Jonathan notes that some people believe these kinds of events make the blogosphere more important than the mainstream media, but he doesn’t think that’s the case (and I agree). As he puts it:
“It seems clear that the candidates and their advisers absorbed the wrong lessons from Deanâ€™s moment, or at least they failed to grasp an essential truth of it, which is that these things canâ€™t really be orchestrated.
Deanâ€™s campaign didnâ€™t explode online because he somehow figured out a way to channel online politics; he managed this feat because his campaign, almost by accident, became channeled by people he had never met.”
Bai describes how Ron Paul supporters — who had nothing to do with the official campaign — organized their own online fundraiser for the candidate on Guy Fawkes Day and pulled in more than $4-million and over 20,000 contributors in a single day, which turns out to be the largest one-day haul of any Republican candidate to date. Even Ron Paul’s campaign probably doesn’t have a clue how or why it happened.
The point Matt Bai is trying to make is related to my point about online community: You can’t create one, just as you can’t create a “viral” hit, or in fact an online sensation of any kind. You can create what you think are the right conditions for such a thing to grow, and hope to encourage one that already exists to adopt you, but other than that you have very little control. Anyone who claims otherwise is selling something.
Caroline McCarthy of CNET doesn’t think Facebook or ABC News are going to have much success with this idea because, well… Facebook users see “the site as a platform for social recreation, not information consumption.” In other words, they’re too busy goofing around with Super-Pokes and sharing photos of each other staggering drunk at frat parties. I’m extrapolating, but I think that’s more or less what Caroline means.
Is that true, though? I know that Facebook started out as just for university students, but the user base has broadened considerably, I would argue. There has been a tremendous response to issues such as the Burmese army attacks, not to mention Iraq and other U.S. issues. Admittedly, people still primarily use Facebook for social purposes, but I don’t think that necessarily precludes there being a political aspect to it as well.
On the other hand, maybe this announcement between Facebook and ABC is just a lot of blather and not much will come of it. Even All Facebook’s Nick O’Neill doesn’t seem to think it amounts to much.
Speaking to a standing-room-only crowd of marketers, branders and media executives from around the country, former President Bill Clinton challenged the press to â€œrender complex messages to audiences without turning them into two-dimensional cartoonsâ€ as the next election approaches.
Pot, meet kettle.