Friday, June 20, 2008

Campaign Rhythms and Algorithms

I haven't plugged techPresident for a while, although a lot has changed in the possible line-up for November, since I said that I wanted a digital rights candidate two years ago. Of course, techPresident is really about elections, while Virtualpolitik is also about governance, as well as what Foucault called "governmentality," but I've added them to my blogroll, since they have presented a great run of stories about how the candidates are using Web 2.0 in recent months.

For example, they noted that Barack Obama notified campaign supporters about his controversial decision not to take public financing by directing them in a mass e-mail to the following YouTube clip. The rhetoric of this footage is interesting, particularly for a candidate mostly known for being captured in signature moments set at noisy rallies. In contrast, this online video uses many of the intimate characteristics of the more confessional vlog genre: the second-person address, the unartful cut to a closer-up close-up, and the bad atmospheric sound. Nonetheless, the flag and blue velvet drapes in the background signal the message's official character.

Those at techPresident have also reported on how Open Left is engaged with a project called Searching for John McCain that is designed to move negative results about the Republican nominee farther up Google's ranking of search results with somewhat more sophistication and less juvenile humor than the Google bomb that linked the phrase "Miserable Failure" to the sitting Republican George W. Bush.

They've also been active in promoting the Personal Democracy Forum taking place in New York City, which may be one "PDF" worth opening. This year's theme is "Rebooting the System," and many of the speakers are challenging the conventional suspicion of government that has been a characteristic of many aspects of Internet culture for years. (In Geert Lovink's "Twilight of the Digirati" in Dark Fiber, he also attacks this "cyber-libertarian ideology" that has asserted that "the state is the main enemy of the Internet and that only market forces can create a decentralized communication system.") For example Matthew Burton holds forth in "Why I Help 'The Man'" about the virtues of government service.

PDF is even hosting a McCain-Obama debate on Twitter (via proxies from each campaign). After all, Twitter itself has parodied Obama and McCain as if they were using the service for a while.

Thanks to Cécile Grégoriadès, who is reporting on the conference, for the link.

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