Monday, November 10, 2008 For Sale

After years of muddy-window transparency from the Bush administration, I welcome with open arms the notion that Obama will use as many channels of communication as possible to reach out and dialogue with the nation. I don't suppose the younger and more wired of us, meaning anyone younger than Wolf Blitzer and more adept at explaining the internet than The Alaskan Felon, were really astonished by Obama's online tactics, but I have to admit I hadn't really considered how it might carry over into the communication policies of the new administration.

So, I dove into the Washington Post article, prepared to be hopeful and energized by a new dawn of real transparency, or at least a bold step towards it, or, hell, after the last eight years, a stumbling totter in the right direction. And I was brought up short, a full-on "eh, what now?", by this passage early on (emphasis mine):

"The nucleus of that effort is an e-mail database of more than 10 million supporters. The list is considered so valuable that the Obama camp briefly offered it as collateral during a cash-flow crunch late in the campaign, though it wound up never needing the loan, senior aides said. "

Now, were these lists to be considered really private, they'd have no value, as they could never be used. The very fact that they have value, enough to be used as collateral, implies that they are able to be used for other purposes. Is that what you thought when you signed up?

I understand well that the cause was a noble one, but this feels a little like scooping the pennies from the fountain. The people that joined his movement online had dreams, and I imagine none of them were to be collateral priced out for its marketing value.

Yet this was just an unaddressed aside in the article.

Maybe I'm making too big a deal of this, and it certainly doesn't make me believe less in this man or the potential of his administration. But, I also feel as though he should be called on it, not because it is so damning, but in order for it to become another point of dialogue.

Because the online access to the administration is exciting, but it had better be done well, and carefully, because the nigh-unregulated online mediaspace can be dangerous and privacy issues are of primary importance.

Washington Post: Under Obama, Web Would Be the Way -
Unprecedented Online Outreach Expected


UPDATE: Can I really call it an update if it is a link to an article older than the original one I cited?

Anyway, The New York Times had an article about Obama's use of social networking as a way to create a political brand, and what changes it might signal to the political landscape. This is worth thought and discussion. It is exciting, especially the prospect that this might undermine party-rule, but I have this nagging suspicion there are some devils lurking in the details.

New York Times: How Obama Tapped Into Social Networks’ Power


Anonymous said...

That 'graph raises big-time eyebrows. I know politics is politics, but this sort of stuff makes me want to swing back into my "non-voting" mode. Can one of us keep an eye on that and follow-up, please?

Anonymous said...

ya i got an email from the dems yesterday that raised my eyebrow...asking for more money because:

"The Democratic National Committee poured all of its resources into building our successful 50-state field program. And they played a crucial role in helping Barack win in unlikely states like North Carolina and Indiana. We even picked up an electoral vote in Nebraska.

The DNC took on considerable debt to make this happen."

I'm confused by what amount was actually raised in donations now. (haven't had time to look into this more yet) And annoyed that decisions were made to put the party in debt (in debt to whom?) and now we are being asked to bail them out??