Journal: Mass Media Dying, and Mass Politicians Also

09 Justice, 11 Society, Civil Society, Collective Intelligence, Cultural Intelligence

Seth Godin Home

How media changes politics

If you want to get elected in the US, you need media.

When TV was king, the secret to media was money. If you have money, you can reach the masses. The best way to get money is to make powerful interests happy, so they'll give you money you can use to reach the masses and get re-elected.

Now, though…When attention is scarce and there are many choices, media costs something other than money. It costs interesting. If you are angry or remarkable or an outlier, you're interesting, and your idea can spread. People who are dull and merely aligned with powerful interests have a harder time earning attention, because money isn't sufficient.

Thus, as media moves from TV-driven to attention-driven, we're going to see more outliers, more renegades and more angry people driving agendas and getting elected. I figure this will continue until other voices earn enough permission from the electorate to coordinate getting out the vote, communicating through private channels like email and creating tribes of people to spread the word. (And they need to learn not to waste this permission hassling their supporters for money).

Mass media is dying, and it appears that mass politicians are endangered as well.

Phi Beta Iota: For the first time, Seth Godin has caused us to realize that the Koch Brothers funding the Tea Party might be a good thing….it is lighting the path that eventually could be lit by hundreds of millions whose 1-2 dollar contributions will outweight the “loose change” that the super rich are willing to spend on political chicanery.  Joe Trippi was there first, but this is a new spin that we find salutory.

Election 2008 Chapter: Call to Arms, Fund We Not Them

Articles & Chapters
Book PDF
Book PDF

This chapter provides a straight-forward means for restoring self-governance by using modern information and communication technologies to reconnect We the People with both real-world real-time intelligence, and with our tax dollars that are looted the minute we lose sight of them.

Working with Joe Trippi and Jock Gill, among others, we have clearly established that $1 trillion a year is achievable in very small donations from many individuals across the one billion rich.  We do not need governments as intermediaries for funding the big-ticket items–Collective Intelligence has now matured to the point that governments are stupid and the people are not.  As Norman Cousins has noted, only the people can perceive the great truths.  Click on the cover for the entire book, below for this chapter only.

Fund We Not Them
Fund We Not Them

Who’s Who in Public Intelligence: Joe Trippi

Alpha Q-U, Public Intelligence
Joe Trippi
Joe Trippi

Joe Trippi helped rock democracy when he, Joe Costello, and Zephyr Teachout created “The Big Bat” for Howard Dean.  He is one of the 24 co-founders of the Earth Intelligence Network, and specifically responsible for visualizing how individual citizens can eliminate corporate and other special interest money from all political and advocacy campaigns.  His book, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, is one of the standards in the field and preceeded the many other books about bottom-up public power.

Amazon Page
Amazon Page

Above is the new updated edition.

Click on the cover below to pre-order the new book by Robert Steele that integrates work by the 24 co-founders of Earth Intelligence Network, a 501c3 Public Charity.

The Book
The Book

Review: The Revolution Will Not Be Televised–Democracy, the Internet, and the Overthrow of Everything

4 Star, Civil Society, Communications, Consciousness & Social IQ, Culture, Research, Democracy, Information Operations, Information Society, Information Technology, Intelligence (Collective & Quantum), Intelligence (Wealth of Networks), Media

Amazon Page
Amazon Page

4.0 out of 5 stars Great personal story, important national message,

October 21, 2004
Joe Trippi
Edit of 20 Dec 07 to add links.

Joe Trippi has produced a very fine personal story that clearly presents Trippi, Dean, and the Internet as the people's tool, in the context of “early days.” His big point is in the title: this is about the overthrow of “everything.”

I took off one star for two reasons: his very limited “tie in” to the broad literature on the relationship between the Internet and a *potentially but not necessarily* revitalized democracy; and his relative lack of attention to the enormous obstacles to electronic democracy getting traction, including the corruption of the entire system from schoolhouse to boardroom to White House.

There is a broad data point that Trippi missed that adds great power to his personal appreciation of the future: the inexpensive DoKoMo cell phone and network approach from Japan, when combined with Sony's new playstation that is connected to the Internet and opens up terabytes on online storage to anyone with $300, and to this I would add […]semantic web and synthetic intelligence architectures–these all combine into finally making possible the electronic connectivity of poor and working class voters, not just the declining middle class and the wealthy. 2008 is the earliest that we might see this, but I suspect it won't be until after two more 9-11's, closer to 2012.

There are a number of gems throughout the book, and I will just list a few phrases here:

— politics of concentric circles–find the pebble in every town

— polling substitute's conviction for bullshit (his word)

— citing Robert Putnam in “Bowling Alone,” every hour of television watching translates to a 10% drop in civic involvement

— what gets destroyed in scorched earth politics is democracy

— McCain led the way for Dean in using the Internet and being an insurgent (“the Republican branch of the Republican Party”)

— the dirty secret of US politics is that fund-raising (and I would add, gerrymandering) take the election decision out of the hands of voters

— the existing party machines are dinosaurs, focused on control rather than empowerment–like government bureaucracies, they cannot accept nor leverage disruptive innovation (see my review of “The Innovator's Solution”)

— Open Source Rules–boy, do I agree with him here. He describes Dean's campaign as the first really committed “open source” campaign, and this is at the heart of the book (pages 98-99). One reason I have come to believe in open source software, open source intelligence, and open spectrum is that I see all three as essential to the dismantling of the Maginot line of politics, institutional dominance of money and votes on the Hill.

— Media will miss the message. He has bitter words for the media spin and aggression that helped bring Dean down, but his more thoughtful remarks really emphasize the mediocrity of the entertainment media and its inability to think for itself.

— TIRED: transactional politics. WIRED: transformational politics

— Democratic fratricide killed Dean–Gephardt on his own, and Clark with backing from Clinton, killed the insurgency

— Cumulative Intelligence is a term that Trippi uses, and he puts in a strong advertisement for Google's gmail that I found off-putting. Googling on the term “collective intelligence” will get one to the real revolutionaries. When he quotes Google as saying it will “harness the cumulative intelligence of its customers” this reminds me of my own phrase from the early 1990's, one Mike Nelson put in one of Al Gore's speeches, about the need to harness the distributed intelligence of the Whole Earth. My point: we don't need Google to get there–collective intelligence is already happening, and Google is a side show.

Tripi's final chapter has “seven rules”: 1) Be first; 2) Keep it moving; 3) Use an authentic voice; 4) Tell the truth; 5) Build a community; 6) Cede control; 7) Believe again.

There are a rather lame few pages at the end on Change for America. Forget it. Change for America is going to be bottom-up, from the county level.

I want to end by noting that at one point, on page 156, I wrote in the margin, “this is a moving book,” but also express my frustration at how unwilling Dean and Trippi were to listening to those of us (Jock Gill, Michael Cudahay, myself), who tried very hard to propose a 24/7 team of retired Marine Corps watchstanders with structured staff processes; a massive outreach to non-Democratic voters including the 20$ of the moderate Republican wing ready to switch. On page 161 Trippi writes “The truth is that we never really fixed the inherent problems in the organization that I saw that first day….” I could not help but write in the margin, “We told them so.”

The problem with Dean and Trippi is they became enchanted with the blogs and the newness of its all–as well as the fund-raising–and lost sight of the fundamentals. The winner in 2008 or 2012 will have to strike a better balance. One other note: the revolution that Trippi talks about is sweeping through Latin America, with active Chinese, Korean, and Japanese interest. It is just possible that electronic populism will triumph in Latin America before public intelligence becomes commonplace in America.

See also:
A Power Governments Cannot Suppress
One from Many: VISA and the Rise of Chaordic Organization
Society's Breakthrough!: Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People
The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World That Works for All
The World Cafe: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter
The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World
Collective Intelligence: Mankind's Emerging World in Cyberspace
Group Genius: The Creative Power of Collaboration
All Rise: Somebodies, Nobodies, and the Politics of Dignity (BK Currents)
Escaping the Matrix: How We the People can change the world

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