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Yahoo! Rise of the Citizen 2.0
Posted by: Jon Henke on Friday, November 09, 2007

I attended the Yahoo! Rise of the Citizen 2.0 event being described in various places around the 'net. Jesse Thomas, with whom I attended the conference, has a number of good pictures. I thought it was a very interesting event, but there are a few misperceptions I think should be addressed:

(1) Think Progress:
Rove Decries ‘Nutty’ ‘Vitriolic’ Bloggers Who Spew ‘Bad Words’
Yes, Karl Rove did criticize the Leftosphere for being viscerally emotional and profane. But so did Max Cleland. At techPresident, Michael Bassik describes Cleland's speech:
"Cleland equated the internet to "Viagra for political junkies" where you can find everything from "fishing to fornication." "It's Dodge City without the Sherriff." Cleland also lamented the abundance of vulgar words on blogs and expressed shock when a friend shared with him my favorite YouTube video. The blogosphere, he said, is "out of control" and "ain't gonna win undecided voters" even though it may be responsible for increases in youth voter turnout. "The good news is that [the internet] is total free expression and the bad that it's total free expression."
Why was Rove criticized for that, but not Cleland? An oversight, no doubt.

Both sides have a bit of a point on this.

  • Rove and Cleland are right: angry, profane rhetoric will turn off a lot of the undecideds, persuadables, low information voters and marginally attached political participants. On the other hand...what's the big deal? Is "Science Works" any less correct, if I say it like this?

  • The Leftosphere is correct when they say that the arguments should be taken on their merits, not judged by the Victorian rectitude of their rhetoric. Indeed, profanity can be a valuable rhetorical device. Sometimes.

However, I'm a bit disappointed that the profanity was the element both Rove and Cleland thought worth discussing, because it means they've missed the much more important things going on around that. There is no shortage of important policy work, political debate, research and community-building storytelling happening online, and those are the needle-moving important elements that need to be recognized, understood and engaged by political practitioners.

(2) Daniel Glover:
The curmudgeon within apparently got the better of Rove yesterday when he spoke at Yahoo's "Rise Of Citizen 2.0" event.
I don't think "curmudgeon" describes the person I saw yesterday. Karl Rove was friendly, jovial, funny and interesting. He had some criticisms, sure, but they were predominantly the kind of criticisms that bloggers tend to share - e.g., that there is a lot of misinformation online, that people often write things without really understanding what they're writing about, and that, as Michael Bassik puts it, the "internet lacks proportion" and big sites can built mountains out of molehills. Those are not uncommon criticisms - indeed, they are criticisms often made by the Leftosphere itself.

(3) techPresident:
Key takeaway: While the online political consultants in the room all "get it," those we're trying hardest to convince — the traditional strategists (Rove) and politicians (Cleland) — have a long way to go.
I think this is correct in a lot of ways, but I think it's a valuable lesson for us, too. We New Media/Internet/eCampaign people may "get it", but we weren't there to get an education about the field we know and care about. We were there to get an education about what the political implementers know and care about. Those are not necessarily the same. (about which, I have a great deal more to say, but perhaps another time...or more discreetly)

In our differences of priority and knowledge, there are valuable lessons for everybody involved.
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Previous Comments to this Post 

I think one point has been missed. I read the blogs to get information and viewpoints I can’t get anywhere else. I know that some of the info may be incorrect so I check other sources.
God bless the blogs.
Written By: Rick
URL: http://
I agree with you points

However, Jon, you said some reasonable things about Karl Rove. The sinisphere is definitely NOT going to like that.
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://

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