January 30, 2008

John Edwards Ending Presidential Campaign and Blog Evangelism Is Quackery

I usually don't comment on politics, but "John Edwards to Quit Presidential Race" is an opportunity to note something I've often said, where the "Web 2.0" sales-pitch uses the same mechanism as quack medicine. The Net marketing hucksters hype up the people who have taken their snake-oil and do well, but don't mention (or worse, blame) the people who drink the Kool-Aid and DON'T do well. The John Edwards campaign had the bubble-blowers, genuflected to bloggers and big Liberal political blogs, had blog A-listers on board for advice ... and none of it worked. If his campaign had caught fire, we'd be hearing from that crew again about the wonderful Internet, buy their magic, etc.

Now, the A-listers involved might say they never promised success in every case, under all circumstances. But that would be missing my point. Some of the more clever peddlers of quack medicine don't promise cures in all circumstances either - they just show testimonials of the sick who coincidentally happened to get better, and ignore those who died horrible deaths (which were sometimes worsened by the quackery). They're not interested in any objective evaluations of how well their stuff works, they want to sell it to you.

Yeah, I know, old news. Shouting to the wind again, bad habit :-( ...

By Seth Finkelstein | posted in cyberblather , politics | on January 30, 2008 05:59 PM (Infothought permalink)
Seth Finkelstein's Infothought blog (Wikipedia, Google, censorware, and an inside view of net-politics) - Syndicate site (subscribe, RSS)

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I guess I get the point of this post. For sure those who back winners trumpet their associations with same. Dave Winer has been the Obama bandwagon for a little while, and if Obama wins some of that success will rub off on Dave. But just because some of the more visible bloggers (like David Weinberger) back losers (like that MD from New Hampshire or Vermont or wherever, and now the lawyer with the haircut), doesn't mean the snake oil doesn't work. The data we should be looking at is campaign contributions via web based fund raising efforts. Has it been going up? I'll bet it has, and while the social networking, word of mouth, viral memetics bullshit remains no more effective than newspaper editorials (and in fact probably less), that fund raising function is steadily improving. I think. I wonder where we'd find the data?

Posted by: Frank Paynter at January 31, 2008 12:00 PM

Ah, but the proposition roughly "Lots of money can be raised over the Internet" is very different from people-powered The Revolution you-yes-you It's A New Era blah blah blah. And if the supposed gurus ended up with the weakest performing major candidate, that puts a very low limit on their power.

Posted by: Seth Finkelstein at February 1, 2008 03:32 AM