Law in the Internet Society
Please do not read, nor correct, this is merely a draft in a very early stage

The “McCain Moment” defeated by the “Obama Revolution”.

“It was a peer to peer, bottom-up, open-source kind of ethos that infused this campaign, there was a vision to this” (Ralph Benko, cited in Lai Stirland, 2008).

As the United States celebrate the election of their first African-American president, this study aims at analyzing the many assertions that have been made about Barack Obama being the first President elected by the Internet. President Barack Obama is also the first first-term senator ever to be elected into office, so it is particularly remarkable how it was possible that a senator almost unknown to the large public just 2 years ago was capable to win 52% of the nation’s popular vote, but to win close to 70% of the electoral votes. In the Digital Tea Leaves article (Lewicki et al., 2000)

As one commentator said, Obama’s campaign, compared to the Clinton campaign of 1992, was like a multinational corporation versus a non-profit organization (cited in Lai Stirland, 2008).

This articles aims at showing how the Web made allows democracy to reach new levels and massively supporting efforts to reach a more direct democracy, as

In the 2008 election process, both candidates heavily relied on numerous features of the digital world to run their campaigns, and the online success of Obamas campaign proved to be the key to his winning the presidency (Lai Stirland, 2008). Too grasp the magnitude of Obama’s Net campaign, a look at the numbers is very revealing: - $600 million in contributions from more than three million people - 1 million phonecalls on election day to get out to vote - 150’000 Campaign related events - 293 millions spent on TV ads

The most interesting feature about this “Web” campaign was probably that it made perfect use of the philosophy behind it, and proving the superiority of principles that characterize the digital millennium. This was mainly achieved by a commitment to online organizing that led to the hiring of Joe Rospars and Chris Hughes .

To describe these principles, two stolen from Prof. Moglen classes, and one principle poorly named by the author of this paper, lets

- Never pay for anything you can get for free

The campaigns Web success is massively linked to its ability to get different people (especially those not necessarily interested in the political process) to massively invest their time and money into the campaign. The efficient use of these resources was then achieved by maximizing group collaboration and coordinating individual actions (Lai Stirland, 2008). Every possible platform was then used to further the reach of the message and enroll further volunteers into the campaign.

Early in his campaign, Mr. Obama already clearly stated that real changes comes from the bottom-up (Stelter, 2008), and the key to capitalizing that change was to organize and structure it through the internet. Mr Hughes applied the winning strategy of facebook (“keep it real, keep it local”) to maximize their effect on real life connections and their possible effect on persuading people to join their cause.

- Push beat Pull. One main aspect of every campaign is to perfectly achieve the coordination between the elaboration of a message and its transmission to a maximum amount of people. This campaign nailed that principle, by favoring the creativity and enthusiasm of his supporters, having as well international stars as nobodies manifesting their commitment with numerous creations, from internet sites, applications, songs, movies, etc. This content then circulated all over the Web, without any further action need by the centralized campaign, being pushed all around the Web. So the push beats pull doctrine might be a little over-stretched by the pushing being done by every terminal, and not by centralized service anymore.

- Appeal to the need for expression and self-commitment of people But the campaign was perfectly run, and did not forget that substance should not suffer from the form, or in other words, that the campaign is primarily about ideas and only in second place about the transmission of these ideas, and ideals. The two preceding principles would have been useless without the perfect elaboration of a message that would transcend all barriers and appeal to the individuals need for self-commitment to a cause. With simple, yet powerful messages, and this is in my opinion the best feature of this campaign, it was possible to incite citizens to want to join this cause. An analogy can be made with the success of the internet over television. Internet suddenly made it possible for every single terminal to not only consume content bus to create it. This campaign was the first one where citizens not only consumed the message from the candidates through basic mediums like radio and television, but also were able to pass it along and illustrate it in a creative way like never before. Suddenly, there was no need for an enormous central campaign bureau like before, and the close team around the candidate had more available resources to invest in substantive efforts, to perfect the message, and not worry so much anymore about the transmission to potential voters.


One final remark is the surprise the reader might have when reading the positions of Vice-President Biden that are summarized in this article.

Lai Stirland, Propelled by Internet, Barack Obama Wins Presidency, Nov. 4th, 2008. Brian Stelter, The Facebooker Who Friended Obama, July 7th, 2008. Don Lewicki and Tim Ziaukas, The Digital Tea Leaves of Election 2000: The Internet and the Future of Presidential Politics, Dec.

About last thursday's discussion.

-- MarcelEggler - 03 Nov 2008



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r3 - 06 Nov 2008 - 21:19:23 - MarcelEggler
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