Internet as Political Force

Dan Gillmor writes in the aftermath of the Iowa caucuses and Howard Dean’s third-place showing:

Anyone who doubts that the Internet is changing politics in major ways just isn’t paying close enough attention.

Howard Dean and his campaign staffers have been this election cycle’s innovators, even if the candidate has turned off many voters with his hot-headed rhetoric and style. They have used technology to raise money and to communicate with supporters, giving supporters an unprecedented role in running the campaign from the edges rather than campaign staff controlling it solely from the center. Their work, or least some of it, is a template for everyone else, now and in the future.

Look at Kerry’s Web site . It has borrowed from Dean’s campaign. There’s a campaign Weblog, operated by a veteran of the blogging sphere. There’s the link to, connecting supporters with each other in the physical world. There’s the fundraising link, a phenomenon that goes back in presidential campaigns to Republican contender John McCain in 2000.

Today, every serious presidential candidate has a blog in addition to a Web site. Tomorrow, every serious candidate for any office will be using these online techniques, or at least some of them.

This is how the Web works: letting people emulate each other’s tactics, folding the best new ideas into traditional platforms and messages.

For once, politics leads business in adoption of new technologies.

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.