January 16, 2004

'Kossacks Unite!

Don't know why I haven't really read Daily Kos, but Byrd's Brain's recent entry piqued my interest with mention of this profile in the San Francisco Chronicle:

Web forum shapes political thinking/Dean consultant in Berkeley builds 'blog' into influential tool

From his bungalow in Berkeley, he's spreading the word of grassroots netocracy to the Beltway. He formed an Internet political consulting firm with Jerome Armstrong, a fellow blog visionary who works from a computer in Burlington, Vt. They already have several big-name clients, although Dean is the only one whose name they will make public.

"The blogosphere is going to play a huge role in this election," Moulitsas said. "A lot of bloggers say we're not that important. I say we're that important."

That bit is the very end of the article. It overplays the 'net's influence, as usual, but it's an interesting profile nonetheless. Go read the entire article if you have the time.

Posted by ronn at January 16, 2004 10:41 PM

If the blog is gonna have an impact on the election (regardless of how much of an impact) what happens to those on the other side of the digital divide? Those who have no idea what a blog is? I guess the response is that the divide grows greater Posted by: Tai on January 17, 2004 10:09 AM
My immediate response is "What digital divide?!" If people can spend $100s on clothes for Xmas, Easter and Mother's Day, they can afford to buy a cheap ass, stripped down computer for > $500 at CompUSA, Circuit City, etc. And there's these wonderful places that usually permit 30-60 minutes of free computer usage: public libraries. I understand what you're saying, but I don't have any concerns about people have access to the internet and its growing influence in our daily lives. It's more of an intelligence/knowledge gap, IMMHO. Posted by: ronn on January 17, 2004 02:43 PM
I think that both problems exist and are important to analyze. We are living in different times, Ronn. I remember when parents were dedicated to taking their children to the public library on the regular. In my area, most of the libraries are closed. And $500 is still a lot of money, especially in this horrible economy. Lack of access to the Internet is still quite real. Even if you go to Bryant Park (where they run a free WiFi hotspot the encompasses the whole block) you need a laptop with a WiFi card. A lot of work needs to be done to make these things appear in OUR communities as normally accessible services, not as luxuries. I don't see my computer as a luxury item: I use it for my business, for research and as my main communication tool. It's definitely more important than my phone. All of this is only because I know how to extend its use beyond what came in the box. Most people who own computers (ESPECIALLY PC users) don't get beyond whatever Microsoft put in there Start Menu, so they will never discover something like Mozilla Firebird (which is, hands down, a better browser). And most of these people won't really learn how to use a search engine to find other websites to visit - they will only use the presets presupposed by, you guessed it, Microsoft. (And then there's AOL's Labyrinth for Internet Beginners.) Apple does some of the same crap, too, but I feel like they're more dedicated to educating their users about their technology. For the most part. Blogging requires some of that additional knowledge. It also requires a want to read and write ... and to be heard. Because of this, many MANY people will be left out of the Blogging loop. It's dangerous, but it's nothing new. Posted by: Donald on January 17, 2004 04:56 PM
Donald, Thanks for that complete and piercing analysis. I agree that blogging is about more than internet access. In addition, the type of blog these campaign experts are speaking of do more than list likes and dislike, combined with sequenced thoughts about the days events. Its piercing analysis, its akin to reading a blogged version of NYTimes and Washington Post. I would love to see some research on who is accessing these blogs that they are talking about. Posted by: Tai on January 17, 2004 07:57 PM
Donald: You hit the nail on the head. It comes down to dedication -- both on the parents part and on the part of society as a whole. When parents spend recklessly (no pre/teen should have a got-dam cellie, $150 sneakers and the latest Sean Jean and not have a basic computer) and cities close libraries in our communities, it sends a horrible message to our kids. I too use my computer as a business tool and for communication. When I first heard about the internet, I was intrigued and went out of my way to get my first computer. It was a crappy Mac clone (may PowerComputing rot in electronic hell!!!), but it opened up my world to so many different, exciting possibilities. We need to encourage not only computer/net usage, but get our kids (and parents and seniors and every damn body) involved in every conceivable aspect of computers, knowledge-based communications and general technology. Tai: I would love to see detailed studies/research about blog readers as well. I see so many journals and personal pages by POC that are detailed and elaborate, yet the blog world is sparse when it comes to the same people. We have to catch up or we'll be so far behind that we'll stagnant. Posted by: ronn on January 17, 2004 09:05 PM
man isn't this just the same old same old - it's about more than the digital divide and lack of access. it's education in general. the proletariat has always, in some sense, ended up being disenfranchised. it's about a lot more than having a computer or knowing about these blogs. for the most part, most of the folks who will vote, will know were to go on their computers to seek this information. those who don't know about such blogs, probably aren't the %age of the pop. that will vote. more to say of course, but i'll leave it alone. Posted by: lynne on January 18, 2004 02:21 AM
Lynne: You also hit the nail on the head. It's mostly about education, not being hip to the latest technology just for the sake of it. It's about our collective future. Posted by: ronn on January 18, 2004 12:05 PM