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<nettime> The Dean campaign and the Internet [Holmes, Miller, Chandavark
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<nettime> The Dean campaign and the Internet [Holmes, Miller, Chandavarkar]

   Re: <nettime> The Dean campaign and the Internet                                
     Brian Holmes <brian.holmes {AT} wanadoo.fr>                                          

   Re: <nettime> The Dean campaign and the Internet                                
     "E. Miller" <subscriptionbox {AT} squishymedia.com>                                  

   RE: <nettime> The Dean campaign and the Internet                                
     "Prem Chandavarkar" <prem {AT} cnt-semac.com>                                        


Date: Thu, 11 Dec 2003 21:37:16 +0100
From: Brian Holmes <brian.holmes {AT} wanadoo.fr>
Subject: Re: <nettime> The Dean campaign and the Internet

I find both Michael's observation and Mitch's grain of salt very
interesting. I have been wondering for some time how the constituency of
the Clintonian New Economy would mount its counterattack. Computer
communications technology clearly had to be at the center of it. Well, the
Dean campaign is it - the Times article that Michael links to makes that
obvious. There we learn that none other than Rheingold is a Dean
consultant - a "Howard for Howard," as it were. (In fact the article
itself is a journalistic artefact that could only emerge from 1990s USA:
at one point it depicts the Dean campaign as something like a Grateful
Dead concert, where people travel 400 miles not to see a presidential
candidate but to see each other: "Like, man, wow, good to see you're still
part of the campaign, man!").
That all this should be neither or a bed of roses or what we could expect
from a radically democratic development of the Internet merely stands to
reason. The New Economy depended on a meeting of two cultures. One was the
emergent elite of flexible accumulation, which lived by the
ever-fluctuating rules that Paolo Virno diagnosed in 1980s Italy:
opportunism, cynicism and fear (that great text is in the Radical Thought
in Italy book). Clinton-Rubin (because these are the two men who shaped
the 90s in the USA) represented the attempt to impose those rules on a
world scale, the scale of financial globalization. The other culture was
the far more utopian and uniquely uncritical breed of individual that
could only (re)emerge in places like California, where the livin' is easy.
In Europe we knew them through Wired, but maybe you have to live there to
know how strangely deep - and how absurdly shallow - their relation to the
political countercultures of the 60s really is.

As the Democratic heavy-hitters are gradually forced to recognize Dean, we
can expect the class composition of the campaign to increasingly reflect
this obscure marriage of fundamentally opposed dispositions. There is a
difference, though, from the New Economy days: the techies and deadheads
who spontaneously cheered at the moment of Seattle have now had the chance
to see what imperialism really is when the gloves come off, and what
down-home protofascism looks like too. And they've had some catatonic time
to think about it. Expect San Francisco - the San Francisco of the antiwar
protests - to make another contribution to national culture again, very

Since you all want predictions I'll make the obvious one: everything
depends on what happens in Baghdad. When the neoconservatives first took
stock of the popularity Dean had gained on the antiwar stump, they were
supremely confident: "That's the man for us," they said. "Because nobody
can win a presidential election on an unpatriotic platform, when our boys
are at risk." Now everything depends, as the sociologist Ulrich Beck
figured out long ago, on the public's evaluation of where the risk lies,
what its causes are, how it's likely to evolve in the near future. The
real struggle is there: in the definition of the risks. And in the media
used to define them. But the right have their blogs too.




Date: Thu, 11 Dec 2003 14:39:21 -0800
From: "E. Miller" <subscriptionbox {AT} squishymedia.com>
Subject: Re: <nettime> The Dean campaign and the Internet

The interesting thing about the Dean Internet initiatives is that they
really do "get" what appeals to young people about the 'net and the
blogosphere in particular.

There's a degree of reciprocity in these nascent systems, whether its the
blogosphere or a political campaign; a flattening of hierarchy, a petri dish
of ideas, a sense of "we're all in this together" that is reflected in
Dean's "You have the power!" tagline.  It appeals to young
techno-libertarians who are jaded about advertising and messages but are
still idealistic about new communicative mediums changing society...that is,
as long as you define 'society' as upper-middle-class technically literate
culturally homogeneous people with college degrees.

The hierarchical communicative nature of the current administration as well
as the other campaigns ("Here's our message.  Eat it.") irks young netizens
just as they were irked by the hierarchical administrative nature of
traditional businesses.

Now whether or not this new model is congruent with the human need for
leadership in an incredibly complex and diverse world, that's another
question.  Do 'small pieces, loosely joined' constitute a valid basis for
leadership?  What happens when this pattern is applied to governance, with
its mandate to serve more than the technorati?  Can the organizing
principles that govern the blogosphere transfer to the much more passive
general public?  Good question.


On 12/11/03 4:13 AM, "Mitch Pellecchia" <jaymuse {AT} bellsouth.net> wrote:

> Michael H. Goldhaber has this to say concerning Dean and the
> Internet
> "I bring all this up in the hopes that nettimers will discuss this model
> of politics via the Internet and what it might portend/teach."
> What is really astonishing is how much money the Dean has raised over
> the Web. However, I still have yet to receive anything via the Internet
> asking for a donation, and I'm on a million mailers. What also amazes me
> is that Dean is no better a public speaker than Bush, yet he remains the
> Democratic front-runner. I would just hate to see the Internet create
> the same political environment as television advertising - It reaches
> out to groups who are more or less uninformed of the issues and
> vulnerable at every turn.


Date: Fri, 12 Dec 2003 10:32:10 +0530
From: "Prem Chandavarkar" <prem {AT} cnt-semac.com>
Subject: RE: <nettime> The Dean campaign and the Internet

> Michael H. Goldhaber has this to say concerning Dean and the
> Internet
> "I bring all this up in the hopes that nettimers will discuss this model
> of politics via the Internet and what it might portend/teach."
> I would just hate to see the Internet create
> the same political environment as television advertising - It reaches
> out to groups who are more or less uninformed of the issues and
> vulnerable at every turn.
> Mitch Pellecchia

The Internet has the potential of overcoming two problems intrinsic to
traditional mass media

1. Credibility: As Chomsky and Herman have pointed out, mass media
institutions need to control costs by using news sources whose credibility
is established. If a source who is not well known is used, then the cost of
establishing credibility shifts to the media institution.  But by using
sources whose credibility is established (such as government spokesmen,
corporate leaders, and other public figures) then the institution does not
have to bear the cost of proving credibility.  This tends to drive the media
institution towards propaganda for the structures of power.  It leads to (as
Daniel Boorstein pointed out many years ago) the need for a new kind of
person - the celebrity, who is defined as "a person who is well known for
his well-knownness".

2. Abstraction: Since the typical mass media institution needs to reach out
to large populations in order to be financially viable, it tends to abstract
news by homogenising it and often separating it from the complexities of its
context.  It tends to foreground simplistic grand narratives, and pushes to
the background local, complex narratives.  The resultant abstraction of news
means that unless it is verified through another source (such as personal
experience) it is seen as remote, esoteric, irrelevent or purely as
entertainment.  This abstraction allows us to respond to horrific news
(genocide, oppression, torture) with detachment.

The Internet, unlike mass media institutions which are centralised and
opaque, has the potential of bypassing these limitations because it
incorporates hierarchies of scale.  A campaign can simultaneously occur and
evolve at global, national, regional, local and neighbourhood levels.
Knowledge, information, emotions, etc. can be constructed at any level of
the hierarchy and when it has to move to lower and higher levels has to
transcend only one level of the hierarchy at a time.  In contrast, the jump
in scale involved with mass media institutions is too immense and forbidding
to effectively occur.  I do not live in America, and do not know very much
about the Dean campaign.  But from whatever I read about it I get the sense
that its achievements are based on the fact that these scale hierarchies
occur.  It would be a mistake to look at it purely from the viewpoint of a
central campaign office using a new communication medium effectively.  An
analysis must look at the scale hierarchies - the combination of the
Internet with intense face-to-face word-of-mouth interaction, for it is the
latter that promote credibility from non-mainstream sources and also reduce
the level of abstraction.

Prem Chandavarkar
Bangalore, India


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