I’m blogging for the rest of the week for the Knight Foundation from their Politics & Cyberspace conference. It’s been excellent so far, all of the posts are here — my post on the keynote is copied below. On the right, John Amato of CrooksandLiars with James Joyner of Outside the Beltway.
“You know how they say we only use 10 percent of our brains? I think we only use 10 percent of our hearts.” — Owen Wilson in Wedding Crashers.
Campaigns are only using 10 percent of the Internet, said political scientist Michael Cornfield, former director of research for the GW & Pew-backed Democracy Online Project (now VP of ElectionMall), in his opening keynote, “Politics and the Internet: What Do We Really Know?”
The public and in some ways the press are now trained to expect the marriage of Web 2.0 and politics to produce breakthrough discoveries or disseminate ill-conceived media that can make or break political campaigns. But as Cornfield stressed, George Allen’s 2006 “macaca” moment was simply the nadir of an already disintegrating campaign.
“Tech innovation brought into the marketplace is not significant on its own,” said Cornfield. While 2006 was YouTube’s year, it didn’t make or break these races, the campaigns and candidates did. Similarly, the first televised presidential debate — Nixon v. JFK in 1960 — did not necessarily produce a sudden sea change in which voters went purely on looks as much as the candidates themselves reacted to their performances.
Television remains the mass medium of choice among Americans, although the Internet is gaining in popularity, especially among the younger set. But it was not an Internet campaign that definitively changed the tone of the media and in turn the momentum of the 2004 election. The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth was a donor-funded political group that, in the final weeks of the campaign, created TV and radio ads disparaging John F. Kerry’s Vietnam service and spread rumors — most of which, if not all, have only been verified as false — insinuating that, among other things, he acted unethically on the battlefield during the incident for which he was awarded a purple star.
Who exactly were the donors and private interests behind the Swift Boat Fund and how long had they been planning it?
Cornfield could not have possibly overstated the importance of micro-analysis of campaign usage of media and new tech and of profiling big donors and supporters. As the public’s use and comfort level with the Internet as a socially and politically reverent medium continues to grow, so will the number — and the power — of individual campaign donors. Thanks to the resources made available by the FEC and OpenSecrets, major donors can be identified and their campaign contributions, monetary and otherwise can often be tracked. Cornfield recommended journalists band together and create forums in which they listen to — and interview — groups of donors. It would be interesting to see how this could be effective on both sides of the political aisle — we’ll see if any donor profiles come out of large-scale events like YearlyKos in Chicago in August or even the GOP debate May 3rd at the Reagan Library.
McCain and Giuliani may have been early frontrunners to be the GOP candidate, but, now, where did all of Romney’s millions come from?
The general public will continue to dissect the candidates, their histories and intentions, but who will follow the money to the source? Are campaign donors the new kingmakers as Cornfield suggests?
On this tragic and upsetting day in which at least
25 33 are dead and dozens more injured in shootings on the VTU campus in Blacksburg, Virginia, a shout-out to the staff of the campus newspaper, the Collegiate Times.
The student paper originally broke the story and continues releasing updates:
Monday, April 16th 2007 9:47AM
Shots were fired on campus in West Ambler Johnson Hall in the early morning hours.
The Collegiate Times is currently investigating the story. More information will be posted as it is made available.
The Virginia Tech Web site is overloaded (try their IP directly) but the Collegiate Times is now being hosted by their parent host, CollegeMedia and continues reporting with primarily text-only entries and the bandwidth is being handled fine. Wikipedia is on this as well, just as fast, if not faster, than the AP/CNN, etc. A screenshot of the VT Website is available here at flickr – latest photos are here.
Student-run college radio station WUVT remains on the air and can be streamed (when not overloaded) here. The screenshot above is via ABC News Now, being streamed live on the AT&T Yahoo! today portal (also available here and here). Apparently, this video by VT grad student Jamal Albarghouti has been viewed over 900,000 on CNN’s Web site as of 3 p.m. EDT (per Jarvis).
With the death count expected to rise, today’s massacre is already the deadliest
school shooting rampage in U.S. history (more than double that of Columbine).
Several groups and postings on facebook, a common question being: why was Norris Hall open and classes in session at 9:30 (when the majority of killings took place in a classroom) after one student was murdered in the dorm two hours earlier and the killer remained on the loose?
Thoughts and prayers to all the victims, friends and family. And please, media, take it easy on them — anyone who wants to upload video/photos knows how to do it, it’s just insensitive to be begging for citizen-generated content under such terrifying headlines.
ADDED: The audio of VTU President Charles W. Steger’s statement, hosted below.
One could only hope.
Everyone wondered if they’d ever really pull the trigger on this, or stick to their adsense guns while DoubleClick ambled along — and the day has come. $3.1B later, Google is now the king of all Internet advertising (although Yahoo! remains no slouch, most recently expanding it’s one-stop online news ad shop to include McClatchy).
Sergey Brin once hinted at DoubleClick being the “life preserver” as John Battelle mentions in The Search (and as Biz2.0 reminds today), but the metaphor was baswed on Adwords going under. While Adsense is doing fine, Google apparently seized on this opportunity to box out Microsoft and go large.