July 21, 2003  ·  Lessig

I’m almost back after a week away (we’re moving this week so I’m not really back till the 28th), but I wanted to thank the Governor for visiting. I have read his posts, and the couple by his campaign, and have just begun to go through the comments.

The appearance by Governor Dean here has created lots of excitement, some stir, and a bit of anger. I’ve been requested by the University to move my blog to a personal server, which is fine and right given FEC regulations. I’ve been asked by many (and especially supporters of Senator Edwards) whether Dean’s appearance means an endorsement.

But that’s just what was perfect about how this week happened. The Dean campaign asked for no endorsement. Indeed, they asked for nothing save the right to substitute if the Governor didn’t have a chance to post. Rather than the drama of an irrelevant endorsement, this week instead was a chance to expand the places a candidate visits in a campaign for public office. It is better than a house, better than a town hall, better than anything on TV. And imho, more candidates should do it regularly.

I invited Dean in particular because so much of the success of his campaign has come from those who spend time on the Internet, and I suggested that the mix who spent time at my blog had a valuable set of insights that might be useful to understanding the issues that rage on these pages.

But as I’ve said before, these issues are not the central issues of a presidential campaign (yet, anyway). And necessarily, any attention a presidential campaign gives to these issues will be for the purpose of learning. No one launches a campaign for President in 2004 with the aim to “free culture” or limit the excesses of creative regulation. These issues are important. Every administration will have to address them. But they do not yet define a campaign or its message. (We’ll see about 2008.)

So obviously, I would be honored to have other candidates take a week here if they want. But whether it is here or elsewhere, every serious candidate should spend time in just such an open, egalitarian place. Everyone now recognizes that the leading Democratic candidate is the leading candidate in part because of how his message spreads in places like this. They should all find places where they can do the same — unprotected by handlers, exposed to many with strong and deep knowledge of a subject, and open to fair criticism. Let there be one week on a blog for every five choreographed “town halls”, and we’ll begin to see something interesting.

Neutrality aside, though, Governor Dean has earned a special respect. Of course there are issues on which I would disagree with anyone. But I have been struck in reading these posts, and the passion they inspired. They revive a feeling I had as a kid — that ideas could matter, and that there could be people who would make them matter.

They matter here not so much because of the detail of any response, but because of the willingness to carry a message to places like this, and because of the effect these places have on those who spend time in them. If I’ve learned anything as I’ve watched places like this, it is that the best strategy is always simply to say what is right and true, trolls notwithstanding.

Our democracy needs more of this. It needs more candidates spending time in places like this. I am therefore grateful to the Governor for taking the lead. We should all be grateful, our personal politics notwithstanding, if more follow.

  • http://onefatherfordean.blogspot.com One Father For Dean

    Thank you for allowing this to occur….It still is all good…

  • Jane S. Jones

    I gather you invited the California Governor to make his comments on your “blog” and that Governor Dean took on when Davis demurred. Have you had other politicos participate before? If yes, why is Stanford asking you to set up another website now?
    This is my first time on this kind of communication. How will we know what other website you establish and when?
    I think your idea is fabulous. I hope it keeps going like gangbusters. In the meantime, I have no comments to make re Dean; I want to hear from those other folks as well. So far, what’s been in the papers seems like so much Pablum. Now, that dates me:)

  • Bruce Watson

    Thanks to Lawrence Lessig – a voice of reason in unreasonable times. This was an excellent idea, and I too hope that more candidates will take advantage of what the technology will allow. It sure wouldn’t hurt the USA to become more of a democracy, and this is one path to that destination. I hope it becomes a well worn path…

  • PJ

    A good point, Mr. Lessig: I like Gov. Dean for the same reasons I read science fiction and play with technology: because he makes me feel like there’s hope for a tomorrow that’s actually *better* than today, by a measurable amount. His goals aren’t to hold to the status quo, but to improve things.

    “Aim for the stars; you may not hit them, but at least you won’t blow your foot off”

  • ed

    Dean’s guest blogging has been great.
    To generate over 200 replies from people per comment (which likely means at least a few thousand more read each comment) shows (i) the incredible democratizing potential of the Internet for direct, unfiltered communication and (ii) Dean’s foresight (and courage) to use this medium to reach people. A great moment for the Internet.

  • Jack Kessler

    > move my blog to a personal server, which is fine and right given FEC regulations

    I don’t understand. Is this “engagement in a political campaign”?

    Seems instead like a valid educational purpose, to me. That’s certainly why _I_ logged on: fascinating to me that interactive Internet media might play a role in US politics, going forward — real tired of seeing the electorate simply spoonfed by the TV.

    Hope I’ll never see another canned / vetted / scripted / rehearsed Clinton-era “Town Meeting”, on the tube: right message on the wrong medium. You gave us all a chance, here, to experiment with the right message on the right medium — interactive Internet, ideally-suited for interactive democratic politics — and for this I’m grateful, and Stanford ought to be too. Working laboratory for tomorrow’s politics…

    I might have logged on to a Kerryblog, or a Gephardtblog, or a Liebermanblog, if it had been one of those — may still, if you can do them — and happy to log on to a Bushblog, even, if you can arrange that, altho just be sure that it really is the candidate, and not Karl Rove…

    Discouraging, somehow, that an educational institution might consider this to have been merely partisan politics. The country badly needs educating in new ways of enhancing our democracy, such as this experiment presented: if we don’t have the courage to try that, then the rest of our “education” won’t mean very much.

  • Rob

    The university probably wants to avoid any possible perception of their endorsing a political candidate.

    Having Dean sit in was a good idea, but I have to agree with Eric Brunner-Williams:

    Had this been an equivalent USENET or LISTSERV community, zero substantive content from the guest celeb and lots of off-topic wander plus a wandering chorus of nothing�s-wrong-be-happy acolytes of the celeb, and paper-thin celeb responsive commentary � on the process or the comments themselves. Berk!

    IMHO, this experiment has been a failure. A faceless campaign elf doing I�ll-get-back-to-you-on-that would have worked. This did not. The �oppo research� is not that the candidate wrote something both modestly memorable and arguably incorret (spinably stupid), it is that there was no there there at all. When handed an issue blog of note, the candidate stumbled. Whoever tries it next can�t do worse.

    Apologies for the out-of-context quote. Did Dean contribute any followups during the discussion of any of his posts? If so, I never saw it.

    This was a missed opportunity. But you have to start somewhere, and at least he posted a couple of times even if it was pretty much “staying on message” stuff.

    Would this be the time for me to bring up what I consider a great movie about elections? If you haven’t seen it, go find “The Candidate” starring Robert Redford.

  • http://nic-naa.net Eric Brunner-Williams

    Rob,

    My SO just got done with doing the filings for the Portland (Maine) Democratic City Committee, and from here at least, the Lessing blog looks like a campaign contribution — I’m hosting one of Chellie Pingree’s (ex-ME Senate, co-author of the ME Rx plan, in and out of the hands of the Supremes, now chair of Common Cause) campaign elves doing her first campaign web-face, and even though it is zippo disk/bandwidth/cycles footprint (that is, it is technically “free”, consuming less than 15 minutes of my social life), it is a contribution that a clean elections campaign has to declare, and at market rates.

    The quote doesn’t seem out of context to me. Then again, I quote that guy all the time, without attribution, and in any context. I didn’t catch the name of the commentor who mentioned “the fray”, citing The Well’s culture, but we’re on the same page. I expect someone to stand and deliver, even a guy who makes Abenakis reach for garlic, and make a case for something. Lessig is more gracious.

    I wish Joe Reagle (W3C) hadn’t fixed the graphic, the Oompa Loomp look was drole.

    Eric Brunner-Williams

  • http://uncorked.org/medley/ Medley

    Far be it from me to question the FEC, but it seems to me that popping in to say a few words on someone’s weblog should no more count as a campaign contribution than dropping by the local diner to meet and greet. It’s one thing to host someone’s official campaign webspace (analogous to campaign headquarters, say), but it’s quite another to say that anywhere a candidate might post a guest or entry or even a comment must count as a campaign contribution. IANAL — probably something for the courts to decide.

    As for the university complaining — do they complain if political science professors invite politicians to their classes for guest lectures? I sense many gray areas here. Larry’s the expert here — perhaps this is a chapter in the next book? :-)

  • Thomas

    I find it strange that a man who won’t accept restrictions on copyrights so willing accepts FEC regulations as “given.”

    Perhaps before we “free culture” we should have “free elections.”

  • J.B. Nicholson-Owens

    Lawrence Lessig wrote:

    It is better than a house, better than a town hall, better than anything on TV.

    I disagree. I think it was significantly worse than any of these forums. Thanks for the time and resources to conduct the experiment, but I think it was a failure. For a viewer, there is better interaction on radio or TV than on the blog. For example, I learn a lot from watching hours of candidate lecture/Q&A forums on C-SPAN even though I’m not in any of those audiences. There, the candidate cannot simply ignore the question being asked, some response must be given (even if it’s some political dismissal that doesn’t really answer the point being raised). In this setting, I have a good idea when I’m being bullshitted and I think audience members do too. I see/hear them respond with mutterings in the audience when bad answers happen. For the TV viewers, there’s a chance to see the candidate react to something on the spot and this helps viewers get a sense of what issues the candidate deems important enough to memorize something about.

    But Dean didn’t leverage his lead time well here. Dean had the opportunity to research something related to copyright issues before coming here. I see little (if any) evidence he did that. To me this comes off as profoundly disrespectful of the audience. During the (mostly one-way) discussion, he had time to compose a response that would give us some inkling of what he was thinking on any copyright related issue (which is the main topic on this blog). Instead we were told he is learning but with no details on what he has learned and where he needs clarification and insight. It was a remarkably fruitless endeavor for us out here who aren’t fans of Dean (like so many of the posters were last week). Just to be clear, I’m not against Dean, nor am I for Dean. I (like most people in this country) know little of Dean.

    Even for other issues, Dean’s visit was a waste of time. I’m interested in learning more about what he has to offer in other subject areas but I lost all desire to raise salient points about something he should have known off-the-cuff (like why his health care plan isn’t universal health care and when the Democrats are going to stop trying to play nicey-nice with the HMOs; only Kucinich seems to be doing this in his health care plan and I will be surprised if Kucinich is chosen as the Democratic Party candidate in 2004). But I saw other issues of national importance (FCC, invasion of Iraq rationale, Iraq exit plan, and justification for war not panning out months after “major operations” ended) get short shrift in his blog entries, so I figured “what’s the point?” and decided to skip lessig.org for the most part only casually perusing what other people had said well after Dean left.

    For me, the experiment was a bust. I find myself in agreement with the quote from Eric Brunner-Williams (thanks to Rob for providing a copy of it). Furthermore, if this is the level of feedback I can expect from a White House blog or from future candidates, I say don’t bother. If Dean wants to learn what role this or that technology can play in bridging the digital divide, there are plenty of places he can go read that will tell him. I’m guessing someone has links to blogs featuring conversation on this matter too. If you want to host a blog, put your time into something that won’t come off as half-assed. I can get stump speech retread anywhere online. I don’t need another copy of it on blogs. And blogs are not the Linda Richmond show (“Intellectual property is neither intellectual nor property–Discuss!”)–hosts must participate in the responses for the conversation to be fruitful for all involved.

    As disappointed as I am, I’m not surprised. I still don’t see any significant portion of the public participating in blogs (even though it seems like there are so many of them) so I can’t figure most politicians would spend any real time cultivating an audience with the blogosphere. I figure Dean is able to raise so much money via the Internet because there are so many people online who dislike Bush to the point of “anyone but Bush” (which is a danger unto itself, but a discussion for another blog).

  • Me

    Gotta say — Dean’s visit turned out to be a colossal waste.

    At least one bona fide no-show, and days where we asked about Y and he completely ignored it and rambled about Z instead. We ask about IP, he comes back on “Digital Divide.” We wait for substance, we get a stump speech.

    If you didn’t realize what he, or at least his campaign manager, planned to do with the time on your blog… then here is your reality check. You got used, Lessig. You got used, bamboozled. Dean didn’t live up to any expectations at all; your blog would have been better off if it had simply had a “Gone fishin” sign up for the week.

  • Kallah

    I’m going to have to agree with the negative comments here. We got a week of bland, vague stump speeches that addressed no substantive issues at all. We got nothing resembling dialogue, nothing that resembled anything so much as a week of pre-written press releases with occasional hastily-added sentences to make it appear as if this was something other than free advertising.

    You got used, Lessig. Dean has probably lost himself some votes. He had a chance to prove he was different from the rest of the pack – and he blew it.

  • mal

    I wonder if the powers that be would have been so quick to move your blog had the guest blogger been Bush.

    That brings to mind – maybe you can have a presidental debate blog on your new site – the candidates would have time to research issues and it would address some of the other commenters concerns that this was a bit shallow and one sided. It wouldnt replace a face to face debate but could supplement it without artifical time limits. Think how much time they’d save on hair and makeup alone.

  • Ed Lyons

    I also found it odd that Gov. Dean did not engage the audience. His staff said he would read all the comments – but I don’t find that likely. I barely had the time to read them and I am neither running for president nor in possession of a staff that does such things for me.

    Since his blog entries were replicated on his own website, the only hope is that he did read the comments, otherwise, your blog has simply been a mirror for his site.

    But, as I am sure you think, even if he read one compelling argument about intellectual property that he would not have otherwise seen – this was a victory.

    Thanks for the experiment.

    Ed

  • Me

    I wonder if the powers that be would have been so quick to move your blog if:

    Dean hadn’t made a bunch of campaign speech posts.

    Dean hadn’t ignored our comments and gone rambling off on his own direction each time.

    Dean hadn’t been so obviously ghost-written for in one instance, and had a no-show post written by someone on his campaign staff that we didn’t even know had been cleared to post.

    Dean hadn’t started soliciting campaign contributions on your blog.

    Any one, or all, of these things could have done it.

    So here’s my suggestion; If you’re moving your blog anyways, invite him back. But this time, lay down some ground rules. No stump speeches. No soliciting donations.

    Just honest dialogue with us.

    If he takes it and follows through on it, we’ve made our point. If he refuses, we know better than to trust him ever again.

  • J.B. Nicholson-Owens

    mal (re: Would Stanford object if Bush guest blogged here): good point.

    Me (re: ground rules for another Dean appearance): I like the idea, but there’s no real penalty for disobeying the ground rules. Dean would just continue to repeat stump speech material and the Dean groupies would arrive…again. It could be interesting confirmation of all the points raised by the objectors (including myself) but I think there are other interesting subjects we could spend the same time talking about.

    I think what we really need is free prime-time uninterrupted TV airtime for all ballot-qualified candidates. Even though I know no third party is likely to win a state in 2004, we need someone to raise important issues that won’t be raised by either the Republicans or the Democrats. Where does the Democratic party stand on this? Where do they stand on putting up a candidate that is seriously different from Bush on the issues? Time will tell, I suppose.

  • Me

    You’re right — we need a penalty.

    So, get it in writing. And if/when he breaks it, present both the evidence thereof, and the copy of his written agreement, to the press.

    I have no doubt a few seconds of “Dean can’t be trusted to keep his word even during the campaign” on most of the national news shows would do wonders.

  • Matthew Morse

    Unlike many of the commenters, I do think having a Presidential candidate blog here was ground-breaking. I think at least some of the criticism is based on not recognizing the difference between blogs and other media. As I said in an email to the Dean campaign, most campaigning is based on speeches, but blogs are conversational.

    Some of Dean’s posts were better than others, but I think the ones that were best were the ones in which he said the least, because those were the ones where he asked questions. Readers who complained that he didn’t do enough to lay out his positions on the issues shouldn’t have been reading this blog. They should just visit his website.

    Most of the candidates do a reasonably good job of making speeches with their websites. It’s not hard to figure out where the candidate stands and what the candidate thinks is important. (Here’s a hint. Anything that the candidate doesn’t talk about is something the candidate doesn’t think is important.) On the whole, the websites have failed to keep my interest, because the content is basically that of a speech. The thing about speeches is that it doesn’t matter if the audience is actually there or not. The speech would be just the same.

    I have been mesmerized by the Dean campaign blog, despite the fact that I have major disagreements with Dean on various issues. The reason why is that a blog is a conversation. What the readers say actually matters. Dean is encouraging general participation in his campaign, which is empowering and motivating.

    Some readers may be doubtful that he actually paid attention to the answers after he asked about what we thought was important, but when was the last time a politician asked for your opinion at all? He may not have brought forth fully developed policies on copyright, broadband, and spectrum, but he’s ahead of everyone else just by asking. If this leads to more politicians asking questions, sooner or later they will start realizing the benefit of listening to the answers, and then we all win.

    His posts weren’t great, but by participating on the blog at all, he is changing his campaign style from one-way speeches to two-way conversations. If he keeps working at it and the other candidates start participating, the conversation will get better. And if conversations rather than speeches become the norm, that will be a transformative moment for American politics.

  • Jack Kessler

    Pretty good anti-Dean firestorm, running here… in several cases more than just the anti-Internet which it pretends to be, ‘seems to me… I am just going to address the anti-Internet points, but Dean himself didn’t come off all that badly either, in this little online interactivity experiment, IMHO…

    > posted by J.B. Nicholson-Owens on Jul 21 03 at 9:59 PM
    >
    > Lawrence Lessig wrote:
    >
    >> It is better than a house, better than a town hall, better
    >> than anything on TV.
    >
    > I disagree. I think it was significantly worse than any of these forums. Thanks for the time and resources to conduct the experiment, but I think it was a failure. For a viewer, there is better interaction on radio or TV than on the blog.

    On “radio or TV”?… How do you “interact” using a radio, or a TV?…

    > For example, I learn a lot from watching hours of candidate lecture/Q&A forums on C-SPAN even though I�m not in any of those audiences. There, the candidate cannot simply ignore the question being asked, some response must be given…

    Those things are staged / canned / scripted. Think of the Kennedy-Nixon debates — or the Clinton “Town Meetings” — are you going to tell me that you don’t know exactly what each candidate is going to say, and what the reporters and even the pre-screened “audiences” are going to ask them? Mere cosmetic beauty contests, all of them: “Nixon didn’t shave…”, “Kennedy looked so ‘youthful’…”, “Clinton ‘seemed so at ease’…”, lots of caller-screening and caller-squelching and no real “discussion”…

    > In this setting, I have a good idea when I�m being bullshitted and I think audience members do too.

    Sure glad _you_ do. _I_ don’t. I think audiences, of those things, are thinking — at most — “Nixon didn’t shave…”, “Kennedy looked so ‘youthful’…”, “Clinton ‘seemed so at ease’…”, “Gee, that caller was clever…”

    If they’re not just thinking, that is, “When’s the ballgame come on?…”, or, “I’ve gotta let out the cat…”

    > I see/hear them respond with mutterings in the audience when bad answers happen. For the TV viewers, there�s a chance to see the candidate react to something on the spot…

    That’s “acting”. There are good actors, and there are bad actors. Kennedy and Reagan were good actors. Mondale and Gore were bad actors. So now we elect our politicians for their acting abilities…

    > and this helps viewers get a sense of what issues the candidate deems important enough to memorize something about.

    Nope, not their “issues”, their “acting”… If an issue is important the position shouldn’t need memorization. Acting scripts are for memorization.

    > But Dean didn�t leverage his lead time well here. Dean had the opportunity to research something related to copyright issues before coming here. I see little… evidence he did that.

    Dean had no idea whatsoever of what he was getting into, here. The guy is 54 years old. He went to medical school, and then practiced medicine, and then was a state governor — and along the way he helped raise kids. Unlikely, therefore, that there ever was, in any of that, time to become a “blogging” expert — or even to understand The Internet. For one thing it all was invented long after “free time” had disappeared, for him.

    Dean is the wrong generation for that — I’m 54 years old, too — ask his kids, if you want real Internet and blogging expertise…

    For this blog Dean probably wrote out a little blurb, probably longhand, then laboriously hand-typed it into a laptop somewhere — didn’t have time to take “typing” in school either, I’ll bet — and then he pressed a button, as someone instructed over his shoulder, and probably he felt a secret thrill when he saw his own words come up on the screen. I still get a kick myself out of watching “wordwrap” work, in word processors — pure magic… Only people younger than 30 take all of this digital stuff for granted and have any intuitive “feel” for it, really.

    > To me this comes off as profoundly disrespectful of the audience.

    You have the wrong culprit. It wasn’t the audience. It was just fear of, or at least unfamiliarity with, the technology. He said so. Ask any 54-year-old. I wonder how much “blogging” George Bush has done…

    > During the (mostly one-way) discussion, he had time to compose a response that would give us some inkling of what he was thinking on any copyright related issue (which is the main topic on this blog). Instead we were told he is learning but with no details on what he has learned and where he needs clarification and insight.

    So he needs to spend several hours per day online, like few in his generation do and like everyone in the subsequent generations does. So he’s a little old. He is the first to have done even this much, though. Don’t tell me that Clinton “blogs”. I think Dean gets credit, here, for pioneering at least.

    Also, I personally respect someone who tells me honestly that he “doesn’t know”. The Nets, and politics, are filled with experts, who know everything: you scratch them a bit, and they’re as ignorant as the rest of us. Dean is not one of those.

    > It was a remarkably fruitless endeavor for us out here who aren�t fans of Dean (like so many of the posters were last week).

    And a lot weren’t. Re-read those archives.

    > Just to be clear, I�m not against Dean, nor am I for Dean. I (like most people in this country) know little of Dean.

    I think you are wrong, about “most people in this country” — both as to whether they know anything about Dean, and whether they are for him.

    Dean has been getting more press than all of the other candidates put together, recently: all except that candidate-currently-in-the-White-House, who has been using his elective office to support himself.

    And remember that the latter was “elected” by less than half of the voters, who represented only slightly more than half of those who ought to have voted: so it is not entirely clear to me that “most people in this country” aren’t “for Dean”, as well… we’ll see…

    But I’m trying to talk just Internet here, not politics…

    > Even for other issues, Dean�s visit was a waste of time. I�m interested in learning more about what he has to offer in other subject areas but I lost all desire to raise salient points about something he should have known off-the-cuff (like why his health care plan isn�t universal health care and when the Democrats are going to stop trying to play nicey-nice with the HMOs)

    You missed the point of “Dean’s visit”, I think. This is the first time that I ever have corresponded directly with a Presidential candidate. When was the last time that _you_ did? If you think TV is a substitute for this well I’d say no, it’s not. Yes it would have been nice if Dean had given each one of us a thoughtful and personalized response to each of our postings. But in terms of direct contact this blog-contact still had it ‘way over any Bush or Reagan or even Kennedy hand-shake or “photo-op”, in my own opinon.

    > I saw other issues of national importance (FCC, invasion of Iraq rationale, Iraq exit plan, and justification for war not panning out months after �major operations� ended) get short shrift in his blog entries, so I figured �what�s the point?� and decided to skip lessig.org for the most part only casually perusing what other people had said well after Dean left.

    You give up easily. If these issues interested you, why didn’t you raise them? One way of getting inside a candidate’s head would have been to debate an issue with the rest of us. We would have argued with you, or agreed. Then, reading that later on, Dean himself at least would have seen and remembered.

    By staying silent, you missed the point: the blog gave _you_ an opportunity to speak — and an opportunity to speak more directly, to a presidential candidate and his campaign, than most media have provided since Geo. Washington rode the hustings on his horse.

    > For me, the experiment was a bust. I find myself in agreement with the quote from Eric Brunner-Williams… Furthermore, if this is the level of feedback I can expect from a White House blog or from future candidates, I say don�t bother. If Dean wants to learn what role this or that technology can play in bridging the digital divide, there are plenty of places he can go read that will tell him… If you want to host a blog, put your time into something that won�t come off as half-assed. I can get stump speech retread anywhere online. I don�t need another copy of it on blogs. And blogs are not the Linda Richmond show (�Intellectual property is neither intellectual nor property–Discuss!�)–hosts must participate in the responses for the conversation to be fruitful for all involved.

    This statement seems clever, but sounds preconceived and is not really relevant.

    Look, if that really wasn’t Dean, on the blog, then you may have a point. I see the #1 methodological question, in guest-blogging as a political technique, being the verification of just who exactly is doing the blogging — “On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog”, right.

    But consider, for a moment, if it really was Dean… a 54-year-old doctor, busy running for President of the US, unfamiliar with the Nets much less with the 20-somethings who largely inhabit them, and certainly unfamiliar with “The Fray” which typifies their content… Well, then, you just missed your chance for having direct democratic political input into the mind of the person who may be running the country for the next four years. His loss, maybe, and definitely your own…

    Time magazine and TV debates are no substitute: those are “one-way” mechanisms — candidates don’t read the “letters to the editor”, there.

    I believe, myself, that Dean and his campaign deserve a whole lot of credit for having tried this experiment, and that Lessig deserves same. If Dean and the others now retreat to the safety, and conventionality, of canned TV and radio performances, and advertising spots, and prepared statements and speechifying and the rest — as you recommend — US democracy will have missed its chance as well, for great improvement and extension.

    > As disappointed as I am, I�m not surprised. I still don�t see any significant portion of the public participating in blogs… so I can�t figure most politicians would spend any real time cultivating an audience with the blogosphere.

    You are saying that the public doesn’t participate in blogs because the public doesn’t participate in blogs…

    > I figure Dean is able to raise so much money via the Internet because there are so many people online who dislike Bush to the point of �anyone but Bush�

    Could very well be true, too… But, again, not the point of the blog… What you say here about “spoiler voting” also could be true if this had been, instead of a blog, an advertising spot, or a TV debate, or a stump speech: there always are going to be some people who vote for a guy simply because they don’t like the other.

    The “blog” question, tho, is “what difference did the ‘blog’ make?” And again, to my mind anyway, that difference is the chance for direct contact: of the voter with the candidate, and also of the candidate with the voter. Rubber-chicken picnics and Elks Club speeches and TV “interviews” all are secondhand, and staged: how much “substantive” discussion can you really have, with a stranger, over a plateful of fried chicken?

    It _would_ have been nice if Dean had “gotten” the idea of give-and-take, in this blogging experiment — like the rapidfire 20-somethings who trade smart ‘n snappy one-liners all day & nite long online. Dean is the wrong generation for that. Still, though, he tried: which puts him head and shoulders above all the rest of the field, IMO — Dean at least is willing to try things, where he doesn’t feel entirely comfortable, while the rest all opt for the comfort of the familiar.

    When one of Dean’s kids is running a primary against Chelsea Clinton, the victor going up against Jenna Bush in the election, _then_ you’ll see a generation entirely comfortable with this technology. But for now you have to tolerate a few BabyBoomer pioneers — this blog was pioneering, and Dean is one such pioneer.

  • Anonymous

    Giving “free prime-time uninterrupted TV airtime” to candidates is a BAD idea. If your ideas cannot garner enough support to pay for your own television commercials, then why should the government, and by extension me, pay to spread your ideas? Why do people think the government should support each of their pet causes? There are reasons why third party candidates, and their causes, stay in the single digits – their ideas are unpopular!

  • Andy L

    I just want to thank Dr. Lessig and Howard Dean for setting up this stimulating and healthy disussion. I believe that this has been a truly honorable and successful expirement. I very much enjoyed following the ideas and comments and I wish both of you best of luck. Thanks!

  • Karl

    I can’t possibly see how you could consider last week to have been a ‘healthy discussion’. The exchange was the epitome of two ships passing in the night. There was not even an attempt to clash on substantive issues from the Dean campaign; it was pap.

    -kd

  • gws

    Giving �free prime-time uninterrupted TV airtime� to candidates is a BAD idea. If your ideas cannot garner enough support to pay for your own television commercials, then why should the government, and by extension me, pay to spread your ideas? Why do people think the government should support each of their pet causes? There are reasons why third party candidates, and their causes, stay in the single digits – their ideas are unpopular!

    Wow, that’s inane. Actually, even if I have ideas that are really popular with people, unless I can tell them the ideas they’ll never know what they are, thus they will never give me any money to support me.

    Case in point: had Nader been allowed to participate in the 2000 presidential debates he would have received more airtime and viewers than he had had on his entire campaign up to that point. Since he didn’t have the poll numbers to be “allowed” to participate in the debates, he stayed a piddling 3rd party candidate. (exactly as the republidems wanted)

  • Karl

    Correlation is not causation gws. I have a pencil on my desk, and there are no tigers around. That doesn’t mean I don’t have a tiger-repelling pencil on my desk.

    You ignore the most pertinent line of the poster’s comment, “Why do people think the government should support each of their pet causes?” If you can come up with a rational answer to that question, perhaps we might begin to have a better discourse on the issue of ‘Free Time for All’.

    -kd

  • Karl

    That should read: “That doesn’t mean I have a tiger-repelling pencil on my desk.”

    -kd

  • cal godot

    Surprise, surprise. The anti-Dean (such as “Me”) crowd was disappointed with the Dean posts. Nothing would please these whiners and complainers. If Dean showed up in their living room tomorrow, they’d be pissed that he didn’t bring potato chips.

    Personally, I didn’t expect Dean to respond to comments, and he posted more than I expected him to post. I fully expected one post from Dean, then 3/4 from Trippi, explaining why Dean was too busy to post. That Dean posted at all is damn near a miracle in this political climate. (As another remarked, when was the last time you even had a chance at a dialog with a leading Presidential candidate?)

    Guess what? Dean is running for President. He’s not sitting on his ass collecting unemployment like most of the people who have time to post on the blogs (myself included, except for the benefits, which ran out long ago). He’s BUSY. Too busy to reply to replies, many of which were self-serving ego speeches that merited no reply. I’m sure he was handed a printout of the blog replies, and I’m certain he wondered what the hell most of the replies were about. (I know I felt a certain sense of embarassment that Dean might have to read the ranting of Me and some of the other trolls.)

    I hope that Kallah is the only one dumb enough to refuse to vote for Dean because he didn’t spend his entire week in dialog with the Lessig blog visitors.

  • Ed Lyons

    Hey Guys –

    Let’s all be nice here! :-)

    The experiment I imagine professor Lessig was trying to do here was to see what would happen if a presidential candidate tried to blog on a third-party site dedicated to a particular set of issues.

    I imagine the goals might have been:

    1. To see if blogging, in general, provides a new style of dialogue that is valuable in presidential campaigns (though it didn’t have to be Professor Lessig’s blog for that).

    2. To see if blogging to a particular interest group on a certain set of issues makes it easier to find and resolve the points of contention in controversies between the candidate and the audience.

    3. To find a new way to focus a candidate’s attention on a set of issues without a large, established, well-funded constituency already behind it.

    4. To give members of a particular interest group a chance to evaluate a candidate based on content directly relevant to them.

    I doubt the intent was:

    1. To debate the governor’s positions on issues outside the scope of the interest group.

    2. To find out how natural a “blogger” the governor is.

    3. To take positions for or against Dean in general based on facts not in evidence here in the blog.

    Of the potential goals I listed above, I personally found only #3 (focusing him on issues) to be a potential benefit of this experiment. I found myself unable to evaluate him on issues related to intellectual property, and there wasn’t enough material in general for me to make an evaluation of him that I could not have made elsewhere. I would have hoped that he would have at least, out of respect to Professor Lessig, revealed whether he would sign the Eldred Act.

    But, as Woody Allen says, 80% of life is showing up. And he did.

  • p mac

    Heads up about the “dean blog experiement”. If nothing else, Dean’s blogging here has made the Dean campaign more aware of the issues you folks like to discuss.

    They are running a Doc Searles article on intellectual property as a news clip on their blog.

  • http://nic-naa.net Eric Brunner-Williams

    Reverend Sharpton is returning fromWest Africa overnight. I’ll ask him if he’d like to blog. I don’t mind setting one up.

  • http://www.paydemocracy.com/campaigns/1017 mojo

    Raise a billion from Dean: http://www.paydemocracy.com/campaigns/1017

    (originally posted Jul 24 03 at 5:34 PM)

  • Bob Myers

    I don�t understand the point of having a guest blogger. Why can�t people post to their own blogs? By inviting Gov. Dean as a guest blogger, there is no way to avoid the perception, and the reality, that you are supporting this particular candidate to the exclusion of others. By what criteria are you going to choose your next guest blogger? Can I be a guest blogger? Guest blogging violates a basic tenet of blogosophy which is that your blog is just that, your blog, not someone else�s.

    (originally posted Jul 24 03 at 11:02 PM)

  • Kallah

    I’m not on unemployment and I’ve been steadily employed for five years now, thanks.

    I hadn’t made up my mind about Dean before he showed up here. He lost my vote by ignoring the audience he was speaking to (sin #1 in politics: thou shalt speak to thy actual audience, not a generic one), giving out insultingly vague and bland stump speeches, and having no idea what he was talking about.

    Lessig advertised this to us as a chance to get to know Dean. Many people here didn’t like what they saw and are saying so. Deal.

  • http://www.aaronsw.com/ Aaron Swartz
  • http://www.theassassinations.com Lisa Pease

    Wow. What a bunch of whiners. I had expected more from Lessig’s audience, because Lessig himself is so erudite. I’m sorry Dean’s precious time was wasted on some of the people here who clearly believe their own agendas are far more important than finding out about the people who are running for the chance to lead this country next year. We all get the government we deserve. But some of us are working very hard to make up for the rest. We may yet succeed, especially with a campaign like Dean’s.

  • Lee Kane

    This is strange. I’d heard about Dean’s guest blogging and then, just now, I read Larry’s own summation of the week of Dean blogging in which he talks about how great it was and how one blog is worth a dozen town hall meetings or some such. And then I scrolled down and read the posts and, well, what’s the big deal? Dean posted a couple of times, beat the same horses he always beats in the same made-for-tv language all candidates use: no more insight or information presented, nothing more than what I’d get in about 2 minutes of watching Dean be interviewed on a Sunday morning talk show. I daresay a townhall would have given me more! Now, this is to be expected: running for president is not an idle occupation, leaving one time to blog: especially when every word one says/writes must be carefully reviewed with an eye toward its implications, etc. So anyways–conceptually the guest blog was ultra cool. Practically, well, I’m sorry. Anyway, non-partisan 2 cents.

  • Karl

    “I�m sorry Dean�s precious time was wasted on some of the people here who clearly believe their own agendas are far more important…”

    That’s just it, Lisa…Dean didn’t spend any ‘precious time’ on this blog. All he did was use it as a mirror of his own for a week. He made no attempt to address the issues this blog exists for, and his campaign handlers insulted our intelligence on at least one occasion by posting in his name. I’ll say it again, it was pap.

    -kd

  • Lee Kane

    Yes, Lisa–Simply because people read a blog and consider voting does not also make them sheep ready to bleat abject thanks because Dean simply showed up. Little of substance beyond the usual was said. Generic pablum was put forth. No issues relevant to this blog were addressed substantively. Is this a reason to froth? No, but people should call it like they read it and they’ve done so. Others have had more generous opinions and that’s fine too.

    PS. Why does Lessig have a purple fern in the corner of his blog?

  • Karl

    Re: the purple fern. It appears to be some sort of symbol for the law school. It appears on their homepage behind the words Stanford Law School.

    -kd

  • Anonymous

    Good comments.

  • J.B. Nicholson-Owens

    Jack Kessler wrote:

    Pretty good anti-Dean firestorm, running here�

    I think it is a crowd of people who want to talk copyright (and related issues) and got virtually nothing from Dean. There’s nothing “anti-Internet” here either (as if people here would bother continuing to participate on Lessig’s blog if they are somehow against the Internet).

    On �radio or TV�?� How do you �interact� using a radio, or a TV?�

    Call-in shows, submitting e-mail, and showing up to participate in person are three that come to mind for me (two of which I’ve done myself). But getting back to the topic of blogging: Dean didn’t take advantage of the lead time this medium affords nor did he respond to topical points made by others. This, for me, helped set up an atmosphere where I didn’t want to participate because I have better things to do than get stump speech reruns.

    Dean had no idea whatsoever of what he was getting into, here. The guy is 54 years old. He went to medical school…

    It is usually considered unwise for a politician to enter a conversation with informed participants where the politician knows they have nothing to add. Dean didn’t give us his time and clearly indicate what he was learning from the experience here. Kucinich, by comparison is doing better in giving feedback that is topical (for *this* blog).

    Ask any 54-year-old. I wonder how much �blogging� George Bush has done�

    I don’t care how much blogging Bush has done because Bush wasn’t the one to volunteer here and then flub it (according to the responses I’m seeing in this thread).

    You missed the point of �Dean�s visit�, I think. This is the first time that I ever have corresponded directly with a Presidential candidate. When was the last time that _you_ did?

    I didn’t get the chance to do so here during Dean’s visit. Apparently others tried to and didn’t get that feedback either, a number of them have posted their disappointment with Dean’s responses in this thread.

    You give up easily. If these issues interested you, why didn�t you raise them?

    I don’t give up easily, as I have already addressed, I prioritize. Others did raise them repeatedly and they got no response from Dean.

    This statement seems clever, but sounds preconceived and is not really relevant.

    Recalling Linda Richmond’s signature digressions succinctly characterizes the jarring off-topicness and lack of conversational participation Dean exhibited on this blog. It is hardly preconceived, I was looking to learn more about Dean with regard to copyright issues, as I pointed out in a previous post.

    You are saying that the public doesn�t participate in blogs because the public doesn�t participate in blogs�

    No, I clearly did not say that.

    At the end of the week, I did not learn where Dean stands on issues relevant to discuss in this blog–issues I care about and consider when I vote.

  • Anonymous

    I listened to Govenor Dean on Talk of the Nation.It really seems like he has got a lot of good ideas.I would surely back him,except for one issue.Same sex unions.I am a Christian and a Baptist preacher.For that fact and that fact only,I will preach and write to every Christian organization that will listen to oppose him.It’s time this nation stands up for what made us a great nation and that is God and the Bible.Our Four Fathers realized it.Lets just see how important the Christian vote is.

  • J.B. Nicholson-Owens

    Dean just confirmed in the most recent Democratic party debate that if you want universal single-payer health care he’s not the candidate for you. Vote for Kucinich instead, because he’s got an actual plan on the table (HR676 which you can read about at thomas.loc.gov). On this major issue, Dean is yet another corporate-friendly Democrat who wants to keep the HMOs happy and spread the line that America can’t have what other countries (under far worse financial situations, in some cases) set up for themselves.

  • J.B. Nicholson-Owens

    In scanning the other posts in this thread, I came across Jack Kessler’s response about an earlier point of mine being “preconceived”. I think that’s a shameful and intellectually lazy way to respond to someone’s comment. It reminds me of the hasty dismissal people intend when they say “that’s a conspiracy theory”–both are attempts to shut down uncomfortable conversation that without ever saying precisely how it is disagreeable.

  • http://ganga_na.tripod.com/persephone/ Ganga Na

    al sharpton is definitely the best black candidate in the race, and that definitely goes to show how much our society has progressed since the exodus, but this is why you should vote for Bush even if you are a Democrat. if a democratic candidate wins in ’04 then Hillary Clinton cannot run in ’08 unless the democratic president that wins fails miserably in some way. i think i would much rather have a historic event that has had no precedent like a women president to happen, which is why even democrats should vote for george bush in ’04, so that hillary clinton can run and win in ’08. if there is anyone who should be the first women president in the history of the united states it should be hillary clinton. imagine all the women in this country who could vicariously live through that achievement, especially those who have had unfaithful husbands. i would bet that if george bush were to win in ’04 and knowing that hillary would probably run and win in ’08, he would have the country and the rest of the world running excellently and even spit-shined as any good cowboy would for a lady.

    -(~)