Monday, July 07, 2008
US Vote: "Savvy use of the Internet"...again
Long, but interesting, reprint of a NYT article on MSNBC today: Barack Obama's use of the Internet in his campaign is being hailed as "revolutionary".
Obama has enlisted one of Facebook's founders, Chris Hughes (all of 24 years old), as his chief social networking guy. I'm only lately a fan of his work, but the guy does seem to know what he's doing. MyBarackObama.com (insiders call it MyBo, with the last "o" very definitely in lower case; MyBO clearly won't do) is, by all accounts, enormously successful, easy to use, widely leveraged, and an all-out hoot to be part of. I wouldn't know, as this is the first I've heard of it - I'm late to the party, as usual. However, as a new Facebook devotee, I'll go give it a peek.
Even if it's the greatest Web site in the history of all Web sites, I have to tell you that I am sick to death of hearing about how the Internet has "completely changed" the political arena, and how a candidate (usually the younger, hipper one) has "revolutionized" campaigning thru his team's use of the Web. This uber-hype started, I believe, with Howard Dean waaaayyyyyy back in 2000 and has kept going since. It reminds me a lot of the Internet bubble of the late 90's-early 00's in terms of the totally skewed bang-to-hype ratio.
Internet campaigning is a reality, just like Internet news, Internet shopping, and Internet social networking are. However, is it really a game-changer? Don't you still have to get out in front of people - on TV, on the radio, in print, online, and in person - and have something to say? Haven't we all seen really cool technology, really slick presentation, and a ton of hype, all wrapped around nothing of substance? What was the staying power of Razorfish, pets.com, Loudcloud, Marimba, PointCast, or the million other Web flameouts?
This stuff is just clutter to me. Who cares, really, if Obama is using the Web more effectively than McCain? Does this have one iota of impact on the kind of leader each might be? My questions remain the same as they've been: Obama's experience, his ability to influence people and events on the world stage, who are his advisers and what are their views, etc - all far more important to me than either candidate's ability to "revolutionize" politics via the Internet.