Sunday, June 01, 2008

It's My Party, and I'll Blog If I Want To

Given the momentous events of yesterday's decision to seat half the delegates from Michigan and Florida, which riled supporters of the campaign of Hillary Clinton, it is interesting to note that the official website of the Democratic Party says relatively little about the decision, its deliberative process, and the protests that took place. The party itself posted a relatively bland news release and didn't include any images or video from the often contentious meeting. At this critical time, the site's blog has also been relatively quiet, supposedly because -- as they explain -- "the tech department is going to be doing some tweaking under the hood."

On their site, the party also proudly announced the creation of McCainpedia with articles on topics such as "Uninsured," "Negative Campaigning," and "Earmarks." However, McCainpedia is a highly centralized information source, unlike the kind of distributed knowledge promulgated by the better known and similarly named "Wikipedia." In their defense on the "About" page, the authors of the site point to the fact that they also offer partybuilder, a more open set of tools in which "Democrats are entrusted to build the space and the Party." They also argue that although they "debated whether or not to let the public edit articles," they ultimately opted to make it closed since to "allow people to edit would have meant at least some degree of unreliability and a constant threat of vandalism."

Although it has relatively little other multimedia, with the obvious exception of campaign commercials, the site does promote FlipperTV, "tracking video for the DNC." Chairman Howard Dean explains the rationale for showing their opponent on the campaign trail as follows: "The idea behind FlipperTV is simple: let the American people hear directly from the Republican candidates unscripted and in their own words, and let them decide if they want four more years of Bush's failed policies or a Democrat who will bring change to the White House. This video will come directly from the campaign trail, letting voters see who they truly are, not who their campaigns want them to be."

The actual shaky-cam videos are sometimes hard to watch. I suppose it is rhetorically interesting to see the protests outside, which is sometimes all the coverage that FlipperTV offers of McCain, but the poor sound and video quality may be perceived by some swing voters as an unfair tactic, particularly if there is not "gotcha" Macaca-like moment to go viral.

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