Politics online conference wrapup

Politics online conference wrapup: (Updated: to fix some typos of blogging on a bumpy flight — nothing substationally new from the original post.)  I
think it was yesterday when I was at George Washington University at a
conference about online politics
, but I’ve only been in Austin 12 hours
and my mind has moved onto the future. But here are some points I wrote on
the plane…think of them as my Power Point presentation of
observations about online politicians (or, at least, the folks who work for or
study them) and, in general, conferences that have sessions related to
“understanding bloggers” where there are very few actually bloggers in
the audience (or, in some instances) on the panel.

These, of course, are merely opinions. My opinions. And, unfortunately, I had to leave before Glenn Reynolds spoke:

  • Whenever you hear the word “content” used by someone on a panel, it means they don’t know what they’re talking about.
  • Just because someone happened to be there when some
    bigger-than-life phenomenon happened (i.e., the Dean campaign) doesn’t
    mean they knew then or know now what  happened. (I’ll give Joe
    Trippi credit, however, he admits this.)

  • Some old traditional political hacks are like old journalism hacks: bloggers scare the hell out of them.
  • Very, very few political experts know what an RSS newsreader is.
  • The Roper people have hyped that “influencer” stuff for as long
    as I can remember…and have found a way to hype it onto the

  • There are a lot of very smart people involved in online politics
    who are willing to pay a lot of money to have someone tell them what
    they could learn in about a month of blogging…and, please, reading

  • The debate over whether bloggers are or are not bloggers is a
    circular, meaningless waste of time. I’ll quote (or paraphrase) Dave
    : We’re either all journalists or none of us are journalists” when
    it comes to who should be be able to speak freely. Beyond that, who
    cares? The consititution does not set up an accreditation process for “journalists” like
    someone in the audience implied yesterday. Frankly, I don’t want to be a
    journalist (on this weblog, at least). This is me talking. I’m not
    reporting. I accept the responsibility not to libel or slander or do other
    unlawful acts or practices that will have you question my integrity or
    ethics. But, please, don’t call me a journalist for what I do here. (I
    do play a journalist in another gig, however.)

  • By the way, from an integrity perception standpoint, many of the
    bloggers I know would rather be called a used car salesman than a

  • I have a theory developing: Some people who appear on panels at
    online politics conferences don’t actually use the Internet but think
    it’s a “great tool” for helping them communicate with and activate
    those in their sphere of influence who do actually use the Internet.
    I’m not naming names, however.

  • My
    admiration for certain of my fellow bloggers who appear on lots of
    panels has grown. I don’t know how they can endure appearing on a
    panel called something like, “How
    to cope with those crazy bloggers” and not jump over the table and slap
    hell out of the next guy who has obviously never read a blog but is an
    expert on how blogs have already reached their zenith.

  • The next time I moderate a panel (I didn’t at this conference) I
    will only call on women questioners. As much as I’m, well,
    not enlightened, I observed that moderators have a difficulty seeing
    women when they raise their hands.

  •  I agree with, once again, Joe Trippi who observed that
    we’re at about the spot TV was in 1955 when it comes not only to online
    politics, but, really this whole participatory, conversational,
    citizens media movement.

  • Everyone who thinks there’s just “a bunch of chaos and noise” out
    there on blogs, please, download a desktop RSS newsreader (or use My
    Yahoo or Bloglines) and figure out how to set up folders and feeds.
    It’s not about chaos. It’s the opposite. Because of blogs, I can learn
    and distill so much more than ever before because I can draft off the
    steady breeze of brilliance from those whose I can, over time, learn to

  • When something hasn’t yet been fully created, the worst thing to do is to start making rules and applying metaphors.
  • People who don’t underestand the podcasting’s secret sauce of RSS
    enclosures call something that is not podcasting, podcasting. They
    apply the term to posting an audio file on a website where someone can
    mannually download it, missing the “-casting” aspect of the metaphor.

  • Certain members of the FEC are nothing more than scare mongers
    who view the blogosphere’s disdane for regulation as a cog in the spoke
    of some greater agenda. Unfortunately, they are scare mongers with
    power. So, despite knowing exactly how all of this is going to turn out
    — i.e., I’m not worried about the feds cracking down on bloggers — I
    will officially cast my support behind any efforts of bloggers who want
    to crackdown on the FEC.
  • Jason Lefkowitz

    Great summary Rex. Your observations are dead on. Hearing people talk about blogs at this conference was a hoot! “This blog thing has only been around for a year and look how important it has become.” Oh yeah, tell Dave Winer that blogging is only 1 year old… how long has Scripting.com been up now?

    And the ignorance of RSS is remarkable too. I spoke at a similar conference in SF last year, and one of my major points was how frustrating it is to have my primary electronic point of contact with my constituency be e-mail — a medium which is broken in huge and obvious ways. I pointed to RSS as an example of one way you could do the same sort of thing better. Pandemonium! Most people didn’t know what RSS was, and those that did were scared of it — because you couldn’t get things like open rate data, etc. that you can get with HTML e-mail. Absolutely nobody was thinking about what would make their members’ lives easier by freeing them from having to worry about getting buried in spam because they gave some group their e-mail address and that group re-sold it to everyone under the sun. Amazing.

    I’m sure that by 2010 or so we’ll start to see panels at the Politics Online Conference that reflect the reality of the world of 2005… (sigh)

  • Tim Russo

    i have an argument in favor of the FEC’s position that you may find interesting at my blog, http://www.democracyguy.com

  • Ruby

    Thanks for the write-up, Rex. Reading about it is even better than sitting through those boring know-it-all panels. 😉