“The cat is out of the bag,” Scott Heiferman, CEO of MeetUp.com told the Nation in April 2004, when they talked about the Dean Campaign in 2003 and 2004. And certainly, the cat was out of the bag, and it might even be clearer now during the 2008 presidential campaign than it seemed at the time.
Source: Unofficial Bat Archive
What is fascinating about Dean’s campaign is that he succeeded in raising money and facilitating a political conversation online by ceding control of his campaign to its base. The campaign built an organization that was so different from what we are used to see in political campaigns. It was a combination of Joe Trippi’s brilliance and the campaign’s lack of money that created this organization based on open source, collaboration, and conversation and left the top-down military structure as an ideal. I guess at this point in history politics joined the trend of open source as a way to organize and as software that could support online communities.
When I was reading “Deanspace, Social Networks, and Politics” by Jon Lebkowsky, I realized that Dean’s campaign was not so much about the Internet as I thought. It is much more about social networking. Social networks grow exponentially and “may result in deeper engagement” (Lebkowsky). It seems like BeckBlogic Weblog and I have noted the same sentences in this essay, please read this entry about sociologist, Mark Granovetter’s idea of “the strength of weak ties” which means: “Supporters will sign up supporters who will sign up even more supporters, so the growth through group-forming is a social network explosion, and the value is not just in the numbers there”(Lebkowsky). This idea of Group-Forming Networks is fascinating, and I am realizing that this idea was part of “the talk of the time” like the bestseller book The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell published in 2002. Dean might not be way ahead of his time, but he was way ahead of the political establishment in both the Republican and Democratic parties in harnessing the power of many.