O’Reilly eTech Goes Political in 2004

Steve Gillmor provides an insightful but at times bizarre stream of consciousness analysis of former Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi's keynote at the O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference, which was held in San Diego earlier this week*.

In a techno-zealous tone reminiscent of Dave Winer, Gillmor concludes the article with, “Trippi is not yet willing (at least publicly) to separate the candidate from the insurgent technology that launched him. But if there was a daily RSS briefing circulating to that new Insurgent Party campaign, you might be reading a more blunt assessment.When that feed exists, and comments are routed into relevant threads by social software dynamics, whichever candidate leverages the platform will have my vote.“  My emphasis.

“The Platform“, you ask?  Do Winer and Gillmor belong to the same secret society as Bush and Kerry?  I mean, what kind of rational person chooses a candidate based on whether or not they adopt a certain set of technologies to run their campaign?  Are Gillmor's “platform“ and Winer's “voter support system for the rational person's party“ (VSSRPP:-) the product of the same persistent techno-socio-political meme?  Perhaps. Gillmor shares Winer's disdain for comments in blogs--a view that places them in the distinct minority among bloggers and the people who spend their free time thinking about what makes blogs work.

“Trippi correctly recognizes the tactical power of the onliner tools—blogs, wikis, the loose federation of emerging "social software." But as a straddler of both constituencies, he may be missing the political dynamics of the Internet world and technology's impact on the field troops in the campaign.

Take blog comments—please. The CTOs of the various campaigns defend their use as a simple user interface for casual involvement by newbies. But converting the undecided into active offline participation involves more than just the harvesting of good ideas. Comments destroy the signal to noise ratio of blog brands, trading the appearance of democratic participation for muddied messaging and vulnerability to comment spamming.

Instead, authenticated private RSS feeds could replace e-mail and public blogs as a collaboration engine, routing separate comment feeds via group filtering to allow good ideas to bubble up and noise to wash out of the system. Dynamic group formation and attention feedback loops such as Technorati's attention.xml service could be harnessed to manage rapid response teams, monitor media trends and squeeze more strategic business intelligence out of the information firehose.“

Gillmor also seems to be an advocate of the RSS, a blog syndication format that Winer passionately defends against newcomer, ATOM, behind which Google threw its support recently. Gillmor's mention of RSS would not have been noteworthy had it come a month or two ago.

*Scoble, Microsoft's blogger laureate, attended the Trippi keynote as well and reports in Comparing "spin" from bloggers and Reuters that Reuters' coverage of Trippis speech may have missed the mark... by a mile.  Go figure.  More thoughts on the Reuters flub via Winer's blog: http://journalism.nyu.edu/pubzone/weblogs/pressthink/2004/02/14/reuters_wrong.html.

Reuters vs. Bloggers: sydicator vs. syndicator.  Folks, this is a story is worth watching.

Additional blogger coverage of eTech from Tim Appnel.

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