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October 04, 2003

BACK ONLINE, now using the wireless network in the hotel bar, which seems to be working fine. Bloggercon was extensively blogged elsewhere:

Dan Bricklin has pictures, one of which shows me frowning at the laptop.

Betsy Devine has notes -- just start scrolling up.

Jeff Jarvis has quite a few pungent observations, of course.

And Dan Gillmor has pictures, and links to other people's blogging.

Here are a few observations. First, on my journalism panel Ed Cone seemed especially anxious to hear what I think should be done on the Plame affair. My suggestion that the journalists should be subpoenaed was received rather coolly by the journalists, though my suggestion that anyone found to have illegally leaked should be fired, even if it was Dick Cheney, was better received. (Yes, I know -- the Vice President can't actually be "fired," but he could be dropped from the '04 ticket at the very least. Not that I really think that Cheney had anything to do with whatever happened, but quite a few people at the conference, noticeably more hostile to the Bush Administration, felt otherwise.)

My favorite panel was the final one, featuring representatives from the DNC and from the Graham, Dean, and Clark blogging campaigns. It was: Mathew Gross (Dean), Joe Jones (Graham), Eric Folley (Democratic National Committee), Cameron Barrett (Clark). A few points:

1. The Democratic candidates are kicking the ass of the Republicans in terms of Presidential campaign blogging, and use of the Internet generally. Dean especially. The Dean people have figured out that you can get power on the Internet by giving up control. The Bush people -- partly because they're incumbents, partly by philosophy -- are still very big on control. So, in varying degrees, are the other Democratic candidates, and I heard quite a few stories of Edwards turning away offers of help from the likes of Oliver Willis. Foolish.

2. There was a fair amount of criticism of the Democratic Presidential blogs for being "inauthentic," because the candidates aren't the ones doing the blogging. Matthew Gross said that it's impossible for a Presidential candidate to get elected while blogging in an "authentic" fashion. I think that's true. I also think it's too bad. We elect candidates out of a sense of what they're made of. A blog gives you a better sense of the person than any conventional communication, especially TV spots. One suspects, though, that candidates like it that way.

3. In this cycle, and (perhaps) the next one, blogs will have more relevance in the run-up to the primary than in the general elections. Blogs aren't tools of mass persuasion, and won't be at least until there's a "mass." And maybe not even then. But they're great at building buzz, and mobilizing interested people. That's more relevant in the early stages than the late ones.

I'm sorry I'll miss the rest of the conference -- I have to go home tomorrow. It was excellent, except for the technical glitches.

UPDATE: Scott Rosenberg has more thoughts on the candidate-blog discussion.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Oliver Wills calls for perspective. And here's more from Kaye Trammell. And still more from Dave Weinberger.