Are blogs now hurting Howard Dean’s chances?

Dean did poorly because not enough people voted for him, and the usual explanations — potential voters changed their minds because of his character or whatever — seem inadequate to explain the Iowa results. What I wonder is whether Dean has accidentally created a movement (where what counts is believing) instead of a campaign (where what counts is voting.)…

…participation in online communities often provides a sense of satisfaction that actually dampens a willingness to interact with the real world. When you’re communing with like-minded souls, you feel like you’re accomplishing something by arguing out the smallest details of your perfect future world, while the imperfect and actual world takes no notice, as is its custom.

There are many reasons for this, but the main one seems to be that the pleasures of life online are precisely the way they provide a respite from the vagaries of the real world. Both the way the online environment flattens interaction and the way everything gets arranged for the convenience of the user makes the threshold between talking about changing the world and changing the world even steeper than usual.

The bottom line:

“Would you vote for Howard Dean?” and “Will you vote for Howard Dean?” are two different questions…

Not to mention “Did you vote for Howard Dean?”

The quotations are from Clay Shirky, here is the permalink. Shirky concludes: “Voting, the heart of the matter, is both dull and depressing.”


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