On the request of management, I'm making this diary with some notes I wrote to put them up for discussion.
These are ideas I've had for a while, but they relate to the recent discussions about the impact of this community. I'll skip much of the backgound and analysis that justify my suggestion, and give you a quick digest geared towards the practical side of things.
As the saying goes, all politics is local, and blogs will have little impact until they start having a actual effect on local elections. Until then, there's little chance of having a more substantial impact nation-wide.
We need to create local online discourse and, rather than providing a comfortable online refuge with like-minded people, make that discourse lead to practical political engagement at a local level.
This relates to the question of whether the online political discourse and action will evolve to be geographical-based or issue-based. At this point it is much more issue-based, which can be wonderful to read but is woefully ineffective.
We need to create local community, make it have an impact on local politics, and tie local politics to national strategy. DailyKos has created some spin-off communities, but few of them are geographically based and they tend to struggle. By cutting off ties with the mother ship, they lose the huge flow of traffic that dkos provides, are hard to find for newcomers who naturally arrive through the biggest blog, and also suffer from the loss of established user identities and histories and associated trust.
I think that a reasonably simple extension of dkos would provide a huge first step in the right direction. Here's how it would go:
- Each user (you can even do this for non-registered visitors by using cookies) can select one geographical location. You can start with broader geographical areas, and then divide down as usage grows. The user should be able to go to their settings and change this easily, as a few people will want to keep tabs on more than one location.
- Each diary can be written as either a global diary or a local diary. When you write the diary, you have to mark a check box one way or the other (or a radio button that starts out with both options blank).
- The column with the diaries would include one more section, where the local diaries for your location would scroll (pushing down the blogroll and rss feeds a bit). Everything else stays as before (except that you need to work out all the additional details for the search feature, etc., but the solutions for that are fairly obvious).
These local communities could then start discussing, supporting and recruiting local candidates. Occasional visitors would be quickly and effectively exposed to local politics in their area, and many of them drawn to participate or at least to support candidates. And all this local activity would, by the very structure of the blog, be solidly anchored to the national discussion and strategy (with the influence going both ways).
The dkosopedia could also benefit from a lot more local focus, but this will be much easier to do when local communities solidify. Finally, the site could also provide better access to resources for political action but, again, geographical localization tied to national discourse and strategy is by far the most important issue.