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“Human face on a very inhuman process”: Presidential bloggers

April 20th, 2004 · No Comments

Notes on Presidential bloggers session moderated by Dan Gillmor at BloggerCon April 17.

For this session, I organized quotes by category, not by necessarily chronological order.

Other’s notes: Bryan Strawser, Rebecca MacKinnon and Betsy Devine Thanks again Tara

Barriers to presidential blogging

New tools needed: both Clark and Kerry campaigns abandoned Movable Type

horrendous format in an adversarial environment ( Kerry)
community blog allowed more scalability (Clark)

Digital divide:

Jim Moore: [there is] still a huge digital divide in this country [which is] important to Democrats – many constituents not on the web….we have 1.1 million members (of a list) but only 10,000 email addresses…janitors, housekeepers not on the Web…they’re putting kiosks in black churches for access…

Political culture:

Dick Bell: a very conservative culture […] there are some lines out there you can’t cross…
Dan Gillmor: political campaigns are amazingly hierarchical

Why blog? To learn.

Jay Rosen:…what’s striking to me about the Dean campaign: we’re learning from the blog about… ..is that true? If that’s true, that meant the Dean Campaign thought there was something to learn? I don’t know if the Kerry campaign thinks that there is anything to learn? Unless you think there is something to learn, presidential blogging may not make much difference.

Zephyr Teachout [Dean]: Yes we did learn. Yes we did do things from suggestions. The blog is one way to learn. It’s a wonderful way to explore messages. It’s a pretty inadequate way to learn organizaing processes….yes but don’t overvalue the blog.

“Convince me” & “fight CNN” with the blog

Jeff Jarvis: There’s an expectation…I expect propagandistic…convince me…there’s a sale there…

Dave Winer: I wanted to go someplace where I could find out why I should vote for this guy. I’m not that easy to sell…but I think a really winning campaign…is also going to have to fight CNN….that is another moral we used from the Dean Campaign….it was CNN that beat you…had you become a TV network at that moment…perhaps CNN would have lost and maybe we all would have won because we would have had more information.

Rebut criticism

Dan Gillmor : bloggers gain a lot of authority by pointing to people who criticize them…it’s not a tragic event to change one’s mind.

Jim Moore: that’s our competitive advantage – we did point to hundreds of other blogs….then you build a very much more inclusive universe

Mention of “flap” at Daily Kos.

Are supporters more credible than candidate bloggers?

Oliver Willis:The other part of the picture is supporter blogs. I’m a Kerry supporter. When I rebut something from the Bush blog, I have more credibility than the official blog. (thanks to Betsy typing in IRC for this quote)

Blogging after election?

Dan Gillmor : I wonder if this has much more application on governance after election
Stephen Waters: idea of followupquestions.com

While it was agreed that blogs put a “human face on a very inhuman process”, it was debated whether candidates are able to blog

Dan Gillmor : [blogging puts a] human face on a very inhuman process. It’s a very inhuman process…[Dean blogger posted]:”we just arrived and they gave us cookies”

audience member: blogging takes up a lot of time…

audience member:..there’s no time [for a candidate to blog]…


Tom Regan: I want to talk about being an independent voter…I want to give some feedback to the blogging people….it would be intriguing for me right now as a voter who has still not made up his mind about who to support….for me the question is how you use your time is all a part of the message of how you want to achieve…I had this funny moment of thinking it would have been kind of funny if Kerry had a blog that said “I never said raise taxes by 55 cents” or “looking for some board tips”… would humanize the candidate. You’re doing it for the other audience who’s watching it. I’d like to know more about John Kerry as a person. Or even George Bush as a person…

Dan Gillmor : whether the public would conclude it [Kerry asking for snowboarding tips..etc.] was phony

Brian Reich: Gore perceptions in 2000 [were] incredibly stiff…it became my responsibility to humanize and personalize him…I think the blog has an opportunity to do that..it doesn’t have to be the candidate..explain what Gore said…presidential campaigns…it’s whoever calls you, stops at your door who wins the votes…

Tom Regan: I disagree with you…I was fortunate enough to be in a room with him[Gore]…he won the room over in person. He’s really funny. That’s what I want.

Brian Reich: Every candidate…if I had been able to introduce him [would have won]…the failure was trying to communicate through the media and not allowing people who know what they feel about a candidate…

Dave Winer:: None of you guys get it. We are not eyeballs. We are not voters. We are taxpayers. We go to work. We die in those wars.(thanks to Betsy)

The question remains:
Can the people at the edges really be heard?

Dan Gillmor : It’s still not clear that the Dean Campaign got much out of the edges. I’m still not sure how much. Can the people at the edges really be heard in the center?

How do you plan to listen?

Tags: bloggercon