Joi Ito's Web

Joi Ito's conversation with the living web.

Tim Oren cites a poll by the Washington Post showing that the Internet has not helped Dean close the popularity gap with Bush. He says:

But those who think the removal of big media means the newly empowered wil start singing 'Kumbaya' and turn into anti-Bush, anti-war 'emergent democracy' citizens are indulging in wishful thinking, and we now have evidence to that effect. (Yes, I'm looking at you, Joi.) These newly empowered participants actually have to be persuaded. And that's a very good thing, too.
I agree. There is still a lot we need to do. I think we have to look at our successes and try to repeat them and amplify them. We have to acknowledge our failures and try not to repeat them. I never said this was going to be easy. Also, "emergence" sounds a bit lazy, as if it will "just happen." I never asserted this. Emergence is much harder. It is about creating technical and social systems that allow emergence and these can not be designed literally like most hierarchical system, but require active feedback, architectural tweaking and lots and lots of iterations before emergence really happens. I'm excited by the progress and not surprised that we haven't hit mainstream yet.

I would also like to add that I think big media still has a huge role and figuring out the role of blogs in the context of big media is one of the things that I am actively thinking about right now.


Dean has revolutionized the political process. Using the Internet he has found a new way to obtain donations from individuals. He already has the attention of those who donated, who are also primary voters. Additionally, he has excited people about the political process.

The second act of this play is the general election. The general election is always a different animal from the primary, but I disagree with Tim. It's too early to tell what the Internet will do for Dean's campaign against Bush. No one would have predicted that it would do this much for the primary process and I think we may be surprised about its impact on the general election

P.S. I am not a Dean supporter.

I too am waiting to be convinced that Howard Dean is truly qualified to be the next leader of the free world. However, what we can say is that he would definitely not be in the race now if it hadn't been for the support (particularly financial) that he's gotten on the Internet.

The stuff about Internet users being bush supporters has more to do with demographics (the type of people who are online) than anything else. It doesn't have to do with the efficacy or otherwise of anyone's campaign.

It's silly to compare the support of an incumbent republican president with the support of a no-hoper outsider democrat like Howard Dean.

What you have to understand to interpret US polls is that the majority of votes are already spoken for. People mostly stick by their party allegiances. The outcome is ultimately determined by a small group of undecided voters and the level of the turnout.