In Hindman’s The Real Lessons of Howard Dean, the author looks to explore the ways in which former presidential candidate Howard Dean was able to create such a successful campaign in 2004. Hindman is quick to highlight the fact that Dean’s campaign was innovative due to the fact that it provided a space through it’s website for supporters and other liberals to become involved in the campaign. Dean’s campaign website allowed a more open structure that wasn’t extremely concerned with managing and generating their own information or messages, and put more of the control over content generation and message construction into the hands of supporters. This evidence, which helps explain the success of the Dean campaign, mirrors aspects of several of the theories that have been discussed throughout this course. One major aspect is the fact that Dean’s campaign provided a space for users to become more personally involved in the campaign. Hindman points out that previous campaign sites featured limited interactivity and were tightly controlled. Dean’s campaign website fostered a community for supporters to create “meet-ups” and promoted small credit card donations. Like the hacker culture discussed in the early Turner reading, Dean’s supporters were highly invested, wanted to hold “meet-up” events, and wanted to share information with other supporters. The Dean campaign provided an opportunity, like the early computer movement, where any individual felt like they could directly contribute to the movement’s success. Hindman helps explain the campaign’s strategy through this statement, “The geographic reach of the campaign, the size of its volunteer corps, and its ability to recruit previously inactive citizens were all a result of Dean’s Internet strategy. In addition, Dean’s Internet Strategy was rooted in ideas promoted by Shirky like group formation, activism, and user-generated content. Was Dean’s success on the Internet a fluke? Do we see any of the tactics featured in Dean’s Internet strategy in the current campaigns?
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