Nation-Building >> technology innovation in the netroots | return to front page

"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

Add to Google Reader or Homepage Subscribe in Bloglines Subscribe in NewsGator Online Add to netvibes

website stats

Previous Posts
Netflix, Inc.
ThinkGeek T-Shirts will make you cool!
illy coffee - 2 cans, 2 mugs for just $26.

Monday, December 04, 2006


technology innovation in the netroots

posted by Aziz P. at Monday, December 04, 2006 permalink View blog reactions
I've left a lengthy comment at myDD about the lack of technology innovation in the liberal blogsphere. I hope it stimulates some discussion. I've reproduced it below teh fold, as well.

Was there a technology forum? It seems to me that the biggest millstone around our necks is that for the most part we haven't progressed beyond MoveableType and Wordpress for the vast majority of sites. DK (and to a lesser extent, myDD) push the envelope with respect to community building, and are embracing Web 2.0 stuff like tagging, but the barrier to entry for a small blogger to use the platform tools such as Scoop (plus the custom mods) is too high. And tagging hasnt been leveraged in any meaningful sense - its good practice, but we arent exploiting it in any sense. I think that the only real example of any innovation has been ActBlue, and that is of course money orinted, which is essential bit also serves just to emphasize the "netroots = ATM" meme among the establishment.

There are a number of new technologies that in my view are poorly utilized and which would if leveraged well essentially act as force-multipliers. Instead of using new web tools to build links between blogs and knit together the progressive blogsphere into a larger whole, its evolved into isolated silos. Theresa huge DK silo over there, a myDD silo over here, Atrios over there, etc. These silos link occassionally to smaller fry but theres no routine system for "mining the long tail". As such we have a fragmented message. I dont advocate top-down message coordination as is on the right, but i think that we dont facilitate the rise of "idea bubbles" from below that well either. Diaries at DK used to be good for this but its just too big. There has to be better ways.

Here's an example of a better way (though not the ONLY way!): Look at how I deployed a "real-time link carnival" for the Islamic blogsphere. The idea is that good links form small blogs can be promoted and disseminated widely and simultaneously on all the bigger blogs. A universal sidebar of sorts.

Another example is polling technology. There's no reason we cant build a truly scientific (email-verified) system for online polling. Why play the "freep this poll" game when we can set the agenda ourselves? And again it has to be meta - not the privince of a single blog but able to be spread horizontally across silos. I'm not the poll expert around here but I am sure that Bowers, Stoller et al can think of flaws in present online metods and also of oppostunities that come with having our own system. I will note however that online polls have the potential to be MORE scientific than phone-driven ones, since the sample size is potentailly larger. And yeah there wil be correlations with income and whatnot given the online selection, but these can be removed with moderately sophisticated statistical analysis: we have a lot of scientists in our community and we science types account for confounds al the time. That such advanced math is largely absent from polling analysis seems odd to me. MAybe we could even fund a reserach fellow for a year to look into this further. It would only take about 40k.

There are numerous other technology avenues we could pursue. For example, packaging audio from multiple liberal analysts and bloggers into a weekly podcast that we could then deliver to NPR or local public radio venues. Or funding a project to create a new API that integrates any blog RSS feed with a Wiki (analogous to Jotspot, but more universal). Or actually trying to bridge the gap between wikis and tags, or unifying the concept of forums and blogs. Or bridging from RSS to mobile phones and text messaging services.

Suppose all my ideas above were reality in 18 months. It would give us a massive advantage over the rightside in 08. And thats just scracthing teh surface with a bunch of ideas I pulled out of my ass. Imagine what a panel of technology advocates coudl come up with, given the opportunity.


Agreed entirely. And as backward as the political blogosphere is, it's moved way beyond the history blogosphere, in which I partake, and most other subject-oriented blogospheres.


Post a Comment


View blog top tags
The Assault on Reason

Obama 2008 - I want my country back

I want my country back - Obama 2008

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.