Rapid recontextualisations make my head hurt. Nonetheless today I’m not in Los Angeles having fun with friends in drag. Today instead I’m watching Joe Trippi talking about American politics and the consequences and effects of the Dean’s internet-enabled online fund-raising and campaigning tools. The basic conclusions of his talk are quite simple:
- Broadcast media was supposed to give people greater access to democracy, but instead it’s failed us completely;
- All it meant was that to persuade people in the country, candidates had to go to the people with the real money in order to buy screen-time;
- Let no one believe that campaigning isn’t about the money – it is;
- We have to give the ownership of politics back to the people;
- The only medium that can restore that ownership back to the people – both in terms of getting funds raised from the grass-roots and getting home-grown organisation happening among the people – is the internet;
- If the people are paying for the campaign then special interests have less impact;
- The tools weren’t there a couple of years ago, but they are now;
- The press are describing the Dean campaign’s online strategies as a failure – as a ‘dot-com crash’;
- But how can it be? They raised an enormous amount of money from the grass-roots, and a year ago Dean was absolutely nowhere.
- That now we have to find new tools in order to help this kind of people-owned democracy happen in the future.
The weirdest part of the session was the pretty-much standing ovation at the end of the event that revealed the whole thing to be (as suspected) pretty much more of a political rallying speech towards the web community than a descriptive or didactic piece. Nonetheless, some interesting insights in amongst the passion.
One thing that did occur to me, though, was whether or not – given the importance of money to politics – the BBC could possibly think about adding a fund-raising tool into iCan. I can imagine the outrage that could surround that, but it would be tremendously interesting and useful to have an independent arbiter displaying nothing but statistical information about candidates and political parties and then helping to actually engage the general public by allowing people to donate money directly to a campaign.
Another thing was how useful UpMyStreet Conversations could be in terms of poltical campaigning (or at least political organisation). I think I might have to introduce the concept into the proceedings at some point. It’s not a system that would necessarily work terribly well in the US – given that their ZIP code system is so radically different from UK Postal Codes – but in principle I think it could be a tremendously useful mechanism for getting campaigners in contact with one another, for advertising and promoting events and for having local discussions about policy. [Although I guess if it was possible, someone might have done it already, given the fact that apparently Clay Shirky introduced Al Gore to the site a year or so ago].
Addendum: Please forgive me for the obvious and rampant discontinuity of posting styles – drag-act nurse babes (hey Sean) and American Politics / technology may not be obvious bedfellows. Although come to think of it, I’m sure there are associations and relationships that could be drawn between the two…