Saturday, November 22, 2003

We have looked at two blogs and have seen what a politician's blog is and what it contains, it is time to see how it has shaped and changed the world of politicking and campaigns.

I will run a series of posts on this topic and will change the focus for each discussion. The topics will range from fundraising, to volunteering, to garnering support.

This post will focus on how blogs get opinions out about the campaign.

Politicians' blogs are very different from the campaigning the public sees on TV or reads in the newspaper. The discourse on the blogs is conversational, loose, and free. It differs greatly from campaign speeches that are stiff, full of big words, and conservative. Blogs allow the same message and news to get out to the public in a way that they can actually understand. Also, with the ability to post comments to each blog post, it is almost like a running conversation between people from all over the US.

Blogs allow supporters to express their true opinions. Since the words are not coming from the candidates themselves and people realize that it is not the candidate's words, the blogs say what they want and do what they want. To some people, this honesty of opinions in "blog postings can lend an aura of authenticity to a campaign, said Rick Klau, 31, a Dean blogger and software executive from Naperville, Ill. 'These are very honest opinions,' he said, and they're not poll-tested." The stiff, politically correct rhetoric of the candidates themselves, can now be loosened up and the public can have a bit more of a hands-on experience with politics, opinions, and campaigning. Also, blogs have "a way of spilling into the offline world. Blogs, they point out, can focus attention on issues the traditional media ignores. And they often provide digestible thoughts in conversational language. Ron Schmidt, a Dean supporter from Minnesota, said blogs give him ammunition for water cooler chat. "I work on people at the bus stop and work," he wrote in an e-mail to the Globe. "I have the information, and that's what the blogs have given me . . . the POWER." Blogs bring information, opinions, and news down to a level for us who do not inhabit the world of politics on a daily basis. Blogs move political discourse off the hill and down to the city, the public.

However this amount of honesty can lead to some child's play. Trolls, web slang for people who go onto other sites and post harassing messages, from the Dean's Camp have invaded the Kerry blog. They got onto the Kerry blog and posted things like "Kerry a real Democrat???!!! That's a laugh." Which resulted in a Kerry blogger saying "until this stops, I am going to raise hell on the Dean boards, and I encourage all Kerry people to join me, (Dean) is a traitor anyway." Basically, a game of name-calling that we all hoped died at 5th grade recess.

So blogs get the information out there in new and different way that make all the political BS a bit easier to swallow and more approachable. However with this has come some immaturity, but mudslinging is nothing new to politics.

Sunday, November 16, 2003

We visited the left, now it's time for the right.

Bush jumped on the bandwagon and now has his own blog.

Few key things about the blog from the practical point of view. First, the post are posted by GeorgeWBush.com, so you can never tell who posts, how they are connected to the Administration, etc. (I expressed my concern about this in my Howard Dean Blog. This site once again leaves me asking, "So who posted this, who is representing the President?") The posts are daily, well organized, and the overall look is patriotic but not flashy. There are also lots of easy to use links to information on Bush, Cheney, and Laura Bush. The blog covers hot issues, posts that clarify issues and express opinions, as well as simple updates on schedules and agenda. The site is very organized with hot topics sections, archives, calendars and latest posts. Also, to help distinguish between posts, each one has a heading of "Opinion," or "Radio Alert," etc so that you know origins almost of the post, whether it is from a speech, or just his opinion. There is also the option to syndicate the site with XML and a link to learn what a blog is.

The actual content of the posts are informative, good clarification, and descriptive. It is actually more objective than I thought it would be. I mean you are expecting to get his side of things with his own bias because it is his site, but none of it is screaming at you to believe what he believes because I think the managers of the site realize that while he is running for president in 2004, he is still president now, in 2003, and he needs be informative, not just persuasive.

It has quotes and links to periodicals, like the WSJ and USA Today, to help substantiate opinion pieces. It also has direct quotes and speeches from the President to clarify looming issues. As well as schedule updates on when Bush will make TV broadcast or live webcasts. The information is also brought closer to home because it has regional topics like New Mexico Wildlife.

Surprisingly enough, it is not like the "VOTE FOR ME, YAY ME!" site of Dean. Their are small graphics that have links where you can donate funds, join the campaign team, etc. The blog is much more focused on issues and information than the Dean blog. I went in expecting one thing and was pleasantly surprised to not be pushed over with "Vote for me!" graphics flashing. Maybe it is because he realizing that blogs are not just for recruitment, or maybe he felt the need to be a bit more diplomatic since he is still the President. Either way it was a pretty good blog that was very informative and well organized.

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