I’ve worked on and written a lot about the Open Source movement, and how collaborative, online and open movements have transformed our politics—and our country—over the past decade. It was the Dean campaign’s restless legion of hackers, programmers, and supporters that got the ball rolling, opening up our politics in a way that has permanence beyond any election or cycle. And, before that, it was Linux and the rest of the Open Source movement that hadn’t found their impact on politics yet, but certainly understood the power and potential of online collaboration.
As I’ve said over and over, this technology-driven, bottom-up transformation has completely changed the way elections operate – from recruiting new supporters, to raising money, to pushing new ideas (and rejecting bad ones). And it changed how communities form and ordinary citizens communicate across the board — from political organizing to parenting advice.
I quote from Doc Searls article here, but I encourage everyone to go here and read the whole thing. It is a must-read, written by a man who was there from the beginning – Doc Searls.
I’ve never read a more accurate explanation of how the Linux movement and Open Source influenced and formed the foundational thinking for the political movement that, now, has helped produce Barack Obama’s Victory.
About the Dean-team:
The first time I met Joe was in a video IM session. Joe’s face was on the screen of my laptop in California, while my face was on Britt Blaser’s laptop, which he carried around the halls and meeting rooms of the Dean Campaign headquarters in Burlington, Vermont – as if he were a waiter with a talking snack tray. The tour worked so well that I was already familiar with the layout of the place when I arrived in the dead of Winter and the height of the campaign’s energy: mid-January, 2004, on the eve of the Iowa Caucuses.
Several memories of that visit stand out for me. One is of Nicco Mele minding racks of servers and other LAMP-based electronics, and grumbling about what a mess it was dealing with the various state and local party operators, each with their own patched-together tech, which usually qualified more as problems than as “solutions”. Another is of Zack Rosen, sitting on a box in the corner of a cubicle with three or four other geeks, hacking something in Drupal. Zack got involved through HackersForDean, which he did with Josh Koenig. Another is of Dave Winer, working on what he called “a really interesting RSS project to roll out in time for the Iowa caucus results on Monday night.” Posting that same day (January 17), Dave added, “I am neutral on the Democratic presidential candidates. I may have opinions, but in my technical work, they’re simply not relevant. I believe in politically agnostic tools.”
Looking back, I think what I saw was the equivalent for politics of the Tech Model Railroad Club or the Home Brew Computer Club. It was where a new and highly practical tech movement started. Britt Blaser calls it “the first campaign that functioned more like a Web service than a marketing blitz”.
The article goes on to discuss the post-Dean developments, from Blue State digital and MyBarackObama to the Sunlight Foundation and DFA. Again, give it a read and have a great Thanksgiving.