Digital democracy teach-in

While I remain largely skeptical about the prospects for digital democracy,
there have been some interesting developments in recent months -- the
success of, the flurry of activity around Howard Dean's Internet
centered campaign, the use of the Net to mobilize tens of millions in
opposition to the war in Iraq, etc.

Here's a report on the Digital Democracy Teach-in held in early February.


Former Howard Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi started off the day with the claim that "the political press could never figure out what the Dean campaign was. Now they feel qualified to comment on whether what it did worked." Much of his session, "Down from the Mountain: My Experience with the Dean Campaign," was targeted at broadcast media and the resulting political tactics.

He said, "Let's take the scream tape: it wasn't news, it was entertainment. It was the heat-seeking missile footage hitting its target. That really was damaging -- not what the governor did but the media's portrayal of it out of context. They are now apologizing."

Trippi argued, "Broadcast politics has failed the country miserably. You had no debate going into war, no debate about the Patriot Act. That debate isn't happening anywhere except on the Net."

He explained that the roots of broadcast politics go back 40 years. "In the 1960s, with the Nixon-Kennedy debate, people should have realized that television was going to change everything in American politics. It became a race for money and for one-way communications. How do I find a rich guy writing a $200K check and buy time with it?"

. . . . .

According to Trippi, "We have a communications problem. The political press has no clue what this Internet community is about. The Internet community doesn't really understand the hard, cold realities of American politics."

. . . . .

[LW: Yes, but politics on the Internet does make us feel so warm and fuzzy
and involved and effective and shaking the power structure and changing
the world for the better and so virtually virtuous ....]