Politicians and the Net


Nader’s brand of crusade-like issue advocacy would seem perfectly suited for the Internet age. But he has a big problem: He doesn’t understand the Web.

“Doesn’t understand” is an understatement. More like “clueless and contemptuous.” I mean, he still refers to the Net as “virtual reality,” not understanding that for millions, their online and offlines lives mesh into one, without there being little separation between them.

Ron Paul doesn’t get the Net, but his hordes of libertarian geek supporters sure do, and they created a viral buzz that enabled Paul to raise tens of millions of dollars.

Much of the hard left doesn’t get the Net either. Oh, they have websites and blogs, but they lock them down and control the content, often not even allowing comments on blogs. Or they use blogs solely to re-post articles from their other sites. This totally misunderstands what blogs are about.

For blogs (and websites) to be successful, they need to be two-way. The comments that readers leave and the incoming and outgoing links are what gives life to a blog. Without that, you might as well post it on your refrigerator door, for all the effect it will have.

A blog needs to leave the doors open, letting lots of stuff fly in and out, and to have a personal point of view as well. That’s why the blogs for most politicians are dull. They have few if any outgoing links, hardly ever allow criticism (or even liveliness) in the comments, and present a bland personality to the reader. Someone told them they need a blog, so they got one, but don’t know why.

More than a few websites and blogs on the hard left have the same problems, except the personality presented is militant rather than bland. But it’s still one-dimensional, with humor, wry comments, links to organizations outside themselves, and feedback from readers often being nonexistent.

Like I say, they don’t get the Net.

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