Friday, September 05, 2008

Sarah Palin, the User-Generated Candidate

Adam Hanft sniffs loudly in the direction of the unwashed know-nothings who worked to put their candidate on the ticket.
Sara Palin

The promise of sagacity hiding in the humble corners of the continent, along with a latent and corresponding anti-intellectualism, are American memes that arch back to Andrew Jackson, Mark Twain, and to those Jimmy Stewart movies on TCM.

What is new, though, are two ways in which the Internet has amped up this belief structure.

First, the web removes all the friction from disseminating your bone-headed opinions. And it creates instant gratification. We write, we post, we see our wisdom on the Internet immediately - and so does all the world. It's Kant 2.0. Cogito ergo sum becomes cogito ergo send.

Yes, sir; we all know the trouble; something that makes it possible for any idiot to do something ensures that they will.

And certainly the US has never had any noticeable lack of idiocy. Nonetheless, the results of active and efficient idiocy is still idiocy. Due to the nature of the medium - it's now much more conspicuous idiocy than ever before.

The fact that it's easier to document how stupid it is makes seem far more problematic. But 2.0, if it permits any idiot to suddenly find themselves in the Veep Slot thanks to the efforts of those even more idiotic, it certainly also permits rapid response by those who are smart enough to use 2.0 apps with truly devastating effect. (Or at least, take our modest best shots in volley.)

And of such persons, in which I humbly hope to be included, Barack Obama is certainly in the front ranks. For every "user generated candidate" there is a user-generated, web 2.0 response. One is right below in a google ad, quoted lest it change:

Contribute now to change we need. Barack Obama and Joseph Biden 2008; along with a link to a cafepress store button.

Obama Shop 2.25" Button (100 pack)
Obama Shop 2.25" Button (100 pack)

It's direct interaction with voters, with a campaign expense of exactly zero, and a time expense of a couple hours. Bizarrely, I've talked with lots of pols who cannot see the point to letting volunteers loose on this, but it goes directly into campaign coffers, when it's currently going into the pockets of those who don't contribute, but wish to take advantage of a genuine phenomonon.

I don't know what the reporting requirements are, but if this is done directly by the campaign, I doubt it's counted as a "donation." Could that mean that Obama has more cash on hand than anyone expects? I dunno. I don't think anyone ever once considered the need to address the possibility of a candidate for office making a profit. With Obama, it could turn out to be true.

And frankly, it was in part due to the professional polish made possible by sites such as Cafepress and Zazzle, along with social networking sites that made the whole Ron Paul thing happen. I doubt anyone was more baffled than Paul himself - but made the shrewd choice to not try and "control the message" and therefore alienate the self-appointed messengers. Here's the shop link:

By the way, folks, you need Banners and yard signs!!! The two most obvious political products aren't there!

Here's what I did "for" John McCain - it's not that difficult. to create an arresting design. Indeed, if someone were to wave my banner on TV - they would probably be arrested! :>

Cafepress has a really interesting thing, a page tracking sales of political items over time against designs created per candidate - and that means that every product sold and every product created has an incremental, but meaningful effect. BOTH sales and created products amount to putting money and effort into a candidate - and that carries more weight with me than people who haven't figured out how to not avoid political pollsters.

I prefer Zazzle and my best Obama stuff is there; Zazzle is truly 2.0. On Cafepress I can try to sell you something I want you to agree with, on Zazzle, I can sell you a way to say what you want, within a certain range.

About Sarah Palin
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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