I just finished my final draft of Blogwars: The New Political Battleground (Oxford University Press). As I have said, writing a book on blogs is like reporting NASCAR with stone tablets–so much happens so fast. One topic of current interest is the nature of interactivity: what are its benefits and drawbacks for politicians?
Of course, in the bloglands, you can’t pack the rooms with your supporters, shut out hecklers, and enforce message discipline. For example, candidate Barack Obama pioneered the use of MySpace as a campaign tool, but look at what happens when you open up the gates of interactivity to anyone, from kooks to your sworn enemies to supporters who embarrass you by their support. Among the July 2007 commenters on the Obama MySpace site, one “Namaste” from the hip-hop music producers at StreetLabStudio signed on to say, “Fallin’ thru ta show ya some luv and say wassup!! Have an Excellent, Blessed Day!! ‘lid…..never follow.” Fair enough, but does the accompanying video graphic of a nude woman jiggling her buttocks help or hurt the Senator from Illinois in his march to the White House? Then there’s the scary LostInQueens who signed on to assure the candidate, “you can count on my vote.” His graphic is a masked man pointing a gun at the viewer.
And MySpace sells ads: In one ad on Obama’s page, the conservative magazine Human Events offers readers a free report on “the real Barack Obama,” detailing issues from “his radical stance on abortion to his prominence in the corruption scandals that has been virtually ignored by the mainstream media” and asserts that “Barack Obama is not fit to be Senator — not to mention the next President of the United States.”
Do politicians need such interactvity?
–David D. Perlmutter
Originally posted August 2, 2007 at PolicyByBlog