politics on blogs
Eirik and Jon have been writing about Howard Dean, the Democratic presidential candidate who’s blogging. Jon also pointed me to Dan Gillmor’s interesting analysis of Dean’s net campaign. Following links around about I was fascinated to see that Dean’s been a guest blogger for Lawrence Lessig. Now, Lessig, you know, is a forefigure in the fight for a more sensible copyright legislation for digital works, and his blog has a large readership that is expert in this area. They’re a vocal lot too, and Lessig’s posts often get scores and even hundreds of comments. So by posting to Lessig’s blog, Dean gets a different readership.
Dean’s blog posts have not been long, but they have attempted to address the many, complex issues raised in the comments to posts. As Eirik writes, the difference between a post like this from Dean, and a post from Poul Nyrup (former Prime Minister of Denmark) is striking. Nyrup’s blog is musing, thoughtful and often pleasant reading, and there are descriptions of a politicians life, and fairly abstract political visions, but it’s lacking in political action. He has no comments or discussions and doesn’t link. Mind you, Nyrup scores a few points simply by being Danish: an equivalent to his fond memories of last year at the Roskilde Festival (June 29, no permalink) is unlikely to appear on Dean’s much more focussed site. I don’t think Nyrup’s really blogging for success, he’s blogging for pleasure. He’s already been a head of government, of course.
Lessig sees Dean’s guest blogging as more than just another distribution channel for political propaganda, he sees it as democratising: a new and more valuable space for genuine debate between indivuals and their politicians. After the visit, Lessig wrote:
[E]very serious candidate should spend time in just such an open, egalitarian place. Everyone now recognizes that the leading Democratic candidate is the leading candidate in part because of how his message spreads in places like this. They should all find places where they can do the same ó unprotected by handlers, exposed to many with strong and deep knowledge of a subject, and open to fair criticism. Let there be one week on a blog for every five choreographed ìtown hallsî, and weíll begin to see something interesting.
There were problems too, of course. Lessig’s a professor of law at Stanford, and when he hosted Dean, Stanford requested that he move his blog to a personal server because the university did not wish to be seen as endorsing one candidate. Although Lessig has later said that he’s not specifically endorsing Dean, and has invited other candidates to guestblog too, people have tended to assume that Dean’s presence on Lessig’s blog meant that Dean supported Lessig’s copyright agenda. This is not the case (“they have no policy on that yet”), although Dean’s internet team are “big Lessig fans”. From the looks of things, Dean’s found himself a pretty impressive internet team.