Perlmutter Interviewed about “Online Religion Quizzes”

I was interviewed for an article in the Lawrence Journal World on “Online religion quizzes.”

Originally posted August 18, 2008 at PolicyByBlog

New Media and Politics

The Obama for America campaign tried something new to achieve an old goal:  sign up and you would get a text message on Saturday morning (apparently very early Saturday morning) announcing his choice for VP.  It’s a novel idea, and a clever one.  Yes, getting a text message from Barack Obama–or at least from his campaign–is exciting.  A recipient can feel engaged, however superficially.  But the Obama campaign got something in return:  millions of contacts.  Contacts donate time, money, and word-of-mouth support.  It’s worth discussing if this is a trick that will work next time.

Meanwhile, Joe Biden sent an email with an embedded video to those contacts over the weekend (make sure you have the proper plug-ins).  CNN and iReport have teamed up with Digg to get viewers’ questions answered by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).  All of these tactics are innovative and reflective of the new ways people communicate.  But are we missing the bigger slice of the interested public–namely, those of us who are politically engaged, but perhaps not technologically engaged?


Ah, a real-time update:  Austin Esposito, the son of Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) is speaking at the Democratic National Convention (which I am streaming, despite my consistent inability to have the proper plug-ins), and he’s just exhorted the viewers to stay engaged by–oh, take a guess–texting the message “CHANGE” to 62262.  [Posted by Amanda Clemens]

Originally posted August 25, 2008 at PolicyByBlog

Citizen Journalism Workshop: BlogWorld & New Media Expo 2008

If you are a blogger, hope to see you in Vegas! I am helping organize the workshop below.

Citizen Journalism Workshop

An Exclusive Event at BlogWorld & New Media Expo 2008

Date : Sept. 19, 2008 – 10:00AM – 4:45PM
Location : Las Vegas Convention Ctr.


As blogs take their place as legitimate and respected sources for news, information and analysis, BLOGWORLD & NEW MEDIA EXPO 2008 introduces a new Citizen Journalism Workshop.
There are about 112 millions weblogs worldwide, and while many are blogging for casual reasons or for just a short time, others, especially news and information bloggers, are serious about their blogs’ success in the greater marketplace of ideas.
How can someone “break in” as a news, politics or current events blogger and build a readership, get attention from major bloggers and mass media, and more important perhaps, affect or influence the traditional press agenda, politics, and public opinion?
Traditional news media outlets and bloggers have not always had the best relationship. And yet traditional media has tried to learn from the blogs. In 2008 most mainstream media outlets have blogs, or have their journalists blogging independently.
Now it’s time for the bloggers and other new media journalists to mine the history, tradition and most importantly, the knowledge base of traditional journalists.
In 2008 BLOGWORLD & NEW MEDIA EXPO 2008 is introducing a journalism training certificate workshop for bloggers seeking to deepen and broaden their skills. This workshop focuses on tools and skills news and information bloggers can use to improve the quality, and impact of their blogs.
Bloggers will learn techniques of traditional journalists, including styles of opinion writing, investigative reporting techniques and fact-sourcing, avoiding legal pitfalls, and tips on what makes a post most likely to get one quoted or cited by larger blogs and even the mainstream media.
The instructors for the sessions are accomplished news & information practitioners and educators who have established skills in practical and applied areas of professional journalism training. Participants will receive a Citizen Journalism Certificate and Web icon that will allow them to display their dedication to improving their journalistic skills, and providing them with a distinct brand differentiation from the millions of other news and information bloggers. [Read more…]

David Perlmutter Interviewed by Care2

I was interviewed by Care2, a company that provides online outreach for nonprofits.

David Perlmutter Talks Blogs, Interactors, and Jon Stewart

David Perlmutter, author of the new book Blog Wars, is a professor at the University of Kansas School of Journalism & Mass Communications. Perlmutter, who was a recent guest on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, sat down in Washington in early August for an interview with Care2’s Clint O’Brien to talk about how blogging is reshaping media and changing the way citizens think about politics and social causes.

Clint O’Brien: What inspired you to write this book?
David Perlmutter: Blog Wars began as an idea as early as the mid-90s. In 1996 a friend and I did a study of presidential campaign websites. Basically, what we found was that they were pretty much static bulletin boards: speeches, statements, pictures just posted up there. No real interactivity. At the same time, I had been writing a lot on new communication technologies such as satellites, digital media, cell phones, and so on.

In 2003, I started paying attention to the nascent campaign for president of an obscure ex-governor of Vermont named Howard Dean. His name recognition nationwide was in the single digits; he was not very prominent or powerful within the Democratic party; and except for some gay and lesbian groups, he had no real base or constituency. His war chest was pitiful. Yet the Internet visionaries around him, like Joe Trippi and Jerome Armstrong, tried something really new: to get supporters of his views and ideas to self-mobilize, to create support groups, fundraising, canvassing on their own without top-down central direction. Blogging was their main forum for such activities.

For someone [me] who grew up in an era when sources of political information were few and narrow (the newspaper, TV news) and when venues for ordinary people to speak up about politics were also few (local town halls, letters to the editor), the Dean campaign was a truly exciting revolution. Like all new ideas and technologies, it was not perfect, but it did give birth to the political world we have now.

What was the most surprising thing you learned from writing this book?
2008 is the year in which all the new technologies, techniques, concepts, innovations of so-called new media are being tried. I am surprised at how open to innovation so many campaigns and consultants are. Think how far we’ve come so fast. New media of course isn’t; freshmen at my university have never known a world without the Internet, e-mail or cell phones. That’s one of the main reasons, by the way, that the changes are occurring so quickly.

While I was in Washington recently, I visited a former student of mine who creates Web videos for John McCain. His wife took me to headquarters and we arrived there after 7 p.m. As far as I could tell, everyone there was under 25, and all of them were probably planning to work until 4 a.m. Boomers manage campaigns, but Millennials do all the day-to-day work, and new tech is as natural to them as the wheel and fire to their elders.
Have you gotten any notable reactions from bloggers who either loved what you wrote in the book or disagreed with you?
It helps that I tried very hard to get my facts right. In any book, the author will make mistakes, and I have at least a dozen corrections to make for the next edition. Also, I tried to be nonpartisan, respecting the work and achievements of bloggers on the left and the right, and most reviewers recognized that. On the other hand, the two most common criticisms of the book are that I didn’t explore as thoroughly as I should have the reasons for a left-right split online and, as I should have expected, I got some sniping, because I failed to mention this or that blog.

Which blogs do YOU read regularly, and why? Are you a carnivore, reading opinions that just make you more confident your opinions are correct? Or are you an omnivore, reading opinions of people who disagree with you?

I am inconsistent about my blog reading. I try to skim the major political community/multiblogs across the spectrum (Kos, MyDD, Redstate, Townhall) but I also like to hop around, find new blogs. When an issue hits the news I try to go specialty blogs (Saudi Arabia, Supreme Court, etc).
I tell my students that they should have an open mind, and I use a food analogy to explain what I mean. In nature, overspecialization in diet, while it helps in the short run, is a sure route to extinction. If you eat only eucalyptus leaves or bamboo shoots, you are in trouble if the climate changes or people come along and cut down your forests.

In a book I wrote about the history of war images, I made the case that human beings have been so successful because we have not only adapted to almost every possible climate on the planet but also are capable of eating almost everything as well, from whale blubber to termites to stinky tofu to even a McDonald’s hamburger. But no one should be a complete omnivore, stuffing anything that comes along or flies into the mouth.

So, it’s a huge mistake for a person with conservative opinions to read only rightwing blogs, for example. You should force yourself to read the opinions of people with whom you disagree but–and this is why I advocate being a multivore, not an omnivore–you should have well developed scales and standards of credibility, authority, accuracy and fairness about what you read. So if you are, say, a leftwing blogger, read the rightwing blogs that seem to try to get their facts right and express opinions drawn from those facts.

What is the future of blogging, anyway? Are they all going to be small cottage industry players, or will they get to be big business? Is Huffington Post big business, financially speaking? How about Daily Kos? Others?
I think all futures of blogging will come to pass. First, blogging is just part of a wave of social/interactive media. A lot of people with MySpace sites, for example, don’t think of them as blogs. YouTube looks like a video blog to me, complete with posts and comments, but others don’t see it that way. I believe that there will be massive community blogs with thousands of participants creating material and millions of participating responders.

In fact, I’m trying to coin a new term to describe the situation where online everybody is both a sender and receiver of information (when you do a Google search, you are adding data to Google). The term is INTERACTOR. I see a future where there will be small independent interactors, corporate interactors, government interactors, advocacy group interactors, and many other kinds.

Should we worry that, considering how most blogs don’t report actual news (they just opine on the news), and how many mainstream news companies are laying off reporters and cutting way back on their coverage — that soon there won’t be enough actual news being gathered to fuel the Blog Wars?
This is a large, complicated issue. But in brief, one of the great problems of journalism today is that it is abandoning journalism. It’s a trend in journalism schools that a vast majority of our students don’t want to be reporters–they want to be opinion-offerers, shapers and makers.

That said, there are a lot of blogs that are entering the niches of local reporting, beat reporting, factual and investigative reporting, that are being abandoned by traditional media as being too expensive. Yes, a lot of blogs offer their opinion on the Iraq war, but there are also a lot of blogs finding and reporting original information.

I’m particularly interested in the phenomenon I call the “nonmedia-fit expert.” There are people who are indeed experts–police detectives, obstetricians, retired State Department officers, accomplished scholars–who are never called by the New York Times or CNN and probably wouldn’t be entertaining on television or provide snappy 10-words quips. But they are smart, they know their stuff, and they are blogging.

Since you were a guest in May on The Daily Show, please tell us, so what is Jon Stewart really like? And did you bump into Stephen Colbert backstage?

Mr. Stewart was a gracious gentleman who put this nervous professor at ease. Back in 2005, the Daily Show made fun of “citizen journalism.” Now they see its value–or rather citizen journalists have earned respect. Getting a bottle of Grey Goose vodka in the swag bag also helped. I never saw Colbert.

What is your next book going to be about?

My next book is definitely not Oprah-accessible. It’s about promotion and tenure in academia. Actually, the adventures of professors trying to advance up our ladder are pretty exciting, but perhaps not to anyone outside of the business.

Other than that infamous high school yearbook page, what is something else about you that most of your students and fellow professors at the University of Kansas would never suspect?

The only time I ever visited a fortune teller–on a lark–she told me that in one of my past lives I was an adviser on the civilian staff of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. It just goes to show you the absurdity of fortune telling, because I was actually on the military staff of the Roman dictator Sulla.

Originally posted August 31, 2008 at PolicyByBlog

Digg Being Dugg — By Some

As I mentioned here a few weeks ago, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) answered questions on a Digg Dialogg, a joint project between Digg and CNN’s iReport.  Digg users gave the thumbs-up-or down to submitted questions, just like a regular Digg article submission, meaning that the most “dugg” questions were asked.   Of course, as MediaShift’s Simon Owens points out, the more Digg users engage in politics, the more apparent it becomes that conservative articles and issues are not being, well, dugg.  Why?  It’s possible that the most vocal Digg users liberal tendency was mirrored in the two conventions:  a younger crowd, more tech-savvy, lit up the Democratic convention with text messages and interactive maps.  The Republican convention was more technologically low-key, relying instead on a loyal base.  It isn’t that Republicans, by and large, don’t buy into new media, but perhaps they don’t need to.  So why would they dig Digg in the same way tech-savvy liberals do? This doesn’t make Digg biased.  It’s a platform.  Digg’s users, on the other hand, have no responsibility to be fair or balanced in the articles they choose to promote.  So the question becomes, if conservatives are worried that social networking sites aren’t promoting their messages, do they either jump on that bandwagon, or do they stick to older, but tried-and-true tactics? [Read more…]

Paleolithic Blogs

Dave (askdavetaylor) Taylor gave the Keynote address of the Executive & Entrepreneur track at the Blogworld & New Media Expo 2008 in Las Vegas. (I am here as track director for the Citizen Journalism Workshop). Mr. Taylor made the comment that from the very beginning media–such as early cave paintings–has been biased in that it reflected what the creators wanted to show and not what they did not want to show.

Interestingly I discussed this point in my book Visions of War (St. Martin’s, 1999) which looked at the history of pictures of war. I noted that cave paintings, like those at Lascaux, France were the first physical “medium” of communications outside of the human body. They date back to the appearance of us–anatomically modern humans–and flourished during the Upper Paleolithic (Old Stone Age) era about 35,000 to 12,000 years. Interestingly, when researchers have counted the scenes, flora, and fauna represented in the images on caves you see a huge “bias.” There are very few images of “gathering” or small animals or fish.

On the other hand, overrepresented are big-game animals that weigh more than 100 pounds: bison, Mammoths, deer. They are attractive animals–from carnivore’s perceptive. Many are hugely bloated. These animals do not match the surveys researchers have done of the actual faunal life in the area of the caves. “La Grotte de Cent Mammouths” is one example: there are some 158 or more pictures of Mammoths but only a few Mammoth teeth testify the big animals were very scarce in the neighborhood. [Read more…]

A Slow (or Bright) Blog Manifesto

It ought also to be said that he was immensely painstaking. [When he made] Broad and powerful statements…they were no mere assertions, but the product of countless hours of research into the minutiae of the subject. Even by the usual scrupulous standards of comparative philology, Tolkien was extraordinary in this respect. His concern for accuracy cannot be overemphasized, and it was doubly valuable because it was coupled with a flair for detecting patterns and relations. ‘Detecting’ is a good word, for it is not too great a flight of fancy to picture him as a linguistic Sherlock Holmes, presenting himself with an apparently disconnected series of facts and deducing from them the truth about some major matter. He also demonstrated his ability to ‘detect’ on a simpler level, for when discussing a word or phrase with a pupil he would cite a wide range of comparable forms and expressions in other languages.*

I have been thinking lately about these words written by a biographer of J.R.R. Tolkien, the master-builder of the Lord of the Rings universe and great scholar of language. For the past several months, I have been traveling, giving speeches about blogging and other online social-interactive media (OSIM) and Campaign 2008. Either in person or in tele-video or Webchat connections, I have spoken to groups in Germany, the Netherlands, the Philippines, and Afghanistan. In the United States, my audiences have varied widely, from high school teachers to the New England Journal of Medicine.


All ask the question: Where can we go to get trustworthy information?

In some ways, the great communications conceptual issue of the 20th century was that of access: Up through the early 1990s, to speak to large audiences, to have any real voice in public life, you either made do with an audience of your peers in a Norman Rockwell-like town hall meeting or you had to be a discourse elite. These latter were journalists, politicians, government staffers, celebrities and influential rich folk who made up the Golden Rolodex of who appeared and spoke on the narrow range of news, information, and political outlets then available. Now, hundreds of millions of people have potential access to a global audience through OSIM from blogs to MySpace, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Flickr and many, many other venues. Not only can we create content—that is, be both a sender and receiver of information (what I call an “interactor”)—but also we can affect the popularity of other content through interfaces ranging from blogrolls to our google search histories to thepreference engines of DIGG and others. [Read more…]

Mars Lander: Death Blog

Computerworld reports the last post of NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander: “So long, Earth. I’ll be here to greet the next explorers to arrive, be they robot or human.”

You wonder what 2001’s HAL would have put in his Twitter tweets and blog posts. “I’ve just picked up a fault in the AE-35 unit”?

Originally posted November 11, 2008 at PolicyByBlog

Perlmutter Dept. of State Talks: Manila & Kabul

Some other blogging and elections talks:

–David D. Perlmutter. International webtalk on “The American Elections and Online Social-Interactive Media” sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, November 3, 2008.

Read: The transcript of the webchat.

–David D. Perlmutter. Keynote Speaker. “The American elections.” Tele-Video Conference sponsored by by the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Embassy in Manila, Philippines, October 21, 2008.

Originally posted November 18, 2008 at PolicyByBlog

Obama: Advised by cabinet members…and millions online

A few days before the Nov. 4 election, PRWeek asked communications professionals who would win the race for the White House: Those polled predicted an Obama victory, saying the campaign’s social media tactics and remarkable fundraising efforts would contribute to an electoral edge.

Barack Obama won the presidency in a 53-46 victory over John McCain, with many – both the mainstream media and political bloggers – attributing the win to the factors predicted by those solicited in the PRWeek poll.

Pollster Jeff Booms says the Obama win indicates a broad move to interactive communications as opposed to conventional, Independent/center-appeal strategy – a tactic unsuccessfully employed by the McCain campaign.

The online strategy continues post-election win: Obama has a Web site,, for his transition to the White House. On, you can follow Obama headlines, blog in the virtual newsroom, learn about his cabinet and the inauguration, and get in-depth details about the Obama-Biden agenda on a variety of topics – e.g., the economyIraq and taxes.

On each of these Web pages, a blue box displays in the center of the page, headlined: “Of the People, By the People.” Visitors to the transition Web site are invited to submit ideas to be “part of the change you’re looking for.” [Read more…]