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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Saturday, February 14, 2004


Joe Trippi's Moved On

posted by Aziz P. at Saturday, February 14, 2004 permalink View blog reactions
Joe Trippi is why Dean's principled message found a wider audience. No other reason. His influence on DFA is what provided the catalyst for DFA's influence upon the entire Democratic primary. I will always have a profound respect for Joe and hope that I actually get to meet him in person - until then, I'll have to settle for the occassional meeting online (link above goes to a comment Joe just left on Dean Nation).

Since leaving DFA, Joe started his own blog at ChangeForAmerica. It's missing some important blogs from its blogroll, ahem, ahem :) but it already has a number of posts and will likely be where Joe fleshes out his views and advice on the role of the internet in politics.

To be honest, I have a number of critiques and disagreements with the conventional wisdom about how the internet factored into Dean's campaign. Probably the single biggest one was that the official blog ended up being more a hindrance than a help, because it actually short-circuited the influence that the independent Dean-sphere (especially Dean Nation) had upon the campaign. Prior to the O-Blog, Joe posted here regularly, and we had a real sense that the campaign was watching us and paying attention (our best success being the promotion of Meetup). However, once the O-blog debuted, the focus on the external blogs seemed to diminish. We never did get a response to our Dean Nation Interview, our critiques of campaign decisions such as the quality of the ad campaign were not acknowledged let alone addressed, and there was never any real attempt by the camnpaign to leverage the ritical mass it had built during the boom-time of Dean's front-runnerhood. Some of the things that could have been done: a real visit by Dean himself to the blog or the Zonkboard, actual posts by the campaign here, a Slashdot Interview with the 10 highest-moderated questions answered by Dean (or Joe), and most importantly, a Scoop-run site to create a real community of independent thinkers (as Kos has pioneered). My sources from within the campaign say that there was a determined push to move to Scoop by several of the technology advisors within the campaign, but it was rejected. That's probably the biggest missed opportunity of all.

Insread, the o-blog became a simple translation of normal fund-raising appeals and campaign updates to the medium of the web rather than newsletter or mailing. The huge email list was used in exactly the same way as a snail-mail list, even though email as a medium is so much richer in potential - imagine if there had been actual policy debates (moderated) with Dean himself weighing in?

The o-blog was a good way to build readers, but ity could not sustain an active discussion or debate of the kind required for true ChangeForAmerica. In fact, ANY blog-model of front-page posts followed by linear comments is inherently flawed in exactly the same way. What is needed for a true seed of something new is a way fpor all participants to have an active voice, and the community as a whole able to collectively moderate its own ideas upwards on merit.

Here's something that I want to see: a comment system like Haloscan that allows for user registration, and moderated threading like at Slashdot or Kuro5hin or Kos. But that still isn't as good as a true Slash/Scoop system which provides a mechanism for a "comment" to actually graduate to a full-fledged fromnt-page post, all by the collective action of the community itself.

I'll be watching Joe's blog, but running on MT (or blogger, for that matter) is at present a route to the status quo. Real Change is going to require the next generation of internet community-building, as well as a larger comitment from the principal politicians to cede control to the grassroots in a real sense, not the essentially illusory way that the O-blog did.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.