Politics 3.0 29


I had an epiphany yesterday while talking to my ultra-hip cousin who lives in Harlem and is a big Obama supporter. We were discussing how it is that the traditional corporate media outlets continue to act as if today’s Internet is still stuck in 2004. How they continue to offer their Orwellian take on reality as if most people don’t compare the corporate narrative to the common narrative found and nurtured online.

They clearly don’t get us or IT. (Information Technology to those who are acronym challenged.)

Politics 2.0 (mirrored by Web 2.0) arrived in the form of Howard Dean’s candidacy in 2004 and the huge grassroots movement it inspired. The evolving social networks were still in their infancy. Bloggers and blogging sites were still developing the technology and processes by which this new medium would operate. Internet users were still in the process of navigating these new information sources, bonding with peers and sharpening their rhetorical blades for the battles to come.

It wasn’t enough to drown out the corporate media’s echo chamber, though, as they painted Howard Dean as that year’s lunatic-fringe candidate. It wasn’t enough to lift an electable populist over a marginal centrist. It wasn’t enough to encourage millions of new people to turn out and make Ohio an impossibility through the weight of shear numbers.

It wasn’t enough then, but four years later, an eon in Internet time, and the environment is totally new.

Politics 3.0 has arrived in the form of multiple revolutions in broadband access, computing power, social networking & blogging sites and convergence media technology combined with wide-spread acceptance of the online world as having as much, if not more, credibility as traditional broadcast media. We now have instant access to dozens of sources to double-check every factoid offered up by the press or pundits. We know multiple people online who bring new levels of understanding to just about any debate with multiple references of their own. People that we trust because we have verified their references in the past and found them to be accurate. Reality has a context and a nuance that the corporate media can never deliver – like watching a movie with no sound.

It’s a brave new world four years after the 2004 debacle, and I believe Aldus Huxley would be pleasantly surprised.

I just finished reading Malcom Gladwell’s The Tipping Point. In it he speaks about the nature of epidemics and how they are started. How are they spread? Who is responsible? What does an epidemic, a viral message, look like? It looks like the current evolution of the Internet. The reason I think Gladwell’s book applies so uniquely to what we are seeing is the role that peers play online. The peer role in social networks and blogging sites is every bit as important as to who you listen to (and more importantly believe) in real life.

My cousin and I were discussing how we used to hear something on TV and the gut reaction was skepticism. Something about that statement just doesn’t feel right. But it’s only been the last few years that you might have already heard and researched a dozen differing views of that story by the time you hear it for the hundredth on the corporate media. In fact, the reasons most of us hear anything the corporate media has to say these days is by seeing it on sites like Talking Points Memo or in the first place. They are the gateway to information for a growing number of Internet users.

Barack Obama and the team he has assembled clearly understand the Internet and the changing environment ushered in by Politics 3.0. They understand how to communicate their message through the white noise created by the corporate media. They know that more people will go to the BarackObama.com YouTube page to get confirmation of something they saw on CNN than to take that erroneous information at face value as in years past.

Barack gets us and IT. I have high expectations of an Obama Administration because of the level of understanding he clearly has. What’s more is we have a directive from the man himself that the election is only the first step in this process. There is no more luxury of voting every four years and then going back to sleep. We have Congressional representatives that need virtual and literal foots in their asses to get this legislation written and passed. There are corporate special interests that need to be replaced by citizen special interests. There are a million and I things that need to be done that no one man can do alone.

Having a president who understands how technology can weave us together to face and overcome those challenges as a united front.  We certainly live in interesting and exciting times.

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29 thoughts on “Politics 3.0

  • BH

    Recommend. Not only do you correctly credit Dean for starting the ball rolling on the whole internet grass-roots phenomenon, but you’re also absolutely correct that Obama has taken it to a new level.

    Even though I hate the whole Web2.0 (and especially Web3.0) buzzword.

    • JasonEverettMiller

      Thanks for the recommendation!

      I know. Those terms are tired already, though easy to understand given how software is labeled for the masses. But aren’t so many of our common definitions are tired by now? Like buzzword?

      I really see the 3.0 revolution being less about the technology and more about the user. Even more so than earlier incarnations, the user will drive the rapid application development with this new organic product life-cycle. But there are also the added dimensions of user-generated content. richer interactive content and our conversation right now.

      I feel the web’s evolution to be more of a reflection of how we are evolving as a society, connecting to more people at a pretty deep level that somehow still remains entirely casual.

      But I hear you on being sick of our need for catch phrases and slogans to dumb-down broad concepts for mass consumption. I believe people are ready for a deeper conversation.

      Which is why Barack is winning.

        • JasonEverettMiller

          Yeah, which is why TPM looks the way it does – sleek and understated with integrated technogical goodies that keep their users happy.

          It is also why my site looks the way it does: http://www.metamorphosismedia.com. We purposely moved far away from gels of any sort. Though, I don’t really remember all that many good sites ever following that as a design style.

          Less is certainly more complex in the 3.0 environment.

  • ☠enghis

    I say that Obama’s genius was to combine the internet with traditional grassroots organization. Dean got the money online, but he didn’t have the people on the ground. Obama created a national movement that combined online communication and fund raising with campaign offices and armies of volunteers across the country. I still don’t think that the Clinton campaign quite realizes what hit them. And if Clinton was caught flat-footed, I expect McCain and the Republican party, who are even more out of touch, to be left in the dust, despite having now had the opportunity to see the Obama campaign in action.

    • ondioline

      One thing I love about the GOP: They’re still taking for granted that the old ways of beating a Democrat are going to work. It has extended to a great deal of the thinking on the left, unfortunately. How many times, for example, have you heard HRC’s supporters parrot something to the effect of “Well, there’s no way _______ will go blue in this election”? Suuuuuure… Just like there was no way this race would still be alive after Super Tuesday, right?

      The whole “bitter” “controversy” is also emblematic of this… The media got too far ahead of the story in an effort to shape it without realizing that people just might not care about it that much. They didn’t account for the possibility that Hillary’s $5m loan to her campaign and the tax return revelations would seriously blunt her ability to convince anyone that a fresh-faced basketball playing Senator from South-side Chi-town is somehow more “elite” than her…

      And Barack is also unique. The Annie Oakley thing and the “dirt off the shoulder” gesture from yesterday are so “new school”… He adapts and uses humor to deflect blows better than just about any candidate I’ve seen. It would have been nice to see more of it in the face of the ABC trainwreck the other night, but that seems to be reflecting more strongly on ABC than on Barack.

      • Tom Wright

        He might have found the right balance. If he is too relaxed about the junk questioning he makes it seem OK, and he looks like a chump to take it, past a certain point.

        While it is wise to avoid conveying disrespect to voters, it has worked for conservatives to convey such about the media. And if any channel needed grim disapproval, ABC did.

  • HusseinTenaX

    Having a president who understands how technology can weave us together to face and overcome those challenges as a united front. We certainly live in interesting and exciting times.

    Someone made that point in an endorsement recently. I wish I could remember who.

    It’s true. Look – he’s the future – any way you slice it – compared to either of the others. Hillary is the doyenne of a creaking political dynasty that is so linked to the Bush Dynasty at this point that they both need to go down together. Enough.

    McCain – who has to say any more than that? He’s older than God’s great aunt. I think that’s who he’s married to as a matter of fact.

    • artappraiser

      I keep seeing variations of the “McCain IS old as methuselah” joke and I think it’s pretty clueless.

      I really don’t think it’s going to play well in this day and age, especially for those youngins who think the retirement age of 65 should be raised because they don’t want to be paying Social Security for a lot of healthy people in their 60’s and 70’s, since life expectancy has gone way up since FDR’s days. Mho, it is not going to play well with many age groups, but rather, make the joke-maker look clueless.

      He’s 71.

      Find something else to make fun of about him, it’s simply not that funny because it doesn’t pass the recognition test that humor needs.

      His mother, now there’s someone that the joke would work against.

      • artappraiser

        I just looked it up, there’s 23 Senators older than him, it’s amazing they’ve all managed to stay alive, including that Obama pal, Ted Kennedy, who is 76. Boy, do you think there’s some censorship of the internet in Massachusetts, that they don’t know his age, they keep voting for the walking dead?

        Or how about that Warren Buffett guy, sheesh 77, just looked it up. Think we should listen to him on raising taxes on the wealthy, he must be senile? And that George Soros guy, wow, another 77 year old! Thinking he can meddle in liberal politics, my gawd, the horror, he’s really gonna mess things up! Liberals should run in fear of his crotchedyness….

  • eamseneca

    I agree with your post. I think Obama’s campaign will be looked at in 10-20 years as the first “modern” campaign (Howard Dean’s will be pre-modern) for exactly the reasons you identify. The most encouraging development of 2008 is the drastic decline in the power of TV stations and newspapers to influence public opinion.

    Obama is the first major beneficiary.

    Excellent work.

    • artappraiser

      Er, ok, but then how come he’s spending a lot of internet donations on television advertising?

      Quick example from March 31:

      Democrat Barack Obama outspent Clinton 5 to 1 on the Pennsylvania airwaves, spending roughly $2 million to Clinton’s $400,000, according to Evan Tracey of the Campaign Media Analysis Group.

      Obama was on the air several days ahead of Clinton and has been running more ads than his rival on a daily basis. Obama also put television ads in circulation in North Carolina and Indiana late last week, and Clinton has yet to answer in either state, Tracey said.

      I dunno about a lot of the points on this thread, you haven’t convinced me. I really must stay that there’s not a lot of proof to the claims here, seems to me just a lot of making stuff up to convince yourselves something different is going on from previous campaigns. His own speechwriters claim they look to the past for inspiration….

      • readytoblowagasket

        Thank you, artappraiser. Of course I would have said the original post was self-important, self-congratulatory, and self-referential. But you’re a lot nicer than I am. 😉

        • JasonEverettMiller

          We mock what we don’t understand. It is quite clear from your many sarcastic posts that you understand very little.

      • BH

        Well, not everyone’s on the internet yet, for one thing. Additionally, some of that money being spent on “Television” advertising is for generating spots that play on both TV and the internet. We’re definitely still in a transitional state where he needs to play both games (and will be for another few election cycles, I’d guess). However, he’s definitely shown the power of the internet when it comes to raising money and rallying his supporters. Whether he’s used it effectively to get new supporters is probably still debatable.

        • Allsburg

          Well, Allsburg, that’s easy for you to say, but I think the internet sucks, almost as much as Obama. That’s right, I said it: you can quote me: Ben Hocking hates Obama and the internet. I’m just a modern-day luddite. Give me a wrench and I’ll take the whole system down.

        • littleblackpropaganda

          I absolutely agree with you. I made this same point a few weeks ago in response to an equally enthusiastic post. Here are the facts: between 10% and 15% of the people are not online; a third of the people use dial-up. About half of us have “high speed.” These numbers don’t correlate to actual users (e.g. a family of 4 has high-speed, but only the kids actually use it). Also, under a quarter of us (and I believe this is being generous) get our news online. A giant majority of the people get their news from television, radio, newspapers, etc. And this is not to mention those who do not pay any attention at all.

          • JasonEverettMiller

            Again, this all in its infancy and in transition. Picture TV in the 1950s compared to today.

            If such small numbers of people on-line can have the affect we are seeing (ripples of information that make it from Internet junkies to their extended networks and beyond, many who aren’t on-line yet still become part of the counter-narrative) then just think of what will happen when 50 or 75 percent reach the Internet with wireless broadband connections.

            We’re almost to that Tipping Point, and when this one tips, the world will not be the same.

      • JasonEverettMiller

        I will leave you with this question:

        If not for the Internet, how does a 46-year-old black man who is the junior senator from a medium-sized mid-western state come from near obscurity a year ago to take down one of the most sophisticated and entrenched political machines since Tammany Hall?

        I know that unless one is trained in all the nitty-gritty details of how the Internet works and where the technology is going both strategically and virally that some of these concepts are a little esoteric. I would say the only proof that I need is in the results of Barack’s campaign. He clearly understands technology and has a team that does as well.

  • laurajordan

    Thanks for the great post, Jason.

    One of the things that immediately intrigued me about Obama was his forward-looking proposals for using IT for political and governing purposes–both with an eye toward empowering the grassroots. I found myself thinking (for the first time in my life): now, this could really change the way political power is distributed.

    His big, future-focused thinking appealed to me more than the vision expressed by the other candidates.

    • JasonEverettMiller

      Great points. I didn’t even touch on is transitioning Politics 3.0 into a Government 3.0 concept that use IT as a way to make a more responsive and personalized government possible as it never has been before.

  • elf

    There’s no question the online organization of his campaign has been good, especially fruitful moneywise and in terms to GOTV and voter registration projects. And the fact of the matter is that it does no good to raise lots of money and then have no way to use it to improve the chances of getting elected.

    So anyone who wants to get elected is going to turn that money to the conventional processes – voter registration and GOTV.

    From there, it’s an open book. Will he be able to keep the energies of all these folks, not just us, but also all those newly registered voters, coordinated to bring about substantive change?

    Quite honestly, I predict that it will turn out that getting elected was the easy part.

    Governing for change is going to be an order of magnitude harder.

    • JasonEverettMiller

      I totally agree that raising money and getting people to the polls is only the first step. Based on turn-out this year, he seems to have conquered the first problem – turning on-line genius into grassroots movement.

      Your second point is also very important and I believe this is where he campaign gives us real clues into how his coming administration might govern. As he used technology to change how an outsider can run for president within the existing system, he can use technology to circumvent the corporate media and their biased story-lines that have perverted the business of government by big business interests.

      He can take his case to the people directly. Again, this simply breaks all know paradigms of political communications and activism.

      If he can make the transition you speak of, I think he will come to be known as the president who finally delivered on the promise of our system of government. Representative Republics only work if the people back home are ready to pounce on any misdeed by their folks in DC.

      Representative government only works if there is accountability, otherwise we may as well have an aristocracy.

  • DF

    The real question is this: Will Politics 3.0 utilize the emerging synergy between integrated systems infrastructure and parallel hybrid architecture in order to provide adaptive solutions implementations in real time?

    • littleblackpropaganda

      Is Robin doomed?

      Those crocodiles look mighty hungry-
      was Tut right?

      They’d soon be having a tasty dinner?

      Or was he merely sheddding crocodile tears?

      Above all, will Batman arrive before the boy wonder’s perch slides away?

      Tune in your Batsets tomorrow, same time, same channel.

    • JasonEverettMiller

      Um.

      You just went outside my knowledge-level. I am guessing that what you mean in English is:

      Will we use the computing power of integrated technologies that exist in all of our products combined with the more adaptive technology of on-line networks to provide a next-generation Internet that interacts with our personal systems to provide immediate changes based on how we use it?

      That is when we start approaching Artificial Intelligence on an order made popular in science fiction, the point where fantasy becomes reality.

      I guess it totally depends on the type of books and films you enjoy as to which future that technological vision entails – Minority Report, 2001: A Space Odyssey or The Terminator?

  • acanuck

    Last week, as an experiment, I visited the official websites of the three presidential candidates.
    On his, John McCain put up one blog post a day, with fewer than 100 viewer comments on average, dipping to a low of 34.
    Hillary did better, with three posts for the day I visited, April 11. Total viewer comments: about 350.
    Obama’s site is all airy and inviting, with that soothing blue background he uses as his trademark: blue skies ahead, I suppose. Interactive maps and news scrolls — all in all, a really professionally designed, state-of-the-art site. It took a while to load; it’s massive.
    His had something like eight posts (including video clips) for April 11, plus an overnight open thread for the insomniac Obamaniacs. I added up the viewer-visitor comments for that 24-hour period: roughly 6,500.
    So Obama is engaging his supporters at almost TWENTY times the rate Hillary is.
    He handily beats his two opponents both on the stump and in cyberspace.
    If Democrats lack the brains to rally behind this guy, they deserve whatever happens to their party.
    Unfortunately, the country and the world would also pay a hefty price.

    • JasonEverettMiller

      That’s great evidence of what I was talking about – an unprecedented understanding of how a huge swath of the electorate is communicating and organizing themselves both on- and off-line.

      I have actually come to a bit of calm realization that if we stay focused and diligent and a little bit addicted to the political process this year we will finally see the change we have been hoping for these past 40 years. This year isn’t a wasted effort with this candidate. We can’t lose if we don’t lose hope and don’t give in to the cynics.

      The key is our involvement and participation was so elegantly streamlined and refined via the web by Barack Obama. I think both McCain and Hillary still don’t understand what has happened, a lack of understanding that explains why they are losing.

      I love irony.