The post-lunch session at BloggerCon IV was led by Lance Knobel, focusing on poltics and blogging.
In the nature of an unconference like BloggerCon, the approach to the topic will be protean, not fixed. But I think the starting point for the politics discussion will be to examine whether and how blogging and other new participatory media can make a positive contribution to the 2008 national election in the US. There’s a real risk that these great tools will just make negative, attack politics more potent. I don’t think it has to be that way.
The other foundation of the discussion should be understanding what the next great shift might be. I recently had a discussion with a leading political consultant who said one very perceptive thing: “The Dean campaign did something truly innovative and new in 2004. But if anyone thinks the next step is to do that, only better, they’re missing the real opportunity.” What’s exciting is that I don’t think anyone has a clear idea yet of what that next revolution might entail. BloggerCon IV will be a wonderful platform for that discussion.
Some notes from Lance's opening remarks: Modern elections are about mass market techniques. Blogging might in part bring politics into a more retail era, with more engagment with the individual. Blogging or any technology is neutral to ideology...it depends on the use. How should politicians get involved in authentic and positive ways that engage people, he asked. Dean proved you can use the Internet to make money, but also proved doesn't deliver vote, which is conventional wisdom among political operatives.
Mark Glaser of PBS says that according a report by the Bivings Group, a Washinton D.C. PR firm, only 5 percent of campaigns have podcasts, while 23 percent have blogs.
General concensus is that the right wing bloggers are more in lockstep, and more effective, than left wing bloggers. Doc Searls rails against the notion of A list bloggers, and said that he doesn't do party politics. Blogs are good at unpacking issues and nuances, he added.
Jeremy Pepper talks about the Republicans doing a better job than Democrats in the blogging world. Cash rules he said, and money will flow through blogs and communities who will be trained to work in the blogosphere.
The approach from the John Edwards campaign is, unlike what you see in mainstream media, to have a conversation with people via blogs, podcasts and vlogs, said Ryan Montoya, who is on the Edwards team. Edwards isn't totally ghost written and his wife also posts on the blog.
Mike Arrington from TechCrunch, echoing Dave Winer, said don't rely on others to make the world a better place. Mike said he would vote for Edwards, who he called a likely VP candidate, and that the candidate should not be spending his time answering video blogs. He should be a lot busier than that, Mike said. "I'm more interested in having him think about what he's going to say in his own voice in a personal way. The first who does that has the best chance of being successful."
Britt Bravo said that personal connection is missing. She listens to freshman Senator Barak Obama's podcasts, making a connection. He's in my head, and he breaks down the issues and chats them up a language I understand, she said.
Jay Rosen, Jory Des Jardins and Buzz Bruggerman
Blogging has the potential to disrupt the system of elites and masses, Jay Rosen said. The elites control politics, the media carries the message to the masses. "The whole set of images and metaphors is potentially disrupted by the Internet and blogging," he explained. "Those vested in the model of elites and masses will try to put blogging into that model."
He gave the example of Barak Obama learning the power of blogging is in his own voice, doing his own podcasts. "The mere adopting of blogging doesn't necessarily get anyone out of the elite and masses system," Rosen said. "The threat of blogging represents is to the people who have controlled politics, those who think their knowledge is the only real knowledge....the pollsters and those who read the polls...that is slowly what's coming undone."