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Born Again in Blogspace: the Clark Community Network

     Cameron Barrett’s rollout of the new Wesley Clark blog confirms the news that the modern presidential campaign is, at the core, a software production house.  The Clark Community Network is a fascinating and, I say, admirable piece of work  It’s a very advanced exercise in simulating Wesley Clark’s idea and ideal of communitarian democracy.  It actually implements the Dave Winer mantra that it’s not the candidates but the voters who should be blogging.  (It’s the same idea that Jeff Jarvis advocates for newspapers.  That is, don’t blog at your readers; rather turn your readers into writers by handing them the blog tool).  Everyone’s a blogger in the Clark space–everyone who chooses to be.  Of course everyone is a commentator, too–their comments community-rated up, down or off the page.  The campaign provides new tools, modeled on MeetUp, for Clark events.  It adds a tool for fomenting Petitions within the Clark campaign network, and another tool for crediting Recruiters with people they brought to the party. 

     We do seem to be approaching a new definition of a political campaign.  The Clark Community Network, Cameron Barrett says, is “a collection of knowledge.”  He presents the CCN as friendlier, more inclusive everyman’s place than the Howard Dean site.  In conversation he expands on this provocative note: “We’re not just reaching out to embrace the online world. Our strategy allows for the participation of every American — not just those who have wealth and influence. Dean started early and has the buzz but we’re doing it properly. Politics will never be the same.”  I don’t think he’s hit the literary style or musical rhythm of the Dean blog yet, but he’s assembled all the instruments and he’s serious about making them swing.

     Key points of interest in the conversation here: Cameron Barrett thinks his new CCN could enable a competitive Clark reentry in the Iowa caucuses.  He’s still miffed at the bell that Stirling Newberry tolled on behalf of the Draft Clark bloggers.  He got some help with his Scoop site from Rusty Foster of Kuro5hin, who told him, “finally, a political campaign who gets it!” He offers a tart review of the other new entry in the blog race: the John Edwards campaign page, he said, looks pretty, slow and vacant.  Cameron Barrett is an adamant open-source believer who has learned from bad experience not to let anyone with Microsoft’s Outlook mail log onto his network.  But unlike Joe Trippi of the Dean campaign, Cameron Barrett isn’t modeling his politics on open-source analogies.  Rather he’s extending what he discovered as a college teacher in 1997: that a personal blog was an ideal way to construct a community of searchers and learners.  Listen here.

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