Wednesday, August 16, 2006

TV or .TV

Starting Friday, the Deval Patrick campaign will begin airing its first television ads, both on the air and on its new multimedia website While it is certainly not the first campaign to put multimedia content online, the new site is perhaps the cleanest one I've seen yet. It takes their lightly used audio-visual blog to the next level, and I would hope that they continue to add content to it.

I've been continually impressed with the Patrick campaign's use of the Internet over the past year or so, and their multimedia stuff is just the tip of the iceberg. On the fundraising side, they announced this week that they've raised a million dollars online and through their fundraising pages.

At first it was not clear that they were going to use the web that much, particularly after they abandoned meetup-style social networking tools early in the campaign. Instead, they made their voter file available to organizers in advance of the caucuses to make it easy to reach out to potential supporters. From there, they've continually upgraded their tools to the point where every single volunteer has enough information to act as their own campaign manager. As someone who is very interested in the intersection of the web and politics, I hope that more candidates will see the value in using the Internet not only as a way to get their message out, but also as an organizing tool. Too many candidates see their web page as nothing but a pamphlet that they put online. With a little creativity, it can go from a brochure to a virtual campaign headquarters or a full-fledged online community.

Of course, you can't do all of your organizing over the Internet. There is still a large segment of the population that does not have (or in some cases want) regular Internet access. An email is also a poor substitute for a face-to-face meeting, or even a phone call. The power of the Internet as a campaign tool is not that it lets you skip these interactions, but that it can facilitate them. That, I think, is something that more local campaigns need to start taking advantage of.