Gee, ya think?
A piece in the D/A notes that politicians are utilizing blogs and other internet technology in a big way.
It's kind of ironic, given the reaction this blog has received in the past year.
Local pols seem to be either utterly baffled, have reacted in a dramatically inappropriate, clueless, and counter-productive way, or have simply ignored it altogether.
In general, it seems clear that they all reacted with various degrees of fear and loathing, largely due to the now apparent fact that they didn't know the first thing about any of it.
When people don't understand something, they tend to be frightened of it I guess.
My mistake was in assuming that more people around here had at least a clue. Blogs didn't just appear, they've been around for years. And the intensive use of internet technology has been around for a relatively long time as well.
I'm not nearly as net-savvy as many, and if I'd been reading blogs for a few years, I figured at decent amount of people around here would have too, in particular if they were interested in politics, as nearly all political junkies are addicted to getting their news and discussion online. (I mean, what's the alternative? Cable shout-fests, network news, talk radio or subscribing to dozens of newspapers? Not a lot to draw on.)
I guess I've been very surprised and disappointed at the amount of backwardness, ignorance, and the flat-footed response with which the blog has been met by political types.
The piece notes what should be already apparent to anyone who knows how to turn on a computer and has an interest in politics. Namely, that blogging and the use of the internet as a communication tool has been a large, pervasive and growing trend for some time and is only growing and expanding faster at a rapid pace. A politician who doesn't at least establish a basic web presence is quickly going to be considered a dinosaur.
When most candidates for junior class president have nice web sites and a state rep or senator doesn't, I mean.....
I spoke to a candidate at one point who told me that he had volunteers equipped with little handheld video devices, much like a Palmpilot I assume, preloaded with a video message from him. They'd walk neighborhoods, and beyond just leaving a door hanger or something, they'd actually play what amounted to a short video commercial to the voter featuring a personal message from the candidate.
I admit that's a bit much, but it shows where things are going. And this was a couple years ago. (pre-IPod even.)
I'm still astounded that most local politicians don't even have their own web sites, let alone blogs, podcasts, streaming video and all that. Pathetically enough, many don't even utilize e-mail that much, let alone the net.
Strategists in both parties say the drive to use new media is simple: It's cheap, easy and more and more people are connected.Maybe some day local politicians will begrudgingly enter the 1990s.
According to a survey after the last presidential election, reliance on the Internet for political news during the 2004 contest grew sixfold when compared with 1996.
At the same time, the Pew Research Center poll showed that 40 percent of Internet users found the Web important in helping them decide for whom to vote.
In the 2003-04 election cycle, Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean used the Internet to raise tens of millions of dollars and stun his primary rivals early in the campaign. He easily surpassed Republican Sen. John McCain, who had relied in part on the Internet for his fundraising in 2000.
In this election year, Republican gubernatorial candidate and pro football Hall of Famer Lynn Swann of Pennsylvania found his contributions increased when he added a personal touch to his Web site. When visitors click on a "donate" button on the site, a video pops up of Swann telling voters why they should elect him.
"Campaigns are won and lost on a lot more than a simple Web site, but a campaign Web site is step one in determining the voters' ability to understand who you are and what you're about," said Leonardo Alcivar, Swann's communications director.
Former Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, a Democrat who is considering a presidential run, recently added a professional blogger to his staff. Warner likes to use video podcasts.
Zack Exley, 36, who directed the Kerry campaign's online activities, said e-mail actually sounds old-fashioned to techies, but remains vital.
He says politicians should personalize e-mail messages to keep people reading. For example, he said 2008 candidates could empower supporters, and reward their efforts, by giving them first word in an e-mail of the candidate's pick for a running mate.