The Austin Chronicle

Meet the Party Crashers

Welcome to the world of cyberpolitics. What took you so long?

By Mike Clark-Madison, March 5, 2004, Screens

The world of politics – the candidates, the media, the consultants and consiglieres, the pimps and ho's, and, oh yes, the citizens – is a "marketplace" like any other, where power is bought, sold, and traded. So the Internet's impact in transforming that marketplace – just like it's transformed the stock market, the publishing market, the travel market, the music market, the tchotchke market – should be no great surprise. What worked for Beanie Babies also works for Deanie Babies.

But why now? Why so quickly and massively in this political cycle? Why so predominantly on the left side of the spectrum? And why at just the point when boom-era Net visions of cybertopia had almost been completely laughed off? Maybe that last question answers itself. The current cyberpolitical explosion –, the Howard Dean campaign, the proliferation of political bloggers, and all the rest – has revitalized not only politics but also the Internet. The world has been reminded that Netizens are a large, moderately diverse, culturally committed, and socioeconomically attractive group whose needs aren't being met by traditional media. And that, boom or bust, technological change and refinement continues apace. And that – most crucially – serious discourse about serious ideas, about nothing less than the future of our nation and world, is compelling content that moves people to action.

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