More politics: Are weblogs the salvation of politics?

Jim Moore: The Democratic Party needs to be more about Democracy. The idea of having the candidates blog is tied in an old idea of the President as a father. The Republicans are about the strict father, the Democrats are about the nurturant parent, and today people don’t want either. I want a platform on which we can create a world. This is what I like about what’s going on about the campaign blogs.

Josh Marshall: The idea that the candidate can have a hands-on daily involvement with the blog is crazy. Chris Lydon: But couldn’t the candidate be more efficient?

Phil Wolff: I live in Oakland, CA, and the Kerry and Dean meetups are white. In Oakland. We still have to go to television, other media, door-to-door to reach the core constituencies who aren’t on line. Joe: Agrees.

Eric: We keep saying since 1992, “This is the year the web makes the difference.” Then came 2000; Bush pumped 500 emails into Florida, we didn’t. We can do that now, respond to people how they want to be reached. 500 votes can make a presidency.

Presidential blogs continued

Dave: Will the Republicans blog? Will George Bush make use of blogs? Matt: His message is already spinning out of control, he doesn’t need additional randomization. Eric: In 2000 the Republicans were really good about pumping out stuff to the fan base. They were way ahead of us. We’re writing to our base. Dave: What about after the election? Matt: Look for the White House Blog.

Audience Republican member: The Bush folks sent out an email that we could incorporate a sidebar on our site to include headlines from their site, it wasn’t interesting to me.

Glenn Reynolds: I’m not a Republican, I voted Clinton in 1992 and worked on Gore’s campaign in ’88. And they’re really far behind. Karl Rove wrote their strategy, and he’s a control freak. And there are some things that could happen on the blog that could spin out of control. Matt: Real leadership means letting go of control. Eric: We’re only worried about technical issues. Matt: Worst case scenario, we melt down.

Matt: We just keep an idea out for the trolls. We all started the Troll Fund. Every time someone comes in and makes a troll comment, we all kick in $10 to the Dean campaign. It tends to stop the trolls.

Question: What about cyberwarfare? What about official commitments to get candidate involvement? Cam: We have to work with the schedulers to get candidate involvement, and they don’t exactly understand blogs.

Question: What about control? The Dean campaign is probably the most open. Cam, do you want the Clark campaign to be as open? Cam: Not jealous, respectful, and we want to implement a lot of the Dean campaign ideas.

Question: How do people really influence the campaigns? Matt: Bush raised $5 million in $2000 checks, Dean raised $5 million in $87 checks. Dave: What about answering questions? What about raising money on the Internet and giving it to Hollywood to make TV commercials? … Matt: We are going to get the money out into the communities to empower people.

Amy Wohl: $5 million in $87 contributions is a hell of a lot more votes than $5 million in $2000 contributions. But what about hearing the candidate’s voice? None of these campaign blogs are the campaign blogging. Matt: Yeah, but it’s really hard to do it. We don’t pretend it’s a candidate’s blog, it’s a campaign blog. I don’t think Glenn Reynolds could do it. (Glenn: If elected, I will not serve!)

Mike Huff: If you think the campaign is intense now, it’s nothing—having worked on two campaigns now—like what it’ll be the day after New Hampshire. Matt: The human contact is the best we can do right now. Eric: Right now we just raise money for the general. After the primary, we let the candidate handle the message and we try to get the vote out.


Political blogs

Weblogs in Presidential Politics. Dave moderates, Eric Folley (DNC), Joe Jones (Graham), Mathew Gross (Dean), Cameron Barrett (Clark).

Eric: The vetting process is emailing to a list. Only legal can veto if we’re breaking a law. And either Communications or Research has to approve, since they’re the fact checkers.


Matt: We’re doing 2200 comments a day on our site. On average 12-14 posts a day. We try to keep the page moving to keep the audience’s attention.

Dave: What are you going to do in a month?

Matt: Well, I’ve hired two assistants.

Dave: That’s the mythical man-month. Asks how do you scale

Matt: We made the first big strides.

Dave: What about giving everyone in the campaign a blog?

Matt: Well, there are a ton of non-campaign blogs, and they will be out there even if we get trolled.

Dave: Will the other campaigns host blogs? Joe: We’re looking at it. Eric: The DNC won’t be hosting weblogs. We can’t afford it. Dave: Don’t the blogs pay for themselves?

Chris Lydon: What makes a candidate bloggable? Cam: Theoretically any candidate with personality is bloggable. Ed Cone: But my senator, Edwards, is charismatic and a good communicator, and his blog sucks. What makes a blog work? Joe: It has to be personal. Matt: There’s no central organizing committee at the Dean campaign. We’re personal and we respond quickly. Dave: Is the DNC a good blog? Matt: I read it, but when the Research division posts I’m not interested. Eric: We had a rule that there had to be names, but the Research Division wanted to be a division, so we said OK. That might change.

Question: How do blogs change campaigns? Cam: We read all the comments and it affects the blog and the speeches. Esther: What about the policies? Joe: Policy doesn’t matter. Dave: But doesn’t the blog allow us to expose policies? Joe: Blogs are about building community and buzz. Dave: Isn’t that what got us into trouble in 2000? Matt: It depends on if the campaign is hierarchical with layers on layers or really responsive. We respond in realtime to those comments.

Question: How can we best use blogs? Bloggers are only 2% of the vote. How can we win with them? Dave: What about journalists? They don’t treat 2% of the vote.


Cluetrain 2003 continued

Question: Human nature… human nature seeks facts that support your point of view. That speaks against truth.

Dave: Let’s take it as read that it doesn’t change human nature. But what if it allows an older human nature to come out? We used to sing songs around campfires and didn’t worry about being perfect. Why worry about something awful happening until it happens? I get more flamed than anyone; if I can stay optimistic, so can anyone.

Chris: What needs to happen about globalization? What about the rest of the world? What about Eastern Europe?

Adam: What about Europe? This conference has been very US centric. What about world issues? Did you know in Brussels they’re building a single European government with a single currency?

Question: What if our interconnected network comes under attack in such a way that it all falls over? Or what if it becomes subject to something like the rise of Hitler via evil memes? Jim: Yeah, I’m worried about it. But all I can do is write positive memes into it and keep experimenting. We’re in early times.

Kevin Marks: The Net is a mirror—you see things that you look for in it. You can see dark things or good things. —On the Net you see power distributions. I plotted out lists of popularity. On the Web it goes all the way down to one incoming link. In other media it suddenly tapers off because of the barrier to entry. You can get enormous returns.

Britt Blaser: This is utopia, by our grandparents’ standards; the only reason we think it’s so hard is because our dreams are so high that it sucks in comparison. But we had this happen once before, in the explosion of the printing press fueled by coffee. Individual essays, widely disseminated. Dave is Samuel Jonson.

Dan Gillmor: This is like the emergence of MIDI in music, which allowed music to be made accessible.

Question: It’s not the tool, it’s whatever we’re doing here that’s different. We need to figure out what it is that we’re really doing here and protect that.

Doc: What’s happening here is that the demand side of journalism has been enabled to supply. The same thing has happened with education. My sense is that weblogs have exploded the masses. I don’t see masses when I blog.

Amy Wohl: I gave speeches and had no way to find out what my listeners wanted to hear until I started blogging. And the same thing is happening with people all over the world.

The optimism panel: There is a soul and heartbeat in this medium, and that in itself is a promise of transformation.

Cluetrain 2003 continued

Peter Winer: Can I ask a disruptive question? How do we get people to stop watching TV and start reading blogs? —TV usage is dropping, broadband users drop like crazy. Adam: People are getting tired of the dishonesty, of being hypnotized by television. Chris: You can blog and have the television on at the same time. People graze… it’s like bridge, which gives people something to think about while they’re talking.

Esther Dyson: How do we get people other than the elites blogging? Isn’t it too early to declare victory? (the backchannel and murmuring is loud on this one)

Dan Gillmor: How does this get less messy? Elizabeth: I read thousands of blogs, the problem is filtering…to a large extent I think it’s a technical problem. Audience member It’s about trust and it works in the blogosphere as well.

Jason Goldman from Blogger: How do you get the non-geeky to post? Liz: A lot of people aren’t aware that Gawker is a blog.

Side note: Bootleg video feed, intermittent, courtesy Kevin Marks.

David Weinberger: The blog world is the death of the illusion of objectivity. We have multiple overlapping subjectivities on line now. Truth lives on line Jim: I’m not sure I agree. There are those who think that hate will win on the Internet. But we can make it happen.

Lis Riba: But every new medium starts with high goals and ends in Weekly World News and garbage. Chris: I disagree. Esther: I’m old enough and wise enough not to count out human nature…

Doc: I don’t want it to be regulated or protected. I think the tide is turning in Congress, the DMCA could never be passed today. Emergent democracy is less important to some than emergent governance, when any citizen can get in touch with their government and have an impact.

Jeff Jarvis Here’s an idea for the transformation: it’s the death of the gateway (to information, knowledge, entertainment… Question: But doesn’t big media own the servers?

More to come.

The backchannel: how to filter the signal from the noise

There’s a killer backchannel on the IRC, #bloggercon:

RossR (2:48:47PM): kevin: yes, but that’s a luxury that we have now because the s/n ratio is still good…

KevinMarks (2:49:01PM): no, there is a lot fo noise
RossR (2:49:01PM): …it won’t be always.

KevinMarks (2:49:06PM): but we pick what is signal

KevinMarks (2:49:20PM): there are 1,000,000 blogs

KevinMarks (2:49:23PM): at least
dsifry-afb (2:49:27PM): wheee!

KevinMarks (2:49:30PM): most of them I’m nto interested in
RossR (2:49:32PM): wait till it starts looking like your inbox..
.heiko-afb (2:49:39PM): Just because Yahoo has a bad quarter doesn’t mean the Internet is not going to be used by every man, woman, and child, and business on this planet in the next decade”

houseofwarwick (2:49:42PM): LOL: osama on livejournal, blogroll

mama-writing (2:49:54PM): people like dave sifry have done a lot to build signal filters into the system itself.
KevinMarks (2:50:11PM): but blogging (sans comments) are pre-filtered
dsifry-afb (2:50:11PM): wheee (2:50:13PM)
•hanknwillie has joined #bloggercon
KevinMarks (2:50:25PM): dsifry is channelling britta
KevinMarks (2:50:42PM): Doc knows where the crack is
mama-writing (2:51:01PM): Kevin, I disagree. There’s a large amount of noise in the blogospher, and that will just get worse. (Much like Usenet, I suspect)
houseofwarwick (2:51:03PM): Doc’s on a roll “NO ADAM YOU’RE WRONG”
KevinMarks (2:51:14PM): but you don’t have to read it all liz
dsifry-afb (2:51:16PM): noise is in the eye of the beholder
houseofwarwick (2:51:17PM): bloggers in baghdad?
houseofwarwick (2:51:26PM): kevin sites yes
mama-writing (2:51:27PM): Maybe Dave can tell someone they’re full of shit, just so that they know he appreciates them.
RossR (2:51:30PM): as the ratio gets worse, it will be harder to make the interconnects…
KevinMarks (2:51:32PM): each blog has a voice
RossR (2:51:39PM): look at blogroll rot as the first example of that…

RossR (2:51:52PM): the connections are degrading already… (2:51:53PM)•
mama-writing looks at schedule to see when Joi’s talking…
KevinMarks (2:51:55PM): blogroll rot is a symptom of RSS uptake
houseofwarwick (2:51:55PM): yes kevin, ross, both right
cadence90 (2:52:03PM): I enjoy weeding my blogroll.
JoiIto (2:52:17PM): Tomorrow afternoon….
KevinMarks (2:52:18PM): and lousy blogging tools ofr editn blogrolls
cadence90 (2:52:19PM): But I like things that give me an illusion of control, I like to wash my car, too.
houseofwarwick (2:52:24PM): weeding makes my knees hurt
mama-writing (2:52:26PM): Kevin, I think you’re right. people who don’t use aggregators tend to prune their blogrolls more carefully, I think.
JoiIto (2:52:27PM): is good…
RossR (2:52:30PM): cadence – you shouldn’t have to…your aggregator should do that for you (presuming that your blogroll is a list of sites that you read)….
KevinMarks (2:52:31PM): and removing peopel from blogrolls is tricky
(2:52:31PM)•PhilWolff has joined #bloggercon
houseofwarwick (2:52:42PM): yescadence90 (2:52:52PM): What would make it easier is if I could figure out a way to display “this blog last posted to”
Tim (2:52:52PM): agreed
RossRheiko-afb (2:52:55PM): tricky and political
mama-writing (2:52:59PM): aggregators are private. blogrolls are public/private
cadence90 (2:52:59PM): I’ll get there at some point.
houseofwarwick (2:53:00PM): removing is tricky–people are good to read even if they don’t post often

Cluetrain 2003: The Second Superpower

Chris Lydon with Adam Curry, Doc Searls, Dave Weinberger, Elizabeth Spiers, Jim Moore. Chris: How is the transformation proceeding?

Doc: The revolution started with the personal computer and is continuing. Look at RSS-Data, I was talking with Jeremy Allaire on the web.

Adam: I see weblogs a little differently, they’re just a tool. We use them like the telephone used to be used, to call ahead and let them know a telegram has arrived. It’s already totally transformed broadcast and radio. I wake up in the morning and the latest Chris Lydon interview is on my iPod.

Chris: What is this revolution bigger than? The Internet? The TV? Human speech?

Adam: It’s like we’re transmitting brainwaves to each other; direct routers. I said I was out of power on my blog, Doc saw it, and passed his power adapter down to me.

Elizabeth: I’m a navel gazer. I started in 2000 and stopped, and then in 2001 I started again… and I said that “oh, blogs will never get into the media.” But now the media are working on figuring out how to incorporate it. Chris: I saw you quoted somewhere saying that having a blog in a few years would be like email.

Jim: This is huge. The idea was that the blogosphere was the second superpower countering the Bush administration. Not an original idea, but I started to think about how it could be done. I think we’re thinking about how to do it in this room.

Chris: So you’re a 10? I want to take it beyond 10. I’ve drunk the Dave Winer Kool-Aid one too many times. He cites Emerson, universal spirit …we are all connected to it, for which the Internet is a perfect electronic metaphor.

DocEmerson? What about Ben Franklin? What about Thomas Paine? I think we’re dismantling the Matrix—which I think is a metaphor for the media. There’s a lot more going on in the Blogosphere than in the mass media.

Chris: I think we want to be a lot more vocal about what we’ve discovered. Jim, explain how we implement it. Where is the power of the second superpower?

Jim I think it’s a mistake to think of it as an individual phenomenon. I think a lot of the power is in the collective phenomenon, all the metadata and the links as everything. Howard Rheingold talks about smart mobs, but we need wise mobs. I think we had the war correct, that the war couldn’t solve the problem of peace in the Middle East…and we’re seeing that now.

Adam: It’s like Network. The network itself yelled out the window, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!” Doc: Back in 1974, that was the only choice we had. I think a lot of people are still withholding judgment. I think we need more bloggers in Iraq, in the troops… But I think the trick is to connect (differing opinions), to treat it with respect.

Short panel — the pros on journalism

Scott Rosenberg of Salon, moderating with Len Apcar from the New York Times and James Taranto from the Wall Street Journal.

James: Best of the Web is a column in blog form. Not a blog—published on a schedule rather than at will. Loosely edited. Not monetized.

Len: We’re thinking about blogging. We haven’t really done anything like this before. Discusses Nicholas Kristof on the road who blogs things that he might want to correct and report on later In my mind it was an experiment between me and Nick to see how it works. It’s worked pretty well. Nick is in the business of opinion.…We argue about the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge but very few people have been on the ground; Nick went and did a fantastic job. …Nick is posting directly. There have been just a few times in six months where I’ve said “I don’t know if I’m comfortable with this phrasing.”

What about the ability of weblogs to bring back stories that wouldn’t go anywhere like Trent Lott? James: Josh Marshall deserves a lot of credit. Len: Before blogs there were other vehicles—trade publications, newsletters, magazines—that follow at a granular level [have] always been providing stories to bigger newspapers. None of this surprises me. I think that what’s happened is that this is now all around us. James: What’s new is that Romanesco’s site was used as a bulletin board for internal grievances. The internal workings were exposed.

Question: Nick wasn’t edited? Is that fair to other editorial page contributors? Answer: By default, editorial writers are edited—they provide 2500 words that have to be cut to 700, so that’s a negotiation.

Question: Are bloggers read in media? How much of an influence do they have? Len: Yes, not sure how much.

Doc Searls: What about making archives linkable? Dave: Before fall of 2001, it works. After, until April 2003, black hole. Negotiations with Google and Userland to allow access via specially formatted URLs.

Jay Rosen, NYU: I believe you said you were considering doing weblogs for the campaign… Why don’t you get someone from both journalism and weblogs working on it? (substantially paraphrased) Len: How many of you know The Boys on the Bus? We might do this but there are issues about disclosure, and how long before the bloggers get kicked off the bus?

Education cont’d

Glenn asks about making this available for other people. What about other countries? Another asks about inclusion vs. exclusion–minorities, inner cities. Jenny suggests libraries, despite disparity in funding, might be the right way to go.

Side note: Cool article about BloggerCon attendee posting habits; thanks Lisa for the link.

Side note #2: If you’re interested, join #bloggercon on to get the backchatter in the conference site.

Other thoughts: It’s hard to convince districts that this is a good use of technology. Control issues, tech support issues, etc.

How to make room for blogging in curriculum? Pat: Have teachers teach teachers. But stop busting public schools every time there’s a problem.

Q: What is cooperative weblogging? Does it open new academic and educational frontiers? Brian: It happened because we wanted to share readers and be able to take days off, but has become something else.

Conclusion: Pent-up interest in doing this in schools, radical shift in and from students wrt expectations.

Lance Knoebel and Blogs in Education

Worlds spill over, says Lance. Education is broad and encompasses a lot. Panelists: Pat Delaney, AKM Adam, Brian Weatherson, Kaye Trammel, Jenny Levine.

Pat: Pitching writing blogs to teachers: busy and don’t do anything that doesn’t make their work better. He calls it “digital paper”: blogs help enable reading, writing, and researching much easier. Is it ease of use or openness?

AKMA: My students are all expecting to become clergy. The openness is a problem; they’re in dread that the bishop will catch them saying something they shouldn’t. I have to work with people to convince them that they’re going to be public speakers.

Brian: It’s not really a problem–bad reasoning is ok because you can go back the best day and flesh it out. The issue is commenting on other people’s writing and having it get back to them.

Kaye: Understanding the standards for blogs vs. for papers is different. The students contribute to a group blog and to a class blog. People will say things even though it’s a class project that they might not say otherwise. Lance: who sets the standards? Kaye: I do, but they need to understand what the standards are and will be.

Pat: We all have to worry about standards: CIPA, COPA, bomb threats; if something happens like writing “fuck you” on a blog server, the admin goes to the superintendent and parents and says this happens; the server gets shut down. We need to understand the legal issues and set expectations. Second: content management: split between personal and public–everyone has this access, some get to promote out content. –Writers earn audiences, they don’t just “get” them–maybe part of the process should be this promotional aspect.

Kaye: Publicness is part of the process. Papers can be written drunk at 3 am and only the professor knows but anyone could be reading a weblog. This is why I did Hooblogs, to link up all the UVA folks and make sure that they knew someone was out there.

Comment from the audience: Now we scale this up and students all over the world are producing all the content! There are classes where students are filling content gaps.

Question: Are weblogs something that everybody should do, or something that like singing that everyone shouldn’t be doing in public? Ken: It’s digital paper. Everyone should know how to use it. Kaye: Everyone should have a voice, and understand how to use their voice to promote their concerns.

Ken: But only schools with money for reliable servers have a voice. What about inner city schools?

Question: supply and demand, power laws–who gets the attention? AKMA: Internal readership grows slowly into a pool of a truly interested audience.

Halley Suitt: Do kids learn useful skills in school? Can blogs help break down the school walls? AKMA: Things like OpenCourseWare break down some of the walls and get learning out of the institution–so that it doesn’t happen only from September through May. “Desegregation of learning.”

Phil Greenspun: How do you use weblogs to teach learning? Ken: iSearch. AKMA: Group critiques of sermons.

Cy: Who cares about hit counts? Given all the Glenn Reynolds’ out there, it’s great that I get hits at all!

I’m going to continue this in another post–I keep screwing up and losing changes.

Backroom discussions

In the spirit of “everything on the record,” here are some quick discussions from the break:

Phil Wolff is really cool. I think I’m going to have to get with him to crunch some of his data–he’s getting definitive lists of blogs from some of the crawling services. He says Dave Sifry doesn’t want to give up his raw list for intellectual property reasons. I suggested that he could one-way hash the list and then compare the hashes so that we could determine overlap. We’ll see how it goes.

Susan from Boston College: we talked about how blogs might be used in marketing. I suggested that bloggers might be open to being approached by individual marketers to talk about their products as long as (a) they aren’t treated as consumers but as individuals, (b) the individual comes as a real individual rather than as the voice of the company. I need to flesh out that thought more thoroughly later.

Betsy Devine is cool–we talked a bit about her ongoing conversation around the White House leaks.

In a few conversations, I’ve had to repeat my statement from earlier this week. I’m here to listen; I’m an individual blogger, but Microsoft is on my badge and pays my bills. The crowd understands this for the most part; they’ve all been there.

Interview with a blogger: Dan Gillmor, Doc Searls

Dave: Is there a conflict of interest between the presidential candidate and the media? Yes. Is there visibility? No. How do you draw the line?

Dan: Not a single line. It’s like with any institution. I work for them… For blogging, transparency is more about exposing how I do the blog than exposing the institution. You want me to tell all, but you don’t do that for Harvard, do you?

Dave: The issue that raised this was the Mercury News pulling down Dan’s archive.

Question: What about John Robb?

Dave: I can’t comment on that, I have shareholder responsibility, and there are laws that protect the employee’s rights in California. And that’s all I can say right now. There are lots of things we can’t talk about. But there’s an industry that controls the flow of news, and we don’t see them.

Doc: I think there’s more transparency than there have been. Maybe the boiler rooms aren’t exposed but there are more people on the inside that are blogging so you see what’s going on.

Dave: But is there a conflict with presidential campaigns and the media?

… Dan: I think the media don’t do a good job of covering the media. But I don’t think Jayson Blair would be uncovered by a four page spread in the New York Times, but rather in the Washington Post and everything else.

Dave: xxx, can you comment?

xxx: I think the area of opaque media is coming to an end. The Times used the word transparency and even more incredibly accountability ….

Quick notes

My network connection has been up and down here for a while. I’m going to post my notes now and add links later.

From the Blogs in Journalism panel:

  • Ed Cone: to my left, physically, is Glenn Reynolds, the dirk diggler of hit count
  • Scott Rosenberg, who has been in this business long enough that he has options that he still thinks will be worth something someday
  • josh marshall
  • glenn gets “more hits than Adam Curry in Amsterdam coffee houses”
  • what can individual blogs do, where can they go that journalists can’t
  • when do we get more transparency out of big journalism?
    • answers: legal liabilities
    • we are getting more voices but the institution itself won’t ever institutionally blog
    • josh marshall
      • a lot of people think that scooter livey is the guy
  • does most of the big news appear on blogs now?
  • do you publish if your source is unknown?
  • you can get libel insurance through your homeowners’ insurance as long as you’re not making money
  • issue with wilson’s wife
    • it doesn’t make sense to me because it requires people to be so absurdly stupid…
    • josh: “you don’t have the vengeance lobe in your brain”
    • do I have a responsibility to have an opinion?
    • this is crap, i don’t think there’s enough there to be a story
    • is there an obligation to reveal sources?
    • can I moderate for a second?
    • if you call people who question the success of the war a “fifth column”…
  • how do institutions work where there are individuals in the institution out blogging?
  • comments? diminishes responsibility
    • depends on the community
    • depends on who’s reading
  • who speaks? what’s the order?
    • blogging is prisoner’s dilemma
    • responsibility given because of the repeated nature of the game