In today’s NYT Circuits section, Lisa Napoli writes about how Howard Dean supporters are using free Internet tools to organize. Like Online Dating, With a Political Spin
Several hundred people crammed the sleekly decorated space, clutching beers and awaiting former Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont, a Democratic presidential candidate. Outside, several hundred more formed a line halfway around the block….
What was remarkable that Wednesday evening was not just the size of the crowd gathered to meet a dark-horse candidate 20 months before the next election. More surprising was that the official campaign staff did not organize the rally.
Dean supporters are using Blogger and MeetUp to communicate and organize. While in 2000, the Bush, Gore and Nader campaigns all used email to communicate with supporters, 2004 could represent a shift towards more grassroots organizations. Instead of the campaigns organizing support from the top down, supports can easily organize themselves from the bottom up. In this next election, supporters may organize themselves as “Smart Mobs.” Hopefully this represents a step forward towards a more engaged and informed electorate.
This is just another example of how online grassroots organizing (or blogpaining1) is starting to emerge as the fundamental building block of political movements. Not just with fun little diversions like Atrios’s “Blitzer Time,” but as a global movement, like the anti-war protests organized by MoveOn. In this Sunday’s NYT Magazine, George Packer discussed MoveOn and more in Smart-Mobbing the War.
While Big Media was the key to politics in the 20th Century, micromedia, smart mobs and grassroots networks will be the key to politics in the 21st century.
(1)Yes, this is a godawful term, but it’s my site, and I reserve the right to introduce new and ridiculous terms