Wired New: Fur Flies at Gnomedex.
Of course there’s a Deadwood blog. :-)
Rex Hammock: “Blog mogul is an oxymoron.” Amen.
There’s been a longish email thread going back and forth after Ryan Montoya’s appearance on The Gillmor Gang, recorded on Saturday during lunch at Gnomedex. Even before the show I felt sorry for Montoya, Senator Edwards’s tech advisor. He’s a really nice guy, and I’m sure he means well. Now he’s been vetted on our mashup of The Gong Show and Captain Kangaroo. Anyway, in the thread we’re trying to pump Ryan up with ideas for how The Senator could make effective use of the Internet, mostly BS about the Senator and his wife blogging, or putting a webcam in their bedroom. I came up with something different, it’s what I would do if I were trying to premeditate an Internet phenomenon in 2008, akin to the Dean Campaign of 2003. So here’s the text of the email which I sent to Montoya and cc’d to Doc Searls, Dan Farber, Steve Gillmor, Robert Scoble and Mike Arrington.
Dear Ryan: You know what would be more useful than the family members blogging:
1. Start a program to help people in North Carolina who aren’t blogging to start blogging. (It’s just as important as voter registration.)
2. Help the elected officials in North Carolina (start with our old friend Howard Coble) learn how to read the blogs.
3. Have staff members read the blogs, looking for good ideas, and make sure they get routed to the right political leader, someone who can use the idea.
The Edwards’s aren’t experts in this stuff, and it’s wrong to set the expectation that they will or should become experts. What they are experts at, or so they say, is solving problems using the political system. So instead of waiting until they get elected again, which may never happen, get started helping right now.
Makes a pretty good stump speech too.
Hosting isn’t the problem in 2006 like it was in 2003, but lots of people still need help figuring out how to blog, and that’s something the kids would probably get a kick out of (and we are looking for ways to get 16 year olds in the loop, right, they vote in 2008).
Another angle, make it bi-partisan. Want to freak the Republicans out, help them!
Another one, don’t just do it in North Carolina, do it in the South too. They have an early primary.
Start blogging clubs like bingo, and BBQ.
I’ve been mailing with Blake Ross and his partner Joe Hewitt, and we very quickly got past the the disconnect that came up at Gnomedex on Saturday. As Blake says, there was a lot of human nature on both sides.
For my part, I am just learning now that people take me seriously. I’m not kidding about that. It’s one thing to know that you have some power, and another to see how much. When I wrote about their venture in March of last year, a lot of people assumed I knew their strategy (I didn’t, I was speculating) and gave Ross and Joe a lot of grief over it. That actually makes sense in a very bizarre way. People don’t read weblogs carefully, they skim, and before they understand what’s being said, some of them will flame you, sometimes very publicly. That’s what happened with the March 2005 post. People skimmed, didn’t think very much, assumed my speculation was fact, and let Blake have their grief.
Reading some of Blake’s earlier posts, it’s now very clear to me that he’s working for the users, and is openly critical when software developers blow the users off, so we’re on the same side on this. His slides at Gnomedex were apparently mocking people who see Firefox as part of a jihad to punish Microsoft, but the subtlety was missed by many in the audience, who were stirred up by it, and my comments, which many agreed with a few hours later, were seen in a different light by them at the time. It didn’t feel very good to be standing up against a mob, but that seems to be a place I end up, unfortunately, all too often.
I think the lesson is to not depend on readers and audiences to pick up on subtlety.
Anyway, the tale has a happy ending, imho. We’re going to work on this stuff, to help make Firefox stronger, and in the process make the users stronger, to set an example for how software can be responsive to the needs of the users.