inkwell.vue.337 : Lowell Feld and Nate Wilcox, Netroots Rising
permalink #51 of 73: Gail Williams (gail) Tue 7 Oct 08 15:19
    
(While that Q is restated...  )

Are there great blogs you follow that are about the netroot phenomenon
itself?  Are you guys or is anybody really reporting and commenting on this
stuff real time as it evolves?
  
inkwell.vue.337 : Lowell Feld and Nate Wilcox, Netroots Rising
permalink #52 of 73: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 7 Oct 08 22:06
    
I was watching the debates again and thinking how much more political
activity there is today, much of it organized online and/or happening
online. We thought people would be more engaged, and that seems to be
the case, though it's not clear whether it's making a difference yet. A
lot of the conversations are partisan echo chambers. How do we create
contexts for real dialog, where people who don't agree actually listen
to each other?
  
inkwell.vue.337 : Lowell Feld and Nate Wilcox, Netroots Rising
permalink #53 of 73: Nathan Wilcox (natewilcox) Wed 8 Oct 08 06:53
    
Are there great blogs you follow that are about the netroot phenomenon
itself?  Are you guys or is anybody really reporting and commenting on
this stuff real time as it evolves?
------------------------------------------------------

There was an attempt to do this in 2004 with a blog called BOPNews
(Blogging the President) but it evolved into a blog about economics and
then went away.

We have a blog for the book at www.NetrootsRising.com where we
sometimes post about new trends. 

The difficulty is that the innovations are often invisible since they
take place at a very localized level so its hard to keep up with in a
blogging format (there's not a good source of daily links to post
about).

Zack Exley does have a good post up today about some of the Obama
campaign's new organizing models.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/zack-exley/the-new-organizers-part-1_b_132782.ht
ml

This does describe the one area where the Obama campaign has moved the
ball forward on a conceptual level (although lots of people had done
this stuff on a local level before) for presidential campaigns.

From Exley:
"The "New Organizers" have succeeded in building what many
netroots-oriented campaigners have been dreaming about for a decade.
Other recent attempts have failed because they were either so
"top-down" and/or poorly-managed that they choked volunteer leadership
and enthusiasm; or because they were so dogmatically fixated on pure
peer-to-peer or "bottom-up" organizing that they rejected basic
management, accountability and planning. The architects and builders of
the Obama field campaign, on the other hand, have undogmatically mixed
timeless traditions and discipline of good organizing with new
technologies of decentralization and self-organization."

The 2006 Deval Patrick gubernatorial campaign in Massachusetts did a
lot of this stuff. Its no coincidence that many of the same people went
on to work on the Obama campaign. 

A guy named Paul Dunleavey wrote a great paper on "Peer to peer
politics and the inside-out campaign" a while back that describes his
efforts in MA preceding the Deval Patrick campaign.

You can read the paper here: www.pdcarto.com/papers/f2f_politics.pdf 

It describes how Dunleavey evolved the techniques in the late 90's and
how he brought them online starting in 2003. 

One of my biggest regrets about the book was that we didn't have the
space and time to research these developments in Massachusetts more
thoroughly. One thesis I'd like to explore is that the Robert Reich
campaign of 2002 was a proto-netroots campaign that gave Mass. a leg up
when the Dean and Clark efforts launched in 2003. They could build on
already existing networks. By 2006 Massachusetts was again two years
ahead of the rest of the country in on the ground organizing.
  
inkwell.vue.337 : Lowell Feld and Nate Wilcox, Netroots Rising
permalink #54 of 73: Nathan Wilcox (natewilcox) Wed 8 Oct 08 06:55
    
We thought people would be more engaged, and that seems to be
the case, though it's not clear whether it's making a difference yet.
A
lot of the conversations are partisan echo chambers. How do we create
contexts for real dialog, where people who don't agree actually listen
to each other?
----------------------------------------------

That's the $64 question. And it might be one the online medium is
particularly ill-suited to handle. The recent research showing just how
much more likely people are to be insulting and hostile in email vs
written communications on paper is disheartening.

Perhaps the evolution of the online medium to more of a video
experience will help. However we'll then be going back to a visual,
emotional based medium like TV -- which is what the net has been
becoming the thinking antidote for.
  
inkwell.vue.337 : Lowell Feld and Nate Wilcox, Netroots Rising
permalink #55 of 73: Nate Wilcox (natewilcox) Wed 8 Oct 08 09:15
    
As a follow up to that last point about echo chambers, just look at
what a debacle the Democratic primary became online. DailyKos became
the pro-Obama echo chamber and many long-time community members who
supported Hillary left. MyDD became the pro-Hillary community and lost
many pro-Obama members.
Blogs are not a very effective persuasive tool if you define
persuasive as changing people's mind from a position they've already
held, but they can be quite effective at steering people's thinking on
new topics. 
  
inkwell.vue.337 : Lowell Feld and Nate Wilcox, Netroots Rising
permalink #56 of 73: Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Wed 8 Oct 08 11:16
    
I was one of those out of staters who went to New Mexico for Dean, and
it was really wonderful. We were put up in the homes of locals and
there was at least one local in every group who would tell us things
about the neighborhoods we were visiting. There was also a lot of
well-organized material on how to do canvassing, and it was my first
experience with what's now called the VAN system, where you focus on
likely Democrats and not on just everyone.

At what point is all this guerilla stuff going to backfire? I'm
looking at this:

http://www.textually.org/textually/archives/2008/10/021395.htm

and thinking of all the different things people might do, and where it
goes from here in terms of watching and harassing candidates.
  
inkwell.vue.337 : Lowell Feld and Nate Wilcox, Netroots Rising
permalink #57 of 73: Ari Davidow (ari) Wed 8 Oct 08 11:50
    <scribbled by ari Wed 8 Oct 08 12:09>
  
inkwell.vue.337 : Lowell Feld and Nate Wilcox, Netroots Rising
permalink #58 of 73: Ari Davidow (ari) Wed 8 Oct 08 12:10
    
Oops. Carefully posted the link already listed and annotated in <53>.
  
inkwell.vue.337 : Lowell Feld and Nate Wilcox, Netroots Rising
permalink #59 of 73: Nate Wilcox (natewilcox) Wed 8 Oct 08 13:14
    
At what point is all this guerilla stuff going to backfire? I'm
looking at this:

http://www.textually.org/textually/archives/2008/10/021395.htm

and thinking of all the different things people might do, and where it
goes from here in terms of watching and harassing candidates.
------------------------------------------

It's already backfired many times. The infamous MoveOn.org Hitler ad
is the most storied example
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,107426,00.html

I think what will eventually happen is that the consensus will become
that campaigns are not responsible for everything their supporters say.
  
inkwell.vue.337 : Lowell Feld and Nate Wilcox, Netroots Rising
permalink #60 of 73: Nate Wilcox (natewilcox) Wed 8 Oct 08 13:14
    
another, better view of the Moveon.org Hitler ad kerfluffle.
http://dir.salon.com/story/opinion/feature/2004/01/07/moveon_ads/index.html
  
inkwell.vue.337 : Lowell Feld and Nate Wilcox, Netroots Rising
permalink #61 of 73: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 9 Oct 08 07:30
    
This discussion will last at least until next week (though we can keep
talking as long as Nate and Lowell want to continue). This is probably
a good point to repeat what Dana posted earlier:

(NOTE: Offsite readers with questions or comments may have them
 added to the conversation by emailing <inkwell@well.com> -- please
 put the author's name in the subject line. Thank you!)

This means anybody anywhere can ask a question, so please chime in,
even if you're not on the WELL.

*********
Meanwhile...

"Perhaps the evolution of the online medium to more of a video
experience will help. However we'll then be going back to a visual,
emotional based medium like TV -- which is what the net has been
becoming the thinking antidote for."

One question implied there is whether "visual" is opposed to
"thinking." And I think the real issue is that it's hard to have
many-to-many conversations with video... isn't video inherently a
broadcast medium, no matter where you plug it in?

"Blogs are not a very effective persuasive tool if you define
persuasive as changing people's mind from a position they've already
held, but they can be quite effective at steering people's thinking on
new topics."

I think it's hard to generalize about blogs - "blog" is just a format,
no? You can have blogs that are used for one-to-many publishing, and
you can have blogs that form blog communities where there's quite a bit
of interaction/conversation going on. Isn't the real problem that we
don't have any significant movement pushing dialog and deliberation vs
the partisan political practice of aligning behind certain positions
and candidates? This is the issue that derailed me in the 90s when I
unsuccessfully tried to write about online activism, using _Rules for
Radicals_ as a model. I started writing as an online activist looking
for stories to tell about successful online activist campaigns (like
the black web page campaign you mentioned earlier), but in the process
of writing the book I realized that there was a whole other way to see
the Internet, as a tool for what you might call small-d democratic
activism: instead of successfully pushing a particular activist
position, creating a platform where many positions could be represented
and heard. However you don't have 'hearing' if you don't have
'listening,' and we don't have 'listening' because nobody's pushing
that point. (I missed the National Conference on Dialog and
Deliberation here in Austin, but that's what they're about. The word on
the street, though, is that "dialog and deliberation" is unsexy, and
certainly wouldn't appeal to activists strongly advocating a particular
position.)
  
inkwell.vue.337 : Lowell Feld and Nate Wilcox, Netroots Rising
permalink #62 of 73: Nate Wilcox (natewilcox) Thu 9 Oct 08 10:35
    
Isn't the real problem that we don't have any significant movement
pushing dialog and deliberation vs the partisan political practice of
aligning behind certain positions and candidates? 
--------------------------------------------------------

The position of the Democratic activists known as the netroots has
been that the Bush administration is so disastrous and the Democratic
"opposition" so feeble that there is no time for seeking ideal
solutions. Rather it's been an emergency effort to put our hands on the
rudder and steer the ship away from the iceberg.

Ultimately I agree that some form of more deliberative discussion
might be ideal.

However, looking at history I don't see any instance, ever, of
high-minded and disinterested persons having thoughtful discussions
ever amounting to anything significant.

The movements that have made a difference -- the revolutionaries, the
abolitionists, the early progressive/labor movement, the 1960s
conservative counter-revolution -- have all been extremely partisan,
have all used charged rhetoric and propoganda, have all staked out
non-compromising absolutist positions that were only modified once the
movements had achieved power.

I've never seen any evidence that human beings respond in any
meaningful way to thoughtful, nuanced and deliberative discussion.

Might be handy if we did.
  
inkwell.vue.337 : Lowell Feld and Nate Wilcox, Netroots Rising
permalink #63 of 73: Cogito? (robertflink) Thu 9 Oct 08 18:16
    
>I've never seen any evidence that human beings respond in any
meaningful way to thoughtful, nuanced and deliberative discussion.<

Interesting point.  OTOH, there may have been changes in the past that
activists and true believers as well as nuanced discussion were
ancillary to.  This relates to the general view that we owe so much to
"people (mostly men) of action".

Now we need to admit that action people include those that dragged
humanity backward as well as those that pulled it forward.  Can we
assert with confidence that the balance is positive? 

We do seem to want to blame or credit (as the case may be) specific
individuals for major events of the past.  In many cases it may have
been that the event happened "on her or his watch".  

Would society have more practical problems if we were to discount both
the contributions and the damage attributed to activist individuals
and groups? 
  
inkwell.vue.337 : Lowell Feld and Nate Wilcox, Netroots Rising
permalink #64 of 73: Nate Wilcox (natewilcox) Fri 10 Oct 08 06:28
    
Now we need to admit that action people include those that dragged
humanity backward as well as those that pulled it forward.  Can we
assert with confidence that the balance is positive? 

--------------------------------------------

Of course. I'm not so naive as to think that all change is good. In
fact that's why I listed the conservative movement from 1960-now in my
list of American activists. 
They made change alright, but it was backwards progress.
However my point is that human nature doesn't change. And human beings
are motivated by spirited conflict and energetic drives to promised
lands.
As to whether the end results are good or bad, that tends to depend on
whether you're a canaanite or an isrealite, a cowboy or an indian. 
I do believe progress is possible, but I also believe we're in a
transitional era where we don't have a shared definition of what
constitutes progress. The rationalistic experiment of the moderns has
clearly reached its limits (the world wars, the atomic bomb and global
warming are the death knell) and post-modernism is clearly a dead-end
(karl rove being its foremost political practitioner). But what is
next....no one knows.
I await the emergence of a new wave of visionary leaders. Maybe Barack
Obama will be our 21st Century Abraham Lincoln. Maybe he'll be Jimmy
Carter part II. 
  
inkwell.vue.337 : Lowell Feld and Nate Wilcox, Netroots Rising
permalink #65 of 73: Cogito, Ergo Spero (robertflink) Fri 10 Oct 08 10:50
    
>I await the emergence of a new wave of visionary leaders.<

While we are waiting, there may be changes happening in the culture
that are more profound than what the visionary leaders cause.  The
value of the visionary leader may be to identify the change earlier
than the rest of us and to help us make a relatively safe adjustment to
it.  This is no small feat and one which the visionary rightly
deserves credit but we can get a false view of the world if we make too
much of the specific leaders role.

It could be that the visionary leader is an icon of the new
secularism, suggesting that religion is a durable aspect of the group
human psyche.
  
inkwell.vue.337 : Lowell Feld and Nate Wilcox, Netroots Rising
permalink #66 of 73: Nate Wilcox (natewilcox) Fri 10 Oct 08 13:51
    
While we are waiting, there may be changes happening in the culture
that are more profound than what the visionary leaders cause. 
-------------------------------------------
I'm seeing a lot of people online talking about a really new economy
that values efficiency over growth. Perhaps we can start a parade and
find some leaders to jump in front of it later.
  
inkwell.vue.337 : Lowell Feld and Nate Wilcox, Netroots Rising
permalink #67 of 73: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 10 Oct 08 22:37
    
Transition to an economy based on sustainability seems inevitable, as
a matter of survival. It would be based on knowledge and efficiency,
rather than resource extraction. We're just starting to consider the
scope and significance of that shift, coupled with revolutionary
communications technology changing social and knowledge structures.
Assuming that we're in a transformative period, can we continue with
politics as usual?
  
inkwell.vue.337 : Lowell Feld and Nate Wilcox, Netroots Rising
permalink #68 of 73: Spero? (robertflink) Sat 11 Oct 08 11:50
    
Will an economy based on sustainability include a modicum of freedom
on the part of the individual?  If not, can we have such a change and
democracy too?  I am assuming that "the people" will have the same
problem dealing with reality as they have had all along.  

Remember, when the people are sovereign, they seem to have a similar
penchant for denial as the kings of old.  Recall the Emperor's New
Clothes story.
  
inkwell.vue.337 : Lowell Feld and Nate Wilcox, Netroots Rising
permalink #69 of 73: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 11 Oct 08 15:14
    
I don't think individual freedom goes away in an economic and
legislative framework based on sustainability. While there are always
some regulatory constraints (the need for which seems pretty obvious
lately), market forces are just as relevant in a world where economic
thinking isn't based on an assumption that resources are infinite. It's
a bigger discussion, probably not something to pursue in this
particular forum. But I do wonder how the transformation-in-progress
will affect politics. And if we're sliding into transitional recession
or depression, how will that impact politics?
  
inkwell.vue.337 : Lowell Feld and Nate Wilcox, Netroots Rising
permalink #70 of 73: Nate Wilcox (natewilcox) Tue 14 Oct 08 07:44
    
Assuming that we're in a transformative period, can we continue with
politics as usual?

-------------------------------------------

Definitely not. But I'm afraid the time horizon is a little longer
than would be ideal. I expect the current transitional era to continue
at least until 2012 with 2016 being the big showdown between a real
progressive and a real reactionary.

In the mean time the netroots project can continue to help ordinary
citizens reclaim their inheritance as political actors. Political
muscles, long-unused have atrophied and need to be rebuilt. 

I expect to see a massive surge in online organizing by the out of
power Republicans in 2009 and 2010. It will be incumbent on
progressives to stay active and engaged even as "our" party is in
power. 

One lesson that we should learn from the Republican collapse is that
when the supporters of the party in power become apologists for the
current regime, they squander their credibility and allow their
administration a great deal of latitude to go wrong. 

I expect the Democratic netroots to be vigilant critics of the new
administration.
  
inkwell.vue.337 : Lowell Feld and Nate Wilcox, Netroots Rising
permalink #71 of 73: Nate Wilcox (natewilcox) Tue 14 Oct 08 07:47
    
Will an economy based on sustainability include a modicum of freedom
on the part of the individual?  If not, can we have such a change and
democracy too? 

---------------------------------

A sustainable economy by definition will require a great deal of ad
hoc management on the local level. There should be MORE freedom, not
less. Smaller government, smaller corporations = more local leadership,
more freedom. More responsibility too, but I think people will handle
it fine.

Its the change that will be painful. The old economy won't die easy
I'm afraid.
  
inkwell.vue.337 : Lowell Feld and Nate Wilcox, Netroots Rising
permalink #72 of 73: (dana) Wed 15 Oct 08 11:13
    
Thanks to Nate, Lowell, and Jon for this discussion. Our virtual spotlight
is turning to another conversation, but that doesn't mean this one has to
end; you're all welcome to stick around as long as you're interested.
  
inkwell.vue.337 : Lowell Feld and Nate Wilcox, Netroots Rising
permalink #73 of 73: Cupido, Ergo Denego (robertflink) Fri 17 Oct 08 17:19
    
>Smaller government, smaller corporations = more local leadership,
more freedom. More responsibility too, but I think people will handle
it fine.<

This is a little idealistic.   Smaller organizations and communities
are not necessarily more open and tolerant.  Those who say it takes a
village should recall Salem, Mass.  Also petty tyrants can set up
regardless of the noble ideas that initiates matters.  Recall also
"states rights" and what went on in its name.

There is no need for official sanctions if peer pressure is
sufficient.  Peer pressure may not be as manageable as one would want.
  



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