“Command and control… [is] a disaster in the peer-to-peer social network world.”

There are some good points made, about the internet and other things, by US political strategist, Joe Trippi, as reported in this Guardian Technology article. So good that the Guardian TechBlog also noted it. Unlike Zoe Williams he’s an enthusiast of the emerging online social networks and, as his experience in promoting Howard Dean in the US showed, he knows whereof he speaks.From Tania Branigan’s article

But Mr Trippi believes the influence of the established media is waning and argues that politicians must allow activists to build their own online communities, not simply use the net to disseminate information.

He argues that, in an age of declining deference and empowered individuals, most voters will trust the opinion of peers who endorse a politician much more than a “top-down” message.

Rather than encouraging politicians to say one thing in public and another in private, this shift makes it pointless for them to try.

Platitudes will simply bore people, but the public will learn to filter out trivial gaffes: voters are unlikely to tolerate evidence of racism, but may learn to accept that senators occasionally drop off in hearings, for example.

But the switch will be particularly hard for incumbents, he suggested, who have to abandon the tactics which have made them successful.

“Parties that have had iron-clad message discipline – in the US, the Republican party and in the UK, Labour – have a tougher time,” he warned.

“Command and control … [is] a disaster in the peer-to-peer social network world.”

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  • Gum

    Trippi is a fascinating guy to talk/ listen to. I met him during the 2004 presidential race and his promotion of the internet as the new and most effective political battlefield was really riviting. His book – the Revolution Will Not Be Televised – is a good read too.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Point of fact — the so called “waning established media” took his candidate out in about a week, although Dean surfed his state of denial for most of the rest of the primary season. Trippi may have an idea, it may even be a good idea, but let’s not make it more than it really is.

  • snakebrain

    I think the point may be that an immature technology was able to land some pretty significant body blows on the established machine, Dread, and the implications that may have for the future.

    I’m considering putting together a NI political news website using entirely user-generated content. A bit like a cross between slugger and youtube, largely unmoderated, and with the prioritisation of material driven by the choices of those using the site, as a bit of a web2.0 experiment. I’d be interested to know what anyone on here thinks of the idea.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    *adopts Pete tone*

    Yes, that was noted earlier yesterday.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    snakebrain: “I think the point may be that an immature technology was able to land some pretty significant body blows on the established machine, Dread, and the implications that may have for the future. ”

    Which is your *opinion* (“I think”) based on a possibility (“the implications that may have for the future”). That is a far cry from Trippi’s position, which takes matters as a given. Likewise, turning the whole game over to the activists is not going to help the process — its bad enough the American primaries are pretty much owned by the special interests of each side. How much worse to given them control over the whole process?

    Additionally, you neither contradict my the notion that all it is is an idea / possibility at this point or the fact that the “waning established media” squashed Dean’s chances like a bootheel on a cockroach.

  • snakebrain

    Trippi speaks of a “waning” established media. He never says its fat lady has sung yet.

    I deeply regret my inability to totally confidently predict the future, but will try to do better in future.

    It is a given in the sense that sites like slugger and other forms of online activity have pretty radically changed the face of politics. I know it’s a trivial example, but look at the worldwide catcalling at GB over his unfortunate loss of his Timex. That would never have happened before these technological advances. Nobody would ever have known it happened.

    And, as Trippi says, it’s much more difficult for politicians to push a party line when they’re open to challenge from a million bloggers, commentators and other parties involved simply by their own interest, who, unlike the Daily Telegraph, you can’t simply invite round your club for a big lunch to shut them up.

    Likewise, turning the process over to activists working at grassroots level does nothing to consolidate the “special interests” at work in the US. They’re still going to be wide open to the fact-checking and challenges that the political community on cyberspace creates.

    So perhaps as the internet waxes and the established media wanes, the boot will be on the other foot. I still can’t say for sure, but it seems smart to assume something’s got to give. Unfortunately my crystal ball’s on the blink today.

    Perhaps you can tell me exactly how this one’s going to pan out.

  • Pete Baker

    Ah, sorry about that Gonzo.

    I did link to your post, but I hadn’t spotted the Trippi link you used – possibly because I was trying to bleach that Blair image out of my mind ;o)

    Still, I think Trippi’s argument deserves a particular focus, not least for the points you made.

    Dread

    Whilst I agree that it would be foolish to over-emphasise the waningness[?] of the established media, you are paraphrasing the words of Tania Branigan.. not directly quoting from Trippi.

    The detail here is more important, in my opinion, than that particular element of the wider narrative – As the Guardian’s TechBlogger indicated

  • Dread Cthulhu

    SB: “I know it’s a trivial example, but look at the worldwide catcalling at GB over his unfortunate loss of his Timex. That would never have happened before these technological advances. Nobody would ever have known it happened. ”

    What’s more, who really cares? But this is the joy of a 24hr newscycle that never sleeps. When you never take a break — when there is always space that needs filling, there will always be a need for filler, regardless of how trivial the filler is.

    SB: “Likewise, turning the process over to activists working at grassroots level does nothing to consolidate the “special interests” at work in the US.”

    Doesn’t it? Take a look at the leftward drift of the Democratic party. Listen to the propaganda — Bush may not be a great president, but the United States is not suffering through “the worst economy ever,” nor is Iraq the worst military situation in all history — JFK and LBJ own that one with Vietnam. However, to listen to the bleating of the activists, you imagine that the Great Depression, the “police action” in SE Asia and the whole of the Carter administration never happened.

    By shifting to the blogosphere, you are shifting to a crowd from famous for generating heat, rather than light. You end up with the fringers, like the Kos-ites and that ilk.

    SB: “So perhaps as the internet waxes and the established media wanes, the boot will be on the other foot. I still can’t say for sure, but it seems smart to assume something’s got to give. Unfortunately my crystal ball’s on the blink today. Perhaps you can tell me exactly how this one’s going to pan out. ”

    My best estimate? Life will go on — the Internet will continue to be a good place to sell goods and get some information. Politicians will raise money there from the activists, perhaps throw them a little red meat now and again. That said, that is where it will likely stay for at least a generation. Taking the Dean example — it took months to build him up using the Internet and, what, a week to break him using mainly cable news. Viral video only goes so far, no matter *HOW* plausible Mrs. Clinton seemed in that “1984” ad.

    PB: “Whilst I agree that it would be foolish to over-emphasise the waningness[?] of the established media, you are paraphrasing the words of Tania Branigan.. not directly quoting from Trippi. ”

    Mea culpa — working fast from the work-station.

    PB: “The detail here is more important, in my opinion, than that particular element of the wider narrative – As the Guardian’s TechBlogger indicated ”

    Is it? Despite its alleged enfeeblement, the “old media” were able, with one single clip of a single rally, able to submarine Dean. For a more contemporary example, Ron Paul is running great guns on the Internet, but when scientifically polling is reviewed, ends up back in the “also-ran” bin.

    The Internet is good for trolling for money and talking to the true believers — but the growing pains and changes that will occur between reality and this fantasy are high hurdles.

    Maybe this is another “Dewey defeats Truman” scenario — I could be wrong — but my wagers will be on the big media for the foreseeable future… besides, if you believe in technological convergence, it is all going to run together.

  • snakebrain

    Dread

    “What’s more, who really cares?”

    Nobody does, about George’s Timex, but the next time George Galloway gets roughed up by a bunch of thugs, if he has the presence of mind to whip out his mobile and take a little footage and post it on youtube for all to see, we’ll be spared hours of tedious “heat” about the fine distinctions between members, supporters and followers. I think you’re a bit dismissive of the potential for communication inherent in this new technology, particularly as it moves from being text-based to audio-visual in its focus.

    How old are you Dread?

    There’s a whole generation of kids growing up all over the world who don’t pay much attention to the “cable media” but who are glued to their laptops and do a significant proportion of their information-gathering and opinion-forming online. They’re much less likely to accept the situation where information is bottlenecked through a narrow range of outlets. They’re between 12 and 18 years old right now, and they’re the next generation of voters.

    So in that sense you may be right that it’s the next generation who will make the major changes, but the first batch of them are rapidly approaching their eighteenth birthdays, they’ll be voters soon and a vote is a vote is a vote, no matter whose hands it is in.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    SB: “but the next time George Galloway gets roughed up by a bunch of thugs, if he has the presence of mind to whip out his mobile and take a little footage and post it on youtube for all to see, we’ll be spared hours of tedious “heat” about the fine distinctions between members, supporters and followers. ”

    If GG has the opportunity to “whip out his moble and take a little footage,” whoever is roughing him up isn’t doing all that good a job of it…

    SB: “I think you’re a bit dismissive of the potential for communication inherent in this new technology, particularly as it moves from being text-based to audio-visual in its focus.”

    There is a world of difference between being “dismissive” and stating its not there yet and likely won’t be for another generation and then only maybe.

    SB: “There’s a whole generation of kids growing up all over the world who don’t pay much attention to the “cable media” but who are glued to their laptops and do a significant proportion of their information-gathering and opinion-forming online. ”

    Mayhap, but, historically, not many of them vote. In fact, as a broad rule, the younger the voter, the less likely they are to actually go out and vote. Similarly, the reason politicians pander to the more mature is that they vote. Your local mileage may vary, of course, but I doubt it.

    Look at it this way — if it were really here, then Dean would not have gone down in flames when he did and how he did, would he?

    SB: “They’re much less likely to accept the situation where information is bottlenecked through a narrow range of outlets. They’re between 12 and 18 years old right now, and they’re the next generation of voters.”

    And, in all likelihood, a bare majority will take their civic responsibility serious enough to vote. Likewise, when they arrive, they might even have figured out that 90% of the “information” one gets on the web is commentary, on the best of days.

    SB: “So in that sense you may be right that it’s the next generation who will make the major changes, but the first batch of them are rapidly approaching their eighteenth birthdays, they’ll be voters soon and a vote is a vote is a vote, no matter whose hands it is in.”

    Its not a vote until they actually register and actually get out into the sunlight and cast it, SB. Your experience may vary, I don’t see a lot of young folks waiting to cast their ballots when I go to the polls. Lots of old folks, fair number of working age folks, but not that many “this is my first ballot” folks or many of the university set.

    As for my age — I’m old enough to have seen and heard all the different ways computers were supposed to change my life and haven’t. I remember Beta v. VHS and how these devices were going to change entertainment.