The open source process is transforming politics before our eyes.
The latest example is the Macintosh 1984 mash-up produced against Hillary Clinton by an anonymous supporter of Barack Obama. At last count it had been viewed over 1.3 million times, making it far more popular than any ad produced so far this cycle.
Political pros are noticing. The ad cost Obama nothing, either to produce or to run. It was created anonymously, by a YouTube user who dubbed themselves ParkRidge47 (Clinton was born in the Chicago suburb of ParkRidge, Ill. in 1947).
There are suspicions this is just a cover story. Conspiracy theories are now being chewed over by the media. People with online experience seem convinced by the viral nature of its distribution this was neither an Obama nor a GOP production. On CNN Obama denied knowledge of it. The quality of the production leads me to suspect Hollywood had something to do with it.
How much has this changed the game? Recent polls give Clinton a double-digit lead over Obama. If those results remain the same in the next month, this may be much ado about nothing.
But the ad, and the buzz surrounding it, do point to some truths about open source politics. Creativity trumps financial power. The best ads do play on our fears. What good does it do to have an enormous financial advantage if the best TV ad of the cycle cost nothing? When the work of some anonymous schmoe trumps the work of highly-paid campaign consultants, why depend on them?
My view is these are early days. I have covered online politics since 1996 and my kids, who have the Web in their earliest memories, are nearly grown now. This campaign revolution will not be televised. And it is beyond the power of anyone to control or predict.