Saturday, November 06, 2004

BloggerCon: Election 2004

Election Day 2004 is being facilitated by Ed Cone.

Ed Cone wrote about Dean Campaign and has been following the evolution of online campaigns. General, session introduction.

The trick isn't just having a weblog: it's leveraging it.

Problems of some is that they started too late and too little. They didn't have time to build a community.

Local politics is where it's happening. Many local folks are using the web to run their campaigns.

Shout outs to the famous campaign-online folks in the room.

The promise of the organizational benefits of the online campaign has not yet been realized in terms of votes.

Comment from the room: Some blog content, but I wanted static content. Things that let me see deep info about the candidate. Got tired of it being replaced by dynamic content.

Cone: What did you see not work? Or work really?

Comment from the room: Political blogs talk at readers instead of involving readers. Thinking about having the community run the campaign. Online scheduling. Let the community decide where the candidate go.

Cone: Blog is a short-hand for a whole suite of tools. The Dean Campaign is the high-water mark for this so far. They organized the hell out of people. Couldn't get the on-line campaign to work with the traditional campaign folks.

Comment from the room: Rural/urban digital divde: in Nevada, driving through rural areas, places like Virginia City -- telling people it would be a great area for WiFi. People said, what? Very slow Internet access. Not only not blogging, not reading blogs. Have a tendancy to talk to ourselves, like an echo-chamber. Somehow, we just forgot about the rural people.

Cone: Can't forget about them where I live. I live in NC. Yes, divide is a problem.

Comment from the room: Dean campaign and online efforts made democracy accessible. Check it out on-line. Ease into politics.

Cone: Then how come he got stomped in Iowa?

Comment from the room: The echo chamber. People said they worked for the campaign but only read the website.

Cone: Email was the most used tool. Remember: election about more than campaign -- MoveOn, organizations, efforts.

Comment from the room: RatherBiased.com (asked by Cone to talk about the use of the web to crucify Dan Rather) Just posted things to fact check Dan Rather. Memogate contributed to the idea that the idea of objective media is lucicrous. Bloggers have been upfront about their politics and reader can judge they are interested.

Cone: Powerline guys quoted in NYT saying that was the most important event of the election. Not just about the campaign blog, about advocacy and the media as well.

Comment from the room: Must distinguish between blogs as a tool of the campaign and the blogosphere and the disaggregated spread of information.

Cone: RatherBiased started in 2000. It takes time to build up community and following. You have to establish a personality and constituency. If you want to use a blog in the next election, start now.

[my reference: Web Politics 2.0]

Cone: Have to get the person working on a campaign blog who stays late, who thinks that blogs are the cat's meow.

Comment from the room: The thing that worked well was when a blog post came with an action item. A way for the reader to do something, react to, the information presented.

Cam Barrett: His perspective on the whole thing is that the campaign voice should be the voice of the candidate or the campaign itself. Every supporter had a blog and so it became a community.

Cone: Clarified that their has to be energy with the blog but it has to be the voice of the campaign.

Cam Barrett: A lot of people thought the Dean blog was the voice of Matt Gross. People began to pay more attention to what Matt Gross had to say and not what Howard Dean had to say. Lose the candidate. Candidate, campaign voice, or open the weblog up to everybody.

Cone: Hard to see why it's wrong for someone to have a strong voice within the campaign.

Cam: No, can't be more important than the campaign. The topic message will be lost.

Scoble: Problem was the disconnect from the bloggers and the candidate. Didn't feel like the bloggers were speaking for the candidate. A blogger is just an amplifier for a message -- however, if the blogger doesn't seem connected what happens. The stars can provide a person to turn to. It isn't happening in politics. Howard Dean wasn't talking through his blog.

Comment from the room: Can blogging scale? I couldn't get through the comments. It becomes a distraction.

Cone: The Dean Blog was a success because it raised attention but maybe it wasn't a success as a blog -- a natural voice communication.

Comment from the room: A campaign picks the alpha bloggers, the voice. And so a disconnect happens between the natural voice and on-message ideas. Takes away from the authenticity of the blog, takes away from the candidate or weblog. Kerry campaign had a blogroll -- pointed to many different views not just Kerry centric. Challenge between campaign blog, alpha bloggers and the tail of the blogosphere (folks with a small local readership). Also, the small blogs often have their own communication strategies.

(on the screen: OrangePolitics.org)

[misssed some comments]

Comment from the room: Blogs didn't help deal with the democrats branding problem.

Cone: Pointed to Richard Burr's site. Put a link to all North Carolina county chairs. Hierarchical organization. Links show that.

Jay Rosen: Told story about DNC. Barack Obama spoke at blogger breakfast and said, I have a blog. Maybe I'll ask for advice. Rosen said, Write it yourself. Obama said, I will when I have an extra 6 hours. So, he doesn't get it. But maybe bloggers don't either. They haven't explained why he should. So how do we get a high level blogger to blog?

Cone: And Obama won't. What his website gave him was national email addresses. And those email addresses can be used to pressure other senators because of the email reaches deep into the nation.

Rosen: But if they blog then they will be doing their other work to. If the blog is real, genuine voice, then they will make a ton of fundraising dollars and leverage from that activity.

Comment from the room: Maybe it's not the candidate who needs to talk. Maybe it's someone who is watching. Who speaks for the voter, the reader. A spirited supporter. Also, the email addresses are incredibly important. Many people believe that Ralph Reed's email list is what won George W. Bush the election.

Cone: Pointed to Carson from Oklahoma. He lost but he stood up on his weblog. Pointed to many different sources of information. Had moments of political courage because of standing up for free speech. He lost but a democrate in heavily republican OK.

Comment from the room: We focus a lot on the campaigns. The candidates don't have time to blog on the campaign. How about before and after? Can candidates blog on the blog of constituency -- like what Lessig did with his weblog. This will allow the candidate to interact with specific communities.

Cone: Pointed to Lessig, talk about inviting John Edwards to blog. How did he do?

Lessig: The first person who came on the site was Dean. And he's who inspired Edwards and others. Kucinich's posts were very Dennis and very real. However, it did feel that Edwards' campaign was framining his voice; took them a long time to agree.

Cone: Frustrated by Edwards unwillingness to engage. However, Elizabeth Edwards was very effective in her use of the blog and specifically comments.

Comment from the room: The politicians who were "blogging" sounded like a press release, like their press release. And that hurts them. Read it once or twice and then never go back because it wasn't authentic. It wasn't the politician's voice. DailyKos did this, however. And pulled others in. Must be an authentic actual voice.

Cone: David Hoggard is blogging now. And, though he hasn't announced it, he is running for office. Again, creating a voice and a campaign. What happened to MeetUp, MoveOn? What happened to all the things that were going to change politicians? (from the room) How about the exit polls?

Comment from the room: Donations based on posts.

Cone: Also, important. Blogging during the government.

Comment from the room: All this is focused on the campaign. Instead, blog about the issues. Build up a body of real stuff in between the campaign. And then the campaign, election will just be a side-effect of all of this body of issue and change. For example, Lessig runs an effective blog for change and stepping into a candidate role would be easy (not a comment on Lessig actually running for office)

Comment from the room: What are blogs famous for? Trent Lott. RatherGate. Keeping Bush's activities in front of people. That's what blogs are really good at. Impact of the blog has been to raise irrelevant points that end up being very important in the election. Blogs do not necessarily raise the level of the debate. For example, health care is a big issue. Where does that pop up on DailyKos?

Cone: Again, maybe get a candidate to blog on an issue specific blog.

Comment from the room: Politics is better at controlling information than disseminating it. A campaign controls the message, candidates time. All carefully controlled. Especially a presidential campaign. When talking about candidate blogging, talking about a new kind of candidates. Candidates are good at working a room, network. Not writing. That's not necessarily what they do. What MeetUp, email did, changed the way that campaigns get run. Cycle moves much faster.

Cone: Meetup, important. Now exit polls.

Comment from the room: Did the exit polls change your perception of who was going to win? Most people know that news before 8pm (pst) is all crap.

Scott Rosenberg: Exit polls are inside baseball trivia. Elephant in the room: +/-50 million people found WMDs in Iraq. In the process of dismantling authorities, however, we are in a time when the adminstration is creating its own reality. What authorities can be built up? All this informational fire power and there is vital information that isn't out there.

Cone: Maybe without weblogs, only 10% would know that there were no WMDs in Iraq.

Comment from the room: Two models: broadcast model and distributed model. Republicans have distributed models -- for example churches. And, with the Republicans, their distributed amplifiers are willing to stay on message. Is that true for the Democrats? Must be willing to do the hard work of building grassroots networks. Republican used existing local grassroots organizations. How can a community on the web create a lot of value and have election be an outgrowth?

Cone: Points to Rebecca MacKinnon.

Rebecca MacKinnon: How can you bring these tools to existing organizations so that they can be more effective? Rather than create new organizations, how do you help exisitng orgs trap their networks and extend and amplify using weblogs and these other tools? How do you do that when the orgs aren't necessarily wired and tech saavy.

Lessig: One of the biggest problems was how difficult it was to persuade people on the other side. One of the promise of blogs was getting past this. However, blogs have the problem of the echo chambers. Both broadcasting and villages force you to confront ideas you don't want to hear, agree with.

Cone: Points to Zack Rosen.

Zack Rosen: Working on tools to help connect networks and amplify them. Works on CivicSpace Labs. Creates value by working on the baseline functionality they need: donation, email lists, etc. And then pour the additional outreach tools on top of that.

Comment from the room: A Bush supporter, this supposedly non-partisan conversation is really about if we'd had better tools and used them better we would have won more. Maybe that isn't the right discussion. Because this represents slightly less than half of the country. The assumption is that the only way the Republicans won was by lying and cheating.

Cone: Haven't heard that. This is about how the web deals with propogating issues. An excellent point: the best tech in the world isn't going to get Howard Dead to win.

(more back and forth on above)


(in: bloggercon, conferences, weblogs, election_2004, politics)