Wired has a story on how “the Internet invented Dean”. Some of the lessons:
– Make the network stupid: “The network should be as simple as possible, with advanced functionality and intelligence moved out to its edges. For the Dean campaign, this means that hundreds of independent groups are organizing with very little direction from headquarters.”
– Let the ants do the work: “Because the entire Dean system is densely linked, the distant work of all the local groups feeds back into the campaign.”
– Leaders are places: “Dean’s network made it easy for his supporters to vote in the MoveOn poll, while offering MoveOn members an opportunity to influence the Democratic race, even if their own state’s primary was irrelevant. Participation, not policy, was key.”
– Links attract links: “Barabsi gives a formal model for what everybody already knows: Popularity breeds more popularity; links are made most quickly to Web sites that have the most links…The most important thing to notice about Barabsi’s model is that the advantage of arriving early and offering adequate or superior fitness increases exponentially over time.”
– Allow the ends to connect: “Local Dean groups are not obsessed with passing their messages to the candidate. They are busy talking among themselves.”
There’s definitely a lot we can learn from the way the Dean campaign has aggregated technology and people – they’ve created a new “political platform”, which is genuinely of the people, for the people, and by the people.