Peter Daou's Power Triangle

Peter Daou’s explanaton of the power and limitations of blogs through a triangular relationship between blogs, media, and the political establishment really interests me.

In an essay published in the Daou Report, September 2005, Daou asks the question (as so many have before him): How influential are bloggers?

Daou has realized that there is no consensus surrounding the metrics that can be used to measure influence. He also knows that we do not  have a clear understanding of what exactly can be defined as ‘influence’.

According to Daou:

It might be easier to approach the question by setting a more specific, and admittedly somewhat arbitrary, definition of political influence: the capacity to alter or create conventional wisdom. And a working definition of “conventional wisdom” is a widely held belief on which most people act. Finally, by “people” I mean all Americans, regardless of ideology or political participation.’

Daou further explains that forming a triangle of blogs, media, and the political establishment is an essential step if we want to understand the power and influence that blogs can have.

Looking at the political landscape, one proposition seems unambiguous: blog power on both the right and left is a function of the relationship of the netroots to the media and the political establishment.’

‘Simply put, without the participation of the media and the political establishment, the netroots alone cannot generate the critical mass necessary to alter or create conventional wisdom’.

This is partly a factor of audience size, but it’s also a matter, frankly, of trust and legitimacy. Despite the astronomical growth of the netroots, and the slow and steady encroachment of bloggers on the hallowed turf of Washington’s opinion-makers, it is still the Russerts and Broders and Gergens and Finemans, the WSJ, WaPo and NYT editorial pages, the cable nets, Stewart and Letterman and Leno, and senior elected officials, who play a pivotal role in shaping people’s political views. That is not to say that blogs can’t be the first to draw attention to an issue, as they often do, but the half-life of an online buzz can be measured in days and weeks, and even when a story has enough netroots momentum to float around for months, it will have little effect on the wider public discourse without the other sides of the triangle in place,’ Daou writes.

The view Daou presents in the essay is a very interesting one, and it is worth reading the piece in its full length. Personally I hope we will hear more about what Daou has to say about his concept and how this affects the position he holds as a blog advisor for Hillary Clinton.