In the chapter of his book entitled The Open Source Campaign, Trippi discusses the 2004 Howard Dean campaign and cites it as a major landmark in the use of the Internet in campaigning. Trippi describes the strong online presence of the campaign and the different digital resources used to raise money and foster support for Howard Dean. Trippi describes how pairing Meetup.com with the GetLocal software helped Dean supporters find each other and meet more effectively. After, the campaign developed DeanLink which really got the users more involved and amde them feel as though they had a personal stake in the campaign. Blog for America also played a key role in spreading information and opinions among constituents, revealing campaign and strategical weaknesses, surveying voter attitudes, and contesting opposition. From this we can see that the Dean campaign utilized archaic forms of social media and discussion forums to raise voter awareness and collect a significant amount of money to help the Dean candidacy. Here I see parallels to Rheingold’s ideas about new forms of communication creating new ways to solve collective action dilemmas and help create change. If the Dean campaign had improved and innovative communication that could help solve dilemmas in organizing people like collecting donations and spreading ideas, why was he unable to perform well once elections came around?
I submit that the Internet presence of Dean was unsuccessful in producing results because it only reinforced Dean supporters who had the strong desire to find more information about the campaign and did little to sway voters who were undecided. Meetup.com, GetLocal, and DeanLink helped Dean supporters to talk to other people with similar views, but aside from the occasional trolls with opposing views, there was little done to attract new people to the campaign. Technological limitations and a lack of understanding of the strategic benefits of the medium are reasons I see for why the campaign wasn’t successful. Because the supporters did not use the medium to solve the real dilemma of the election, getting a large number of supporters to actively campaign for and vote for Dean, the campaign failed and Dean lost.
My question to the class is: If you were a campaign manager today, how would you use the Internet and Social Media to persuade undecided voters to vote for your candidate?