From Dean to Obama - Four Years

That's the name of the session I'm at - Net Roots Nation in Austin. I'm listening to Joe Trippi, on a panel with Zephyr Teachout and others who ran Dean's campaign in 2004, along with panelists from Democracy for America, Media Matters and Huffington Post.

Trippi says that culturally, it's time for "bottom up" factors to make an impact. At the end of the Dean campaign, there were one million something blogs - now there are upwards of 80 million. In four years! Dean understood "bottom up" but it wasn't quite time - Obama understands "bottom up" because that's the way he came up as a community organizer. John McCain is just now figuring out the internet. He is no longer an "insurgent" candidate within the Republican party. He has some party connections. Obama is able to use bottom up and top down - best of both.

"People power" has taken on a life of its own and some progressive internet networks number in the thousands. There seems to be a consensus that this model works best because of the more flat nature of their organization. Traditional media is much more hierarchical, therefore less democratic. Content and good fact-checking matter as well - there must be a story, some movement, not just a bunch of neat features and services. It hasn't worked to "build it and they will come" - and Trippi feels most campaigns still aren't using the internet like they could. More people now have broadband and this is the first campaign to use independent video widely. Technology has levelled the playing field to an unprecented level.

In the future, campaigns will be managed by people who did not come up in a "top down" world. Campaigns that are listening to their constituents right now will probably win. Darcy Burner's campaign was given as a good example (by Trippi.)