Zack Rosen building systems for online religious devotion

I am flippantly describing the plan by the author of DeanSpace, the software tool that allowed Dean supporters to avoid talking to anyone but themselves. He wants to institutionalize this behavior for a “progressive movement” that, thanks to people like Zack and Michael Moore, has its head so far up its ass that it already resembles a Klein bottle.

Rather than testing their ideas in the market, these foks get together and reassure themselves that they are obviously right. It is emotionally incredibly reaffirming and works well for a Democratic party that markets itself to a population of urban voters that moved to cities because they were unable to cope with justifying their choices in smaller towns where they were more visible and where their behavior was more unique, to “intellectuals” who were losers in high school, and to racial/ethnic minorities in search of critical mass and social support.

Having done so, the Democrats then exhbited the pathologies identified by Clay Shirky in “A Group is Its Own Worst Enemy,” villifying those not in the group as well as (and especially) those seeking to leave the group via greater participation in civic society (e.g. higher taxes on the “rich” with a low threshold for qualifying as “rich”, opposition to school choice, affirmative action, etc…) . The result is a classic Clayton Christiansen style pursuit of purity/quality at the expense of market. The dominance of the liberal media provides some protection for the right from falling into this trap. But projects like DeanSpace/CivicSpace make it worse.

If the Democrats really want to win elections, they need to get out of their pure virtual worlds (see prior post) and engage the real world. Rather than setting up systems to help them talk amongst themselves, Zach should be providing them with more effective systems for arguing with Republicans. Alternative/New media like talk radio and the blogs were built on attacking the liberal mainstream media. The Republicans there practiced dealing with and countering Democratic claims and arguments and distributing those memes quickly. The Democrats in contrast simply denigrated these disreputable non-institutional sources and became shockingly ignorant of and facts and arguments that would put their views into question when presented to an open minded potential voter.

JustOneMinute proposed a survey to test the ignorance of Democrats on substantial issues. I’l excerpt here

suppose we designed a survey loaded with “democratic myths”. My (untested) hunch is that the reality-based community would do pretty badly. […]

(1) Bush lied in his 2003 State of the Union Address when he said that “the British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of uranium from Africa”.

(2) Ambassador Joseph Wilson exposed Bush’s lie about Niger.

(3) We went to war with Iraq because George Bush said that Iraq posed an imminent threat to the US.

(4) It was George Bush who authorized the departure of the Bin Laden family from the US after 9/11.

(5) George Bush plans to re-instate the draft after his election.
[…]
(11) George Bush refused to authorize the release of his Texas Air National Guard records.

(12) John Kerry released all of his military records, with the exception of some items related to his personal medical history.

(13) All of the charges made by the Swift Boat Veterans were shown to be false.

[…]
I would expect an obvious left-right divide amongst respondents. And for most of these, the obvious lefty answer is wrong

I doubt that Zack’s system would fix these sorts of problems. Today I got a link to this “funny” CraigsList post:

Reply to: anon-47785163@craigslist.org
Date: Wed Nov 03 19:11:50 2004

I would like to fight a Bush supporter to vent my anger. If you are one, have a fiery streek, please contact me so we can meet and physically fight. I would like to beat the shit out of you.

As a Republican who lives at the core of blue state society and in the context of all the violence directed at Republican campaign offices both before and after the election, I don’t find it so funny. I find it scary.

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2 Responses to Zack Rosen building systems for online religious devotion

  1. Ian says:

    Ironically I found your post on CivicSpace’s page.

    Anyways, DeanSpace/CivicSpace is a tool to let people organize and do things in the real world. It has blog features allowing folks to discuss issues with each other, but it has tools to do more then that. Basically the idea is that some Progressive Group of Springfield will have a turnkey solution to do their online organizing.

    As far as the left being uninformed, check out:
    http://www.pipa.org/OnlineReports/Pres_Election_04/html/new_10_21_04.html

  2. Ian says:

    “Zach should be providing them with more effective systems for arguing with Republicans” I forgot to contest this point. I guess I don’t disagree with the basic contention that liberals need to get out more. Obviously at this point we’re rethinking how we present our case. But your view of the world is surprisingly in line with the ‘liberal’ media – that each issue has two sides and the best way to sort them out is let each side have its say instead of searching for the larger truth. John Stewart did a great job pointing this out on Crossfire, where he told them to please stop since such shows really are hurting America.

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