Before publishing my thesis on the blog, I emailed it to some of the people that I am quoting, giving them the opportunity to make comments about their appearance in the paper. One of the people that kindly responded to my email was Jon Henke of the QandO blog. In addition to pointing out that I spelled his name and blog incorrectly (both of which I am very, very sorry about…hope you will accept my apologies, Jon) Henke (who recently joined the highly qualified and experienced online team of presidential hopeful, Fred Thompson) kindly pointed me in the direction of a very interesting post on CampaignLeadership.com where he was interviewed by Matt Lewis about his role as Netroots Coordinator for the George Allen Senate campaign in 2006. Unfortunately I had just submitted my thesis to my University when I received the email from Henke.
It’s really a shame I didn’t see this post earlier. Had I known about it before, I would definitely have included it. Henke has a lot of interesting stuff to say in the interview: not only about his experiences doing ‘online damage control’ for Allan after his famous ‘macaca’ fuck-up, but also about the topic of online campaigning in general. In fact, I dare say that this is one of the most comprehensive analyses discussing the impact of blogs on the 2006 senate race that I have read so far (considering the fact that is just a short interview). It presents some very interesting reflections about why online campaign strategies are important to have in place from the start of the campaign and how blogs can provide crucial support to the candidates. But most importantly, it captures some of the aspects and perspectives that the academic research I have read so far failed to capture.
Now, I could go on complaining about the fact that I did not discover Henke’s piece during my research or, instead, I could start explaining why I published the thesis on the blog, why I love the idea of using a blog as a research tool, and why I am so enthusiastic about the fact that Henke provided me with the additional information that he did.
I’ll do the latter. And I’ll try to make it short!
Why publishing material in a blog?
Simply because a blog allows people to comment on the material we publish and therefore allows us to create a dynamic research process where readers can constantly criticise the material that is being produced or add new material not yet discussed. The criticism and new material can help us develop new perspectives that can help the research progress and take new directions. A dynamic process like this will most likely evolve faster and bring us to a more comprehensive and broader understanding of the topic being studied than will the slow stream of academic papers that are being produced. The field of social media is changing so rapidly that by the time an academic paper is published, it is likely several new technological inventions will have developed - developments that probably change the playing field that political communicators are operating within every now and them (YouTube, Facebook… – need I say more).
So, what I intend to do is to use the feedback I receive, like the link Henke provided me with, to constantly develop my paper and hopefully publish a new and better piece on the blog in a while (depends on the feedback we receive). I’ll start adding the links and comments that the thesis is receiving to this post.
So here’s the start of the new version:
Blog Campaigning: Extras
Link provided by Jon Henke:
George Allen's Blogger Talks: Jon Henke talks to Matt Lewis about his role as Netroots Coordinator for the George Allen Senate campaign in 2006, reflects about why online campaign strategies are important to have in place from the start of the campaign and how blogs can provide crucial support to the candidates, and discusses how we can measure the e-campaign success.
Lowell Feld about the Webb campaign's handling of the macaca incident:
Espen: […] With regard to the "macaca" incident, I don't fully agree with the assertion that the campaign sold the story to the Washington Post before it told the bloggers. At least, it wasn't that neat and clean in reality. If you go back and look at how the story first broke, on the Not Larry Sabato blog, you'll see that it leaked on August 13 (Sunday), a day before the story was published in the Washington Post. You'll also notice that there was a huge frenzy over at Not Larry Sabato. Would the Washington Post have jumped on the story if there had NOT been a blog-induced frenzy already in progress, plus a YouTube video? I don't know for sure, but my guess is that it would have been less likely and less effective…
...for more check out this link: Blog Campaigning Thesis - More Extras: Who Really broke the ‘macaca’ story
Blogs are social and cultural objects
Internet analyst Guy Cranswick argues that as the thesis mainly focuses on the US, it should explicitly say so as blogs and blogging are social and cultural objects. “It does not make sense to me to treat this topic in universal terms, it is exclusively socially specific and accordingly should be analysed thus”, Cranswick told me in a mail. I agree, and I could probably have dedicated an entire chapter to this issue – at least a long paragraph in the introduction chapter.