Week 8 – Dean Campaign

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?

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3 Responses to Week 8 – Dean Campaign

  1. I believe that the Internet is not a clear representation of reality and it is problematic when politics are discussed over social media sites. Many times people think that by reading about political stories and participating in campaigns over the internet make them well-informed and engaged. However news providers and other people that post political stories often twist or shorten versions of news to make them more entertaining. This leads many to believe they are truly knowledgeable of what is taking place. However, I believe the internet only contributes to an overview or a superficial understanding of politics and reality.

  2. Tyler Parent says:

    The Internet undoubtedly is not a direct or clear representation of reality. This question led me to think about Pariser’s argument for the filter bubble concept. The Internet in no way is a representation of reality, and this becomes glaringly evident when what we are being exposed to on the Internet is being filtered to match our interests. As for the Dean campaign much of what seems to be the focus of its strategy was rooted in tactical measurements, and the fact that there was a strong internet presence didn’t directly lead to campaign success.

  3. alexlcraig says:

    I think the Internet is not a clear representation of reality. In the case of the Dean Campaign it’s important to note that while his online numbers seemed impressive, that does not mean those numbers would have transcended into votes. The clip we watched about the Dean Campaign highlighted a few ‘over the top’ supporters who idolized Dean, one of which was a 14-year old girl. While the lowered ‘cost’ of reaching people by Internet may have seemed like a good idea for the Dean campaign, there is no control over who is receiving the message. In this case, it was a young group of people, many of whom may have been able to vote, but in some cases, like the 14-year old supporter, online activity would not have resulted in a vote because users were simply too young.

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