Internet and Politics

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Political Mobilization, the Internet and the 2008 Elections Session Organizers: Berkman's Internet & Democracy Project and Digital Natives Project

During an already amazing election year, this session will address many of the unanswered questions around the impact of the Internet on the Presidential campaigns and the political process. Is the Internet transformative or just a new tool for classic campaign strategies? Does the Internet diminish or amplify the role of traditional media during elections? What are the most important forms of new interactive media during elections? What can campaigns do to address the weaknesses of online mobilization, including leadership development, fostering close personal connections and accountability, and other attributes required for effective political mobilization in the off line world? Which campaigns are most effective at online mobilization so far, and can the least effective win without improved online strategies?


Title: the internet and politics, or the internet and presidential campaigns

Basic Idea: I imagine an internet and politics session during election season would be of great interest and very timely. People can talk about what they are reading/seeing everyday. We could partner with KSG, others. The center for internet and politics at GW or Pew Center might be other good partners.

The session could focus on how the Internet is transforming presidential campaigns--increasing direct citizen involvement (or not), changing fundraising, blogging, outreach, organization, etc. What is new and what is different? Is it transformative or just new tools for old campaign strategies?

We could have someone like Joe Nye moderate, and David Gergen, other KSG faculty on the panel. Maybe a big MSM news person could also moderate--tim russert, someone from PBS/NPR, etc. If we could get a campaign rep from the obama, clinton, mcain, and former romney, guliani, even dean campaigns could add to the real world perpsective and keep it from being too academic. Zephyr Teachout would be a good panelist. I'm sure we could fill a panel just with ksg people in town, but would want broader representation probably.

from GK: Great set of ideas, I would suggest narrowing down the issues because otherwise it's quite possible for people to talk past each other. Fundraising is probably the most well-covered of the ones you mentioned; what I'm most interested in is the capacity to generate real-world action. e.g. enables virtual phonebanking. what else is possible but needs to be tested? what's transferable to non-electoral contexts?

  • From Tom Seivert, KSG Nat'l Security Fellow: You might also contact the Shorenstein Center for the Press, Politics and Public Policy at the Kennedy School. Specifically, Tom Fiedler, the former editor of the Miami Herald. He's well versed in the changing roles of traditional journalistic media and the growing impact of the political blogosphere. Tom also is a veteran presidential campaign reporter. In fact, he's the one that broke the Gary Hart "Monkey Business" story way back when. He's a great guy and would be more than willing to help out, or help you gain access to some of the other media people mentioned above.
  • From Micah Sifry: I'm attending and would be happy to pitch in on this, as long as it isn't scheduled at the same time as the transparency session I am co-leading. I co-founded and edit