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Some Nice Editorials on Dean and Blogs

by Tim O'Reilly
Feb. 1, 2004

Howard Dean's disappointing performance in the first two primaries has come as something of a shock to people who think that blogging is the answer, whatever the question. Jock Gill just sent me a pointer to a nice op-ed that he wrote on the subject that exactly captures my feelings on the subject. The internet is a great tool, but it's only a tool, only one tool of many that we need for any objective, let alone an objective as complex as electing a political candidate. Expertise trumps enthusiasm, and above all, knowing the right people to connect to rather than just connecting to the folks who are already on your side. (What were they thinking, sending kids in orange hats to Iowa? A sure way to say "We're not like you.")

It's clear, though, that tools like blogging, meetup, and effective online advocacy done by folks like MoveOn, are here to stay, and have become an important part of the political toolbox. The question is, as always, what we can learn from the pioneers. What works. What doesn't. How can we get better at what we do? That's the spirit of next week's Digital Democracy Teach-In, which we're holding in conjunction with ETech in San Diego.

P.S. I also like Chris Lydon's reflections on the Dean campaign. There are probably lots of other great reflections on this subject, but I haven't been able to work my way through all the hand-wringing to find them. But of the ones that have been sent to me, these two stand out as on the money.

Tim O'Reilly is the founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media, Inc., thought by many to be the best computer book publisher in the world. In addition to Foo Camps ("Friends of O'Reilly" Camps, which gave rise to the "un-conference" movement), O'Reilly Media also hosts conferences on technology topics, including the Web 2.0 Summit, the Web 2.0 Expo, the O'Reilly Open Source Convention, the Gov 2.0 Summit, and the Gov 2.0 Expo. Tim's blog, the O'Reilly Radar, "watches the alpha geeks" to determine emerging technology trends, and serves as a platform for advocacy about issues of importance to the technical community. Tim's long-term vision for his company is to change the world by spreading the knowledge of innovators. In addition to O'Reilly Media, Tim is a founder of Safari Books Online, a pioneering subscription service for accessing books online, and O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, an early-stage venture firm.

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