Had to comment on this before I hit hay. Jill’s post about her meeting with Chris Redfern got some reaction from a couple of prominent lefty bloggers (OH02 and BSB). Like others have pointed out, Jill’s stuff is always well written and entertaining. There is more there than Redfern’s dismissal but we bloggers like to focus first on getting slapped in the face with the white glove of establishmentality:

If he were in a position akin to that of a media placement advisor for a corporation, but doing so for a politician, what percentage of a budget did he think blogs would get?

Zero. Unequivocally.

BSB has the best rundown of why this is serious hogwash and extremely disturbing given this man was just elected to strategize for us all.

Chris might have a point that the relative size of bloggers and blog readers is very small compared to the general Ohio population. The point he completely misses is the growth curve. He thinks the story might be different in 4, 6, or 8 years. I love the large room for error there…but they are all very largely overshot. It won’t be that long. Growth online happens very quickly.

So Chris, my man. Hope you see this. Here’s the thing. Be Toyota on this one and not GM. Don’t wait for the damned bell curve to pass you by…get out in front of it. It is, believe it or not, what is expected of you. See it coming and react – because it is coming.

Blogs are social networks and they connect. New blogs equal new nodes. New nodes foster more people involved in the political process. Grassroots, baby! You did say the following in your survey responses when you ran for chair:

reaching out to new and diverse constituencies and building a strong party infrastructure with an emphasis on technology.

How the hell can you advocate effectively ignoring blogs, but believe in “reaching out” and putting “an emphasis on technology”? I know you didn’t spend much time on the survey as it was mostly blither blather, but still.

Here’s the deal. Blogs will one day be where the news is had. It will eventually be a complete reversal from what we see now in most blogs: get story from old school media, comment. The next wave will be (and there are already examples of this): old school gets news from new school and reports in old school way.

Case in point: Hackett comes to Delaware. I go to the event with my laptop and blog about it live. How the hell can the old school model keep up with this? No can do. Top down command and control is too costly. I take photos, record audio, and post all of this within a few hours. The question I have is why wouldn’t you want to leverage that? Zero resources? I’m worried about that one.

We blogs practice asymmetrical media…distributed nodes that connect, disconnect, then reconnect in sometimes unpredictable ways. Read up on asymmetrical warfare. The War College is. I predict that either traditional media will figure out a way to leverage blogs, or they will be forced to follow blogs and will no longer be the news makers, but the news relayers. My advice to Chris would be to give up a little control to get a LOT of return. Get to know your bloggers…ask them to come and cover stuff…then reward them in some way (insider info…first to know PR…hell, T shirts). You’ll get back ten times what you give.

But unequivocally zero? Come on man!

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  • Eric – Thanks for this analysis of Redfern. It’s very funny in the ironic sense because just before I logged on this morning, I thought to myself, you know, folks need to remember – I may be a very keen observer, smart person and good writer, but I am still not a bona fide political hack or wonk in Ohio. I have not been following Ohio politics for the length of time or in the depth that many other bloggers who are interested in this stuff and write about this stuff have.

    I don’t ever mean to present myself as knowing. But I am trying to get engaged and ask questions and get answers, because, given the small pool of voters who can be described as engaged (and into which I think I do fall), there are even fewer knowledgeable Ohio political wonks. It’s a very small universe, compared to the general electorate.

    That said, I still believe that Redfern put forth an opinion about the influence and value and “go to” element of blogs in a way that parallels the treatment MSM gives blogs, in general, though less and less so: they are anxious about the uncertainty that blogs represent, in content and in influence.

    I feel quite confident about that perception.

  • Eric

    I think I’m in the same category as you. My stuff focuses more on politics because that is what has been motivating me and why I started this blog.

    My main point I guess is that Chris should have a very different perception about blogs than the MSM. They are a bit freaked about the competition and loss of clout. Chris should not display this same reticence. His take should be just as your question posed: “What part should blogs play in our overall strategy to engage voters”.

    That is my disappointment. Not to mention the fact that he should be getting out in front and not waiting with cautiously optimistic anxiousness.

    It’s a poor and dangerous perception in my opinion – missed opportunity in a big way.

  • Agree completely, Eric. But I’m a geek – I think it’s an amazing and unique opportunity to get inside people’s heads, though separating the wheat from the chaff (chafe?) isn’t easy (too lazy this morning to go to yourdictionary.com).

    Could also be that that’s the image they want to present, in the hope that bloggers will quiet down or cease and desist. Although if I don’t think you could find a more unlikely group of thinkers who could be influenced to cease and desist just because someone implies that they don’t matter, than bloggers.

  • Eric

    Well yes, in fact, it is the exact opposite! Look at Sherrod’s early attempts at neutralizing Hackett’s natural blogosphere advantage. His dismissive attitude about blogs got him a ton of bad …hmmm can’t say “press”…”blog” tons of bad blog. Yes he did start Grow Ohio – now labeled Groan Ohio by those who can read between the lines – and talks about being a supporter of blogs, but never quite got how to handle blog heat.

    So implying we don’t matter only bolsters the movement in my mind. Stirs up the bees nest in a way. Maybe even adds a node here or there. The right way to react is the way Fingerhut’s folks have as well as Joe Sulzer’s people. They get it.

    If I were Redfern I’d have a full-time netroots person who coordinates with other party strategy and message people in other media in order to fully leverage this “free” resource. Yes, we are free much as getting the paper to write about your stuff is free…but someone has to coordinate that. Zero resources just doesn’t get it for me.

    This disconnect between candidates and party in terms of online strategy is problematic and I hope we hear from Chris on this again soon.

  • Okay, so, to be fair to Chris Redfern (while still acknowledging that it was a 45 minute conversation and I didn’t report every single word), the final thing he said to me, once and maybe even twice I think, was, Please let me know: How can we do a better job with blogs?

    Why at the end? Why at all? Is it sincere? Is it disingenuous? Well, now the MTB next month with him in Columbus has a conversation to continue or follow-up (or ignore if they choose, I wouldn’t take that personally).

    And last, the best way to test the sincerity of this invitation to give advice to the ODP about blogs: LET’S DO IT. And THEN see what happens. If nothing happens at all, out of x number of suggestions, well…

    That, at least, is always my approach: take someone at face value, follow/accept the invitation and then see what comes of it. You’ll never know until you try.

  • Eric

    I’m down with that. I was actually just thinking this morning how I could take and run with this positively. I’ve got some ideas that I will put out there soon. I like this approach. We can get all stirred up and such, but if we aren’t willing to affect the change we want, then why do it?

    Good advice…let’s do run with it.

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