I started hanging out at FDL around 2006 after being on a Democratic BBoard for years. That makes me a late-comer to the political blogosphere. I joined Facebook when you couldn’t get on to it with anything but an academic email. My two first friends were my daughters who I stalked as the concerned mother of two teenage girls. Shortly after that, FDL folks got into Social Media and my buddy list filled up. I still have many connections there but the 2008 vibe from the site and its management still leave a taste in my mouth even though many of my friends still participate there. It’s a different world from 2004 and 2008 and perhaps it was only a matter of time before some one explored that.
TDB has an article up that features Susie Madrak and Peter Daou that you should read. It’s an interesting view back in to Netroots Bloggers ten years ago. I know BB came via the DKOS route. I joined (2004) before I joined the FDL community but really didn’t do much there. I found the diaries sort’ve trite displays of personal ego and preferred the structure of hourly new threads by folks who participated in their discussion. Many of us remember the pre-, post, and 2008 atmosphere of the leftie political blogs when we wound up being homeless . The leftie bloggers took sides–vehemently–in the primary. The safe places became fewer and fewer. Those same places are now dead end blogs. I apply this term generouslysince many of them are really right wing r*f*ing sites now that make you wonder if any of them were actual real democrats at any point in there live or supported women’s issues or anything the Clintons supported. Frankly, it’s the overt racism that gets me now more than anything as they seem to be more aligned with Pam Geller and Phyliss Schafly than Hillary Clinton.
The basic picture of Netroots–ten years after–is an affiliation in decline according to the TDB article.
Part of the Netroots decline had to do with the inevitable maturing of the movement and the simple evolution of the Internet. Ten years ago the blogs were one of the few places on the Internet where it was possible to find out what was happening in real time, as even many establishment news organizations hadn’t figured out how to move their offline print and broadcast products to the Web.
That has long since been sorted out, and in the meantime, dozens of online-only news outlets have been likewise competing for clicks and crowding out some of the proud amateurs. The political conversation, like the rest of the online conversation, has moved to Facebook and Twitter, and the bloggers steeped in an earlier Internet culture have not been able to keep up.
“Some bloggers have learned how to play well with a very dynamic Facebook community, with a very dynamic Twitter community, but a lot just don’t have the mental bandwidth,” said Henry Copeland, CEO of Blogads, which sells advertising on the Internet. “You need a density of folks who are excited about doing it. All of this stuff requires a community, and as a blogger you want to be responding to other bloggers and be in the thick of it, and the thick of things has just moved in another direction.”
The typing hordes have moved in another direction too. The pace of blogging was always punishing and nearly impossible for those who did it to keep another job. But being marginally employed loses its charm after a while, even if you are able to elect the Congress of your dreams.
“The blogosphere that we knew of in 2004 and 2008 is not what it was,” says Raven Brooks, executive director a Netroots Nation, an IRL annual meet-up. “It is still a tight community; it is just older, more established. The economy isn’t what it was then. A lot were students, and they have graduated and gone looking for jobs.”
The back half of the article is dedicated to a where are they now kind’ve narrative. Many of the original bloggers have been mainstreamed into other places and a lot of been consolidated into bigger blogs. The article argues that the blogosphere and netroots is no longer a force for Democrats.
But with another critical election two weeks away, politicians, political operatives, and even the bloggers themselves say the Netroots are a whisper of what they were only four years ago, a dial-up modem in a high-speed world, and that the brigade of laptop-wielding revolutionaries who stormed the convention castle four years ago have all but disappeared as a force within the Democratic Party.
I wonder if they would reach the same conclusion about all the right wing blogs? It seems to me that they are taken much more seriously even by the traditional press. Afterall, Susie or Peter have not been hired by CNN to talk about elections but useless pieces of flesh and oxygen like Erick Erickson are hired as ‘consultants’. I’ve never heard a serious word or thought coming from his mouth once.
So, I’m sure that the GOTV ground game this time in key states is much more important to the Democratic candidates this year than positive action from bloggers. How many of you have actually visited ACT Blue this year? Still, there are a few candidates–Elizabeth Warren and Tammy Duckworth come to mind–that are still getting the benefit of the lose affiliation and affinity that happens on line between liberal activists and liberal bloggers. Where it will go in the future is any one’s guess at this point. I just know that I feel much more connected to democracy by participating. I also know that it’s one of the few places you can still go to get good conversations on extremely important things ignored by the MSM like drones, kill lists, and income inequality. So, call me a lifer.