July 27, 2004

Democratic National Convention 2004

Reporters assigned to the Internet, technology, and media beats as part of convention coverage have been filing stories about the presence of accredited bloggers. The bloggers are reacting to all the media attention. There is a blogger covering the bloggers-at-the-convention story, complete with a list of those accredited and unaccredited (87 as of noon today) [www.cyberjournalist.net/news/001461.php]. And there is a smorgasboard blog: www.conventionbloggers.com.

Some brilliant turns of phrase will surely be struck in this meta-conversation, along with great insights, inspiring calls to action, and lacerating insults. Influentials may be influenced; after all, convention delegates have little else to do this week beside consume political information. But will anyone outside this hall of mirrors pay attention? Our content creation survey from earlier this year suggests skepticism. [http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2004/Content-Creation-Online.aspx] Only 11% of Net users have visited blogs, and many of those are diaries of friends, not public affairs soapboxes.

Meanwhile, “This Land,” [http://www.jibjab.com] a Simpsons-style recap of the partisan crossfire to date set to the Woody Guthrie classic, went viral last week, topping ten million viewings by this morning. After its creators appear on NBC’s “Tonight Show With Jay Leno” this evening, it may become the most-viewed Web video of all time.

The lesson: for all that the Internet has done to abet those who only want to preach to the converted, or be a part of a partisan choir, the new medium also rewards those who sling pebbles at both houses and offer reassurance to people who want to believe that, in the end, this is still one country. I may be a Democratic liberal who reads http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com, while you’re a Republican who reads http://www.instapundit.com. “This Land” was made for you and me.