Doc Weinberger part III: blogs and the Dean campaign

“So full disclosure: I was the Internet advisor for the Dean campaign, which means nothing. He lost, after all. He was a little governor with fringe views from Vermont. So why was he the front runner for months with the message, You have the power to take your country back?

“Normally politics works like marketing. Broadcast messages to the footsoldiers who will take it to the masses. Not much like democracy, is it? And you can’t turn it on its head—680,000 people can’t send messages directly to Dean. Intimacy doesn’t scale.

“So let’s give up some element of control. Put Dean in the center. Let users talk to each other, end node to end node, just like the Internet. We’ll set up an infrastructure and culture that encourages that and see what happens. And instead of a press person, let’s put a weblog in the middle of the campaign. And it effectively became the center of the campaign. The webloggers were able to speak like human beings. Not on message—Microsoft has 655 blogs and counting, and they’re not on message, but they’re being human faces. But better. Instead of marketing, you get loyalty. And engagement. Every campaign conversation contained the pros AND CONS of Dean’s candidacy. It was exciting, we felt that we were reclaiming democracy. Not from Republicans, but from marketers! Instead of being in messages, we were in conversations.

“So let’s talk about blogs. There was a reason the Dean campaign used them. They’re fundamentally about voice. Home pages were a place; blogs are a self. To do this, you have to write badly. If you’re not comfortable publishing rough drafts, you can’t be a blogger. You have to be subjective.”