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With the Democratic Party tantalizingly close to regaining power, and with  the inevitable post-game analysis of what it all means, the role of bloggers and the latest technologies will be hotly debated.  Howard Dean's people-powered politics and the Democratic Leadership Council's reliance on big money and a cadre of professional consultants will both be vying to take credit for the victory.

Just like conventional wisdom has credited the Right Wing's disciplined rise to power to the topdown control of message through AM Talk Radio and the politicization of the evangelical pulpit, so will cultural observers try to explain the shift in support to new methods of addressing the public effectively.  

Until Ned Lamont's primary victory, it was easy to dismiss the potency of new media on the political process because of the lack of successful outcomes in challenging the entrenched status quo.  Come November 7 and a Democratic Tsunami, pundits will be picking through the debris field looking to answer the question of what happened to so quickly and thoroughly wash away the "Thousand Year Republican Reich" of Delay and Rove.

In today's San Francisco Chronicle there is an illuminating exchange between two "sharp thinkers" debating opposite viewpoints on the role of new technology on culture in general, with clear extrapolation for the future of politics.  It is fascinating to read through their conversation and hear again the themes that we ourselves often engage on this site.  It's as easy to imagine the discussion is taking place between Joe Trippi and Rahm Emmanuel as the men actually quoted in the article.

http://www.sfgate.com/...

Chris Anderson, editor-in-chief of Wired magazine and author of the paradigm-shifting bestseller "The Long Tail," espouses what most Kossacks believe, that inclusion and participation leads to the most progressive and humane outcomes:

I broadly believe in democratic principles. I broadly believe in market principles. I think that the three most powerful forces of our time are evolution, democracy and capitalism, all three of which are very much individualistic, sort of enlightened self-interest and individual agents working autonomously.

History suggests that they are the least bad of the available models. They tend to reach more optimal, but not perfect, solutions. So, if you believe in democracy and if you believe in markets, then you believe in technologies that help them work more efficiently. That's very much what we are seeing today.

His "opponent" in the debate, Andrew Keen, a political philosopher and author of "The Cult of the Amateur," laments the cheapening of public discourse now that virtually anyone can attract an audience, and how difficult it is to know what voices one can trust out of the emerging cacophony:

I think perhaps the more pertinent issue is one of direct democracy versus representative democracy. What I think you are seeing in this "flattened" world that (New York Times columnist) Tom Friedman writes about, along with so many other pro-technology writers, is the idealization of direct democracy.

I still think that the wisdom that I value -- the scarcity, to put it in economic terms -- is not in the crowd, but in people with talent and experience, whether they exist in political life, in economic life or cultural life.

Rather than fetishizing this idealized crowd -- it seems tremendously abstract -- one can pick up so many examples from history where the crowd has not behaved in a very wise or gentlemanly way. I would rather focus on the value of expertise and the wisdom of people who are trained.

Anderson puts his faith in new, broader and more inclusive structures to solve the problem of "information overload" and the superiority of the resulting product to the 20th century "stovepiping" of information upward though narrow channels. Essentially endorsing platforms like Daily Kos and Wikipedia, Anderson puts his hope for the future in something not far removed from John Stuart Mill's Utilitarian "that the good is whatever brings the greatest happiness to the greatest number of people."

When you say I can filter a million voices myself, I am filtering a million voices, but not doing it myself. What I have is layers of filters. There are people out there who have more time than me, have more expertise than me or just find things that I haven't found. I have maybe 200 voices out there that I listen to, but collectively I'm filtering a million voices through all those layers. As a result, I get a richer, higher-quality diet of information better suited to me to pull from a wider pool and wider variety of sources. It's not that much trouble. It's much easier than it's ever been before.

However, Keen sees disintermediation and decentralization as a threat to modern civilization, potentially undermining the very institutions responsible for progress.  His is a bleak warning that we stand to lose what we value most as it all unravels without a central unifying force to counter the entropy.

I think we are seeing more fragmentation. I think we are seeing more anger. I think we are seeing this radicalization of culture and life. I think that technology seems to be almost coincidental and has exploded around this at the same time that Americans are very angry about many different things.

It has nothing to do with blogs or technology, but all these things are coming together in a way that concerns me and I think that if our traditional institutions of politics or culture or economics continue to be undermined by this personalization and radical individualization of things, then I think we will be in trouble.

I think that if the Internet becomes more and more of a soapbox to trash elected politicians and mainstream media figures and to conduct these witch hunts on anyone who ever makes a mistake, then I think that eventually we are going to find ourselves in a world where we're just going to be staring at a mirror.

It's going to result in what I call cultural and economic anarchy, and I don't think that is a good thing. I think it will result in less community, which is ironic given the fact that this thing is supposed to be about community.

With the coming election and massive shift in power seemingly the result of the publication of private Instant Messages and emails, and the pervasive  distribution of YouTube videos, the question for us Kossacks is this: is the vehicle of the new technologies so inherently progressive and consistent with our values that we will "own" it for the foreseeable future?  

Or because these new methods are so without any way to validate the worth their message, that they will be seized, like Talk Radio was, by the forces of corporate fascism and perverted, like Powerline or RedState to be used to secure the anti-democratic agenda?  Just like Stephen Colbert was able to change a Wikipedia entry to falsely assert to the flourishing of elephants in Africa, will the powerful interests "astroturf" America into complacency or apathy?

And if that is what we believe is inevitable, what can we do to counter it or prevent that from happening?

Originally posted to wonkydonkey on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 12:52 PM PDT.

Poll

Web 2.0 means that in ten years...

14%4 votes
17%5 votes
10%3 votes
10%3 votes
32%9 votes
14%4 votes

| 28 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tipping Point... (7+ / 0-)

    ...are we tipping toward direct democracy or anarchy?

    "Independence can be trusted nowhere but with the people in mass. They are inherently independent of all but moral law."

         --Thomas Jefferson to Spencer Roane, 1819.

    "It's just like the 60's, only with less hope." -Justin Bond in the film "Shortbus" (-6.38/ -4.21)

    by wonkydonkey on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 12:52:24 PM PDT

    •  "Reflection,... with information,... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gpm, 4Freedom

      is all which our countrymen need, to bring themselves and their affairs to rights."

               --Thomas Jefferson to James Lewis, Jr., 1798

      "It's just like the 60's, only with less hope." -Justin Bond in the film "Shortbus" (-6.38/ -4.21)

      by wonkydonkey on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 12:54:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Can't vote (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wonkydonkey, CarterDulka, gpm, 4Freedom

    The jury is still out.

    You have to include 500 channels of tv in the mix and whether the media as we know it today, furthers Jeffersonian Democracy or ushers in a new era of mob rule or at least the tyranny of the majority remains to be seen.

    Single humans may act benignly while large groups destroy their own home, neighborhood, environment, republic and finally species.

    The biggest threat to America is not communism, it's moving America toward a fascist theocracy... -- Frank Zappa

    by NCrefugee on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 01:00:07 PM PDT

    •  I can point out that... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CarterDulka, gpm, VA02 femocrat

      ...on 9/11 a large group of people (ie New Yorkers) acted very cooperatively.  Crime virtually vanished in the city for a few days.  

      Or you can point to something like Woodstock where a half million people gathered under deplorable conditions and there was virtually no recorded criminal acts.

      Aggregating large groups of people doesn't necessarily mean a riot will break out.

      "It's just like the 60's, only with less hope." -Justin Bond in the film "Shortbus" (-6.38/ -4.21)

      by wonkydonkey on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 01:08:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Your still not thinking large (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wonkydonkey, gpm

        Voting is done by far larger groups than you will ever see in one location.

        As is not voting.

        Hempfest here in Seattle has huge numbers of people gather and they pick up the trash on the way out. It is quiet enough to hear a speaker from the stage half a mile away.

        But it is still not an example of what misinformed humans driven by misinformation and demagogues can do.

        The biggest threat to America is not communism, it's moving America toward a fascist theocracy... -- Frank Zappa

        by NCrefugee on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 01:22:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Although it's still centrally organized... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          CarterDulka, gpm

          ...would the "American Idol" voting be a representation of sufficient scale?

          Given the controversy over the accurate recording of the votes, it seems more Diebold than Web 2.0.

          However, while also centrally organized, Gandhi and Martin Luther King are an example of what properly inspired humans driven by the best principles can do.

          That leads to the conclusion that we are only as safe as the morality of the leaders we chose to follow.  The scary part is that a third of America thinks George Bush is a "godly" man.

          "It's just like the 60's, only with less hope." -Justin Bond in the film "Shortbus" (-6.38/ -4.21)

          by wonkydonkey on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 01:32:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I thought the Colbert lesson (3+ / 0-)

    was that he couldn't skew Wikipedia effectively. Wiki leaders are his demographic and watch his show; they kept watch on the elephants thing.

    •  You're right about the final outcome. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CarterDulka

      But before that happened the sheer volume of people he was able to rally from his old media pulpit overwhelmed wiki's self-policing mechanisms to at least temporarily alter the entry--not unlike selling a false meme to the public just long enough to win an election or start a war.

      "It's just like the 60's, only with less hope." -Justin Bond in the film "Shortbus" (-6.38/ -4.21)

      by wonkydonkey on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 01:10:35 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I don't know the full story about this, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wonkydonkey, CarterDulka

      but isn't the result skewed by his fame?  I mean, say a nobody like me edited the entry on elephants and kept quiet about it.  Would the result be different?

      ----------------
      The trouble with the world is that the stupid are always cocksure and the intelligent are always filled with doubt. -- Bertrand Russell

      by gpm on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 01:24:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly. Colbert's "old media" platform... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gpm

        ..let him manipulate the new media.

        It's not unlike the way a story can be well-researched and documented in the blogosphere for months, but until the Mainstream Media picks it up, it lacks power and credibility.

        Sometimes that works to our advantage, like when the Downing Street Memos or election fraud stories were finally picked up by major news organization.

        But it can work to the exact opposite effect as shown with the CBS MemoGate affair when the entrenched conservative interests manipulated their "bloggers" to mount a coordinated and successful attack on a bastion of old media.

        "It's just like the 60's, only with less hope." -Justin Bond in the film "Shortbus" (-6.38/ -4.21)

        by wonkydonkey on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 01:50:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Evolution, democracy and capitalism. To this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wonkydonkey, CarterDulka

    if we add decency then we have a chance. Lack of decency is chiefly the main reason why we've arrived at this junction, and it's not pretty.

    Freedom...er...FreeDems are on the March, boy George!!

    by Asinus Asinum Fricat on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 01:04:01 PM PDT

  •  Bring on the technology!!! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wonkydonkey

    ...the question for us Kossacks is this: is the vehicle of the new technologies so inherently progressive and consistent with our values that we will "own" it for the foreseeable future?  

    Or because these new methods are so without any way to validate the worth their message, that they will be seized, like Talk Radio was, by the forces of corporate fascism and perverted, like Powerline or RedState to be used to secure the anti-democratic agenda?

    It will be seized like all new things that find our children's imagination. Maybe, it will give more teeth to the youth vote - but it won't have as much an agenda as we do. However, we can influence that agenda by not turning away from the changes that come to embrace us. Bring on the technology!!!

    Consider; is it better to plot a strategy and wait, or set a course, and run? - BMM

    by keechi on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 01:07:10 PM PDT

    •  I tend agree with you... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      keechi

      ...like the use of fax machines brought about the Tiananmen Square student protests by going around the Communist Chinese media monopoly, or that text messaging and cell phones helped propel the Ukrainian "Orange Revolution," proliferating technology is one step ahead of the efforts to control it.

      But then I think about masses of youth isolating themselves into their own personal iPod ghetto consciousness or how the NSA is probably monitoring all of our Internet activity in a way that would make Big Brother jealous, and I'm not so sure.

      "It's just like the 60's, only with less hope." -Justin Bond in the film "Shortbus" (-6.38/ -4.21)

      by wonkydonkey on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 01:16:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  This is just my feeling -- (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wonkydonkey, keechi

        I don't have any data on this -- but my feeling is that Web 2.0 and its brethren are increasing fragmentation.  Looking all around me, the number of people who are more interested in what the stranger on the other side of the world has to say than they are interested in what the person right next to them has to say -- that is a large number, from what I can see.

        I much prefer the chaos of real life over the customized life I can create for myself on the computer.

        ----------------
        The trouble with the world is that the stupid are always cocksure and the intelligent are always filled with doubt. -- Bertrand Russell

        by gpm on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 01:28:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  And isn't that because we have total control... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gpm, keechi

          ...over the identity we chose and the environment we construct online, unlike the less comfortable conflict and contradictions of the real world?

          Isn't it the path of least resistance to choose to surround ourselves, like the Bush Bubble, only with those who already agree with us, than to endure the competiveness abrasion of rubbing up against humanity in its infinite variety?

          Is it only an enlightened few that will take the higher "meta" view of the beneficial nature of the dialectic, while the vast majority prefer the sweet narcotic of bobble-head consensus?

          "It's just like the 60's, only with less hope." -Justin Bond in the film "Shortbus" (-6.38/ -4.21)

          by wonkydonkey on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 01:37:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  It all boils down to one word for me, Democracy. (3+ / 0-)

      Bush has hijacked ours and Christianity as he accuses the Islamist's of doing to Islam. I am afraid of what the Repubs are going to pull underhandedly too keep their dirty hands in Power.
      I am afraid we are tipping towards Anerchy if we want our Democracy and America back. Good Diary!

    Repug credo: If you can't Dazzle them with Brilliance Baffle them with Bullshit! http://anaverageamericanpatriot.blogspot.com

    by jmsjoin on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 01:11:39 PM PDT

    •  There were few systems as "dirty" as... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CarterDulka, jmsjoin

      ...Soviet communism, and yet it fell with barely a whimper when the consensus of virtually the entire society was that it failed and that change was necessary.  Granted it took decades and millions sacrificed to trying to "perfect" society in the image of the Politboro, but in the end it was a handful of mujahadeen in Afghanistan, mimeograph machines running off copies of "samizadt," and blue jeans advertisements from the West that dissolved the regime's foundation.

      "It's just like the 60's, only with less hope." -Justin Bond in the film "Shortbus" (-6.38/ -4.21)

      by wonkydonkey on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 01:23:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Just think man! We have taken on this "handful of (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wonkydonkey

        Mujahadeen" in Afghanistan and a so called handfull in Iraq to boot. We will get the same treatment despite the hard work of our children thanks to the idiot attacking Iraq.
          As with Russia there will be an endless supply of those wanting to be with the 72 virgins, now in Iraq and Afghanistan, and wherever this spreads, especially in the middle east and the idiot knew this and more before ha again ignored good advice and did what he the "mis"Decider wanted to do.

        Repug credo: If you can't Dazzle them with Brilliance Baffle them with Bullshit! http://anaverageamericanpatriot.blogspot.com

        by jmsjoin on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 02:17:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Being a geek (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wonkydonkey, CarterDulka

    and starting a wiki and blog and other online means of communication at work along with a blog for Steve Young - Ca 48th which I will shamelessly plug with a link your diary is very timely.

    I think we are in the very early stages of Web 2.0 and DKos is a very early part of that process. I think that RSS needs to mature a lot more in order for it to take off like we want it too.

    It's getting there with Juice and others soon to follow. But it's going to take some effort to get people to feel comfortable with Web 2.0 extending the web reach for everyone to also be more specific in dealing with overload.

    I'm still experimenting with it as are others and I'm finding the most difficult part to bring in others so that our blog is not my voice alone. That's not Web 2.0 specific but is me having to learn how to reach people through this medium. I suspect I'm not alone.

    DKos will not go away but I think we'll see a rise of better local sites that allow people to satisfy the latter part of "think globally, act locally".

    It's a blast.

    -4.25, -6.87: Someday, after the forest fire of the Right has died we'll say "Whew, I'm happy that's over."

    by CanYouBeAngryAndStillDream on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 01:23:21 PM PDT

    •  RSS is a great point I didn't think to include (0+ / 0-)

      Thanks for mentioning it.

      If you've ever seen me "shamelessly plugging" some of my snarky creations around multiple threads, you'll know that this is a glass house where I'd be the last to cast a stone.  Plug away, mate!

      "It's just like the 60's, only with less hope." -Justin Bond in the film "Shortbus" (-6.38/ -4.21)

      by wonkydonkey on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 01:26:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Since I am guessing that most here (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wonkydonkey, CarterDulka

    will take the position that blogs, etc. are good for democracy, I will say that they are not.  I'm not sure I believe this, but I may.

    While I love the collaborative and information-disseminating aspects of DKos, as a participatory form it has a major flaw, which is that everybody here wants to agree most of the time.  I mean, look at some of the nonsensical and/or trivial comments that get recommends (whatever that means).

    There is dissent and disagreement here, but I rarely see debate over issues.  To the extent that there is debate here, it is usually over the nuance of an argument, or a minor detail within a larger framework that is agreed upon.  In the few cases where somebody does come out and say something like, "We should have gone to war in Iraq," he is immediately troll-rated off the board.  (Let me point out that I don't have a problem with this, as the purpose of the blog is not to debate issues like this in this way.)

    In less-controversial instances of disagreement, the reaction I see most commonly is silence.  That is, I've seen a number of cases where somebody will post a comment that is diametrically opposed to the CW of the blog, but is well-defended, and that comment gets 0 or 1 recommend and no responses.

    Now, what's the problem?  Like I mentioned earlier, this is not where right and left come to debate issues, this is where lefties (mild progressives to radical loonies) come to get Democrats elected.  However, in the larger framework, the ability of people to get news and "debate" in a way that tends to reinforce their views is not healthy, and yet a lot of us tend towards that.

    I believe it is much healthier for democracy to have 100 people with different views in a room together (recognizing that personas change on the internet), fighting the issues out, than for all of us to retreat to our respective safe places and pat each other on the back.

    To the extent that Web 2.0 enables our tunnel vision, it is bad for democracy.

    ----------------
    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are always cocksure and the intelligent are always filled with doubt. -- Bertrand Russell

    by gpm on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 01:37:32 PM PDT

    •  And even here on Daily Kos... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      pop tart, gpm

      ...what would happen if we didn't have a Kos to enforce some rules and assert some privileges, where it be outlawing conspiracy theories or accepting chevron blogads?

      The recent Buffy phenomenon rather proves your point, where the desire to do the right thing swept up hundreds of people into a near hysteria that may or may not have been a good thing.

      "It's just like the 60's, only with less hope." -Justin Bond in the film "Shortbus" (-6.38/ -4.21)

      by wonkydonkey on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 01:42:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  EXACTLY! (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nolalily, wonkydonkey, Dave the Rave

        The indy675 diary actually bothers me a lot more.  The subtext of that diary was, "This is what Republicans are like: They beat people up simply for their opinions."  It was credible to, and recommended by, so many people here because it conforms with our biases.

        You may disagree that this was the subtext.  If so, please try to imagine the reaction to a diary that, with the same amount of evidence as indy675 presented (namely, none), made the claim that somebody's roommate was beaten up by a gang of black kids, and that the beating happened simply because he was white.

        I will bet you dollars to donuts that the writer of such a diary would have been troll-rated and subjected to all manner of abuse, because the stereotype presented by such a diary (the predatory black man) is one we don't like.  But when the stereotype is of a gang of authoritarian Republican thugs, we swallow it hook, line, and fucking sinker.

        Because it reinforces what we already believe.

        ----------------
        The trouble with the world is that the stupid are always cocksure and the intelligent are always filled with doubt. -- Bertrand Russell

        by gpm on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 01:59:12 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  "reinforcing what we already believe" (0+ / 0-)

          is the hot front page topic of the moment regarding the commanding role of Iraq in the election as it relates to the utter loss of credibility of the Republicans on the subject.

          It's Iraq by DemFromCT:
          http://www.dailykos.com/...

          "It's just like the 60's, only with less hope." -Justin Bond in the film "Shortbus" (-6.38/ -4.21)

          by wonkydonkey on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 02:07:07 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Here at kos... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wonkydonkey

        ...us regular bloggers are lucky to have posts that are listed in the top 50 for maybe even 3 hours on average - not much time to create any kind of phenomenon. People might find your work through tags - or you might be rescued. It feels a bit a drag to work a piece for several days and then worry if it will even be seen - and what time to post so to best find your readers - so many other unknowns. I posted a new Diary today I’d worked on a week, and it was gone before I could get back from the grocery store. I guess the longer you stay – perhaps the more Hotlists you’ll get on – and maybe that’s how you build your following...

        Consider; is it better to plot a strategy and wait, or set a course, and run? - BMM

        by keechi on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 05:47:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Web inherently political? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wonkydonkey

    Blogs are not like op-ed pieces because the ability to discuss, not just comment.

    Web sites are not like bulletin boards because of links, video, and search engines.

    There is little doubt the technology offers many new things.

    But are these things inherently progressive, liberal, or democratic?  I don’t think so.  It’s more like that computer savvy people tend to be progressive, liberal and Democratic.  This will change with time.  Just as early TV had Murrow and know has Couric. Who knows, maybe the next "Contract on America" will be web based movement.

    Do the right thing 'casue it feels better.

    by John Boy on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 03:53:11 PM PDT

  •  see also (0+ / 0-)

    my afternoon essay on new media. Given my involvement with Daily Kos and Flu Wiki, I'm with Anderson, and the endorsements of Flu Wiki by CDC, WHO etc, speak to the quality of the wisdom of crowds.

    It's nice to have expert opinion as well; sometimes it's well informd and sometimes completely wrong.

    "Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies." - Groucho Marx

    by Greg Dworkin on Sun Oct 15, 2006 at 05:58:45 PM PDT

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