratic, and above all transparent and fact-based ideal of democracy. It was a deeply American, deeply moral vision. We were right, just as Candidate Dean was right in many statements deemed “gaffes” at the time. Sadly, as we would see, we were also fatally ahead of the curve.
p. I'm curious what the others had to say. While I had a draft of the whole book, reading that kind of material in MS Word doesn't really work, so I didn't do any more than skim the other essays (of which there are many).
Congratz to all the authors, and thanks to Thomas and Zephyr for editing and inviting me to participate, and to Paradigm for publishing the dang thing. There's more information including some additional excerpts here: deaninternetbook.com.