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Wednesday, July 14, 2004

AlwaysOn: Joe Trippi And Dan Gillmor

Tony Perkins is questioning Joe and Dan, topic (same as Joe's book): The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. Trippi says we're no longer in the Information Age, it's now the Empowerment Age. The Net is distributing information, but the key is the democratic nature of that distribution. It's distributing power to the bottom. That's why there's an open source revolution going on right now, and the Dean campaign was the first open source political campaign in history. Just as the bottom wreaks havoc on a top-down recording industry, the Dean campaign did this to top-down politics. There's the ability to radically change the way funding and involvement (MeetUp) takes place. You're seeing this in the media, politics, and now with corporations.

Tony Perkins introduces Dan Gillmor, mentions his book We The Media. About both the speakers and their books, asks, "Doesn't it feel good to be a republican for a couple of hours here?" Trippi: "No!" Dan says one thing you learn if you cover technology in Silicon Valley is that other people know way more than you do, and it's to your and your readers' benefit to capture and disseminate that knowledge. Journalism is really moving from this lecture mode of the last few decades to something closer to a conversation; a seminar or something like it. There are three constituencies: the journalists, who must figure this out, the big newsmakers who thought they could control information (though they're beginning to figure out how to use the tools to communicate with their own set of constituents), and finally, this mass of folks Dan's been calling the former audience. One set of folks are the former consumers of news, who no longer rely on a single source of information. The best part is they now can be part of the process. Then, some of them are becoming professionals themselves. There's this incredible linking machine, some have called it the autonomous linking machine. We're just figuring all this out.

Perkins asks Trippi: who's the big guy, who's the little guy? Example: Harry Truman gets on a train, thousands of people wait for him for hours, and he gives a talk. 19 million people heard him. Eisenhower spoke to a camera, to an audience of the same size, but it was an isolated incident, the audience wasn't communicating with itself. Today, we have both the Truman and the Ike models happening at once, and the two together are better than either alone. The Dean campaign got incredible "hey, you screwed this up" feedback from all over the world in the span of about 8 minutes, concerning campaign signs they were distributing.

Missed a bit here...Dan's now talking about the fear he has about consolidation of big media. The bigger threat to today's media is greed that causes media institutions to cut staff if profits aren't sufficient. Everyone, including big media, benefits from the profusion and diversification of sources of information. Joe thinks television is dead. It took TV until 1963 to be anything more than a novelty. The Dean campaign was the equivalent of the 1952 Checkers Speech. We're just at the beginning, may take decades for this to pan out.

Trippi: The Dean campaign got to 49% of the vote in Iowa, 47% in New Hampshire. What this was was, we were a little league baseball team. We were supposed to let the pros teach us about politics. Instead, we wandered out on the field and creamed the Boston Red Sox for 8 innings. They came back in the 9th.

Gillmor: While I got feedback, the contributors didn't write the book. JD Lasica is going even further. He's using a wiki to collaborate on his forthcoming book. Dan's excited to see what happens once his book is released under its Creative Commons license, he wonders whether the "remixes" will top what he was able to accomplish.

Gillmor: People want something broader and deeper than what's on TV. One thing TV commercials can do is bring people down, destroying through innuendo and lies is a lot easier than getting out the truth.

Trippi: People do want something better. The Dean campaign all came from a Gameboy bulletin board, and all the people on the board who "knew" David Haynes (sp?), but had never met him. When he passed away, the community galvanized to help the family like nothing Trippi had ever seen. He filed that away, knowing that if he ever did anything with politics, he'd do it that way.

Perkins: What about quality, how do people get it? Gillmor: the quality part of the Dean campaign was the weblog, written in a human voice, by identified staffers who became sort of political rock stars. The comment traffic was amazing, and self policing. Example: campaign supporters quelled trolls by promising yet more money to the campaign for every trollish post. Eventually they were discouraged.

Perkins: Where will we be in the '08 election? Trippi: In 2000, McCain was the pinnacle of Internet campainging. There were no blogs, there was no MeetUp. I'm convinced that in 2008 we'll laugh at the tools we used in the '04 campaign. All Kerry has to do is go out tomorrow morning and say, "There's no way I can catch George Bush. But you can." If he really did that, we would all be blown away by the response, Trippi predicts. In the next campaign, someone's going to do it, and we're going to see it change the tide.

Discussion about advertising. Perkins thinks we're going to have new tools and deeper relationships with audience. Gillmor: one thing that worries me is that advertising is getting more sly in the way it appears. If TiVo ruins the 60 second commercial, and product placement leaks into the shows, he's not comfortable for what that might mean to the news business. Perkins: Journalist have to admit finally they have a bias, and what it is. Trippi: "By the way [brandishing can], do you know how refreshing Diet Pepsi is?" [See Halley]

Audience question: [essentially—] can you do this for a rubber tire company? Trippi: Yes you can. Gets back to the difference between distributing information and empowering people. Wherever you are, if you take this attitude, you're going to do much better than adopting the methods of the past. Gillmor: There are significant constituencies of the rubber tire co. that care a lot about it. If the companies use these tools to actually deal with these various groups and constituencies, he's convinced they have a much better shot at not only building business, but at dealing with crises with some grace.

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