What a difference

I have an ongoing debate with a colleague about whether the Interweb really affects the way politics works. She argues that email campaigns are ignored by politicians, that warm bodies are all that really matter. While I see her point about form letters, I still think she's missing something.

Last weekend the LA Times ran Terry McDermott's story "Blogs can top the presses" about how the blog Talking Points Memo worked with readers to bring the US Attorney scandal to light and put it on the DC agenda. As Ben Vershbow (if:book) explains:
"TPM's persistent muckraking was also instrumental in bringing national attention to the 2002 racial gaffe that cost Trent Lott his Senate leadership, to the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandals, and to the initially underappreciated public opposition to Bush's plan to privatize social security. Truly a force to be reckoned with."

1 comment:

dml said...

I can understand taking email campaigns with a grain of salt - anything easy to automate holds little weight. Indeed, I think we'd all prefer that someone in control of a botnet *not* be able to affect policy.

However, the Internet is so much more than email! (Well, it's mainly porn, but that's for another blog..) youtube, for instance, turned the tides in the midterm elections.

I think the key here is that, in part thanks to spam (who'd'a thunk?), users of the Internet have come to realize that pseudonyms (like email addresses) are cheap and are therefore given little weight, but persistent identity with some degree of history (like a blogger), or a youtube video, are truly noticed.

So let this be a call to arms to do what Ken and Mike are doing; make a net presense for yourself, give your electronic content more weight than a random spammer.. or just lip sync the Pokemon theme song on youtube.. yay Internet for making both choices equally influential!