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A reader pointed me towards Lawrence Lessig’s take on the use of blogging in the 2004 presidental campaign. Lessig sees this as the application of “open source” principles to the political space, noting the diminished impact of mass media advertising on the electorate. He writes, “When done right, as the Howard Dean campaign apparently is doing, the blog is a tool for building community. The trick is to turn the audience into the speaker. A well-structured blog inspires both reading and writing. And by getting the audience to type, candidates get the audience committed. Engagement replaces reception, which in turn leads to real space action. The life of the Dean campaign on the Internet is not really life on the Internet. It’s the activity in real space that the Internet inspires.”

Lessig has some intriguing qoutes from Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi about how he has had to unlearn the lessons of previous campaign to think about the candidate’s interface with his public on very different terms, giving up control in order to bring about greater commitment, “you will absolutely suffocate anything that you’re trying to do on the Internet by trying to command and control it.” It is interesting that Trippi was at least briefly part of Progeny Linux Systems.

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