Howard Dean’s campaign for presidency was doomed right when his staff
decided to use the Internet. His campaign used statistics and numbers that were often skewed or misrepresented, which happens a lot in politics. However, his camp began to believe the numbers they were throwing out to the public. This led to an inflated conception of having a large lead and, in the end, this failure to understand reality instead of cyberspace led to Dean’s defeat.
Shirkey puts forth the argument that although the use of the Internet
brought people together quicker and more cost-effectively, it did not
necessarily garner more support. Sure, people could communicate and
congregate in support of Dean for cheaper, but that didn’t mean more
votes. He warns us that we must not confuse this new speed and efficiency with actual support and he says that the only difference about using the Internet is that the support can more freely be disseminated. What Shirkey is warning against is a lot like what Rheingold advocates. Rheingold supports the Internet as a forum and tool for meeting and discussing ideas and he says that it is a critical element in understanding our own beliefs. However, what he fails to identify is something that Shirkey points out in the Dean campaign: as much as the Internet can be helpful, it isn’t necessarily reality. Do you think that the Internet is a clear representation of reality, especially in politics? Or do you think it is often distorted?