More on Internet Empowerment
This is a good follow-on to the bit I quoted from _Air Guitar_ earlier. Someone at PBS had the brains to interview my former comrade Zephyr Teachout to talk about the internets and politics this cycle, comparing and contrasting Dean For America with The Ron Paul Revolution. It's an extremely good interview:
NOW: Could you talk about how that sense of connection to the candidate is determined by the way the campaign treats them?
ZT: I could answer to two real possibilities with politics on the Internet. One is that you use the Internet as a massive and really effective marketing tool. You build massive databases, you learn everything you can about the people in those databases, you figure out exactly how they can be useful to your campaign, and you ask them to donate money, door-knock, the virtual equivalent of being a sort of army of stamp lickers.
And you may be useful as a supporter in such a campaign. But you're not gonna have a pretty deep identification in the campaign. It's clear that you're taking your marching orders from Hillary Clinton or Mitt Romney. That they have figured out how you can be useful.
The other latent possibility is that it enables groups of people to come together—offline and online, outside of the campaign, do their own scheming, do their own thinking, and take real responsibility for the strategy and the policy of the candidate or group that you're supporting.
Almost all the candidates, this cycle, have tended strongly towards the managerial use of the Internet.
And you come to those as a citizen, and you feel like, "This is very nicely done and I don't belong here." There's no role for me as a thinking creative person. There's a role for me as a supporter, that's it. And you come to Ron Paul world and there are real calls for help. "We desperately need visibility in this part of New Hampshire, and we don't know how to do it." And that expresses itself in a 1,000 ways. In the tone, in Ron Paul's sort of, "Gee whiz, ah shucks," manner. "Wow, you guys are great, help me out a little more."
Instead of, "I've figured out everything. Don't think too hard, 'cause we've got some really smart people on the task. Just go to this door."
And it's very satisfying to feel like you are being treated as a smart person. As a citizen. As somebody who might actually know more about New Hampshire—because you've lived there for 30 years—than the campaign.
I would quote more and longly, but if you're at all interested in this stuff, you really should just read the whole thing.