Why does this matter? The Net has enormously accelerated the conversation that the aggregated campaigns have joined. A range of collaboration software, from sales force automation to wikis to the nascent social software tools, has compressed the electorate into rapidly forming affinity groups. Once in place, these groups become a dynamic type of focus group, with the enhanced ability to create, test-market, refine and deploy strategic muscle at lightning speed.
Its difficult to catch this change at the surface level—where network and even cable news operations can only sound-bite the dynamics. But the RSS space—as a synthesis of both a filtered mainstream media and the bottom-up drivers of the blogosphere—is the quickest way to take the pulse, and affect (or reinfect) the process in return.
You can see the change in the candidates gait, their smile, their resignation, their anger. Deans concession speech was Nixonian, but dont forget we did get another big chance to kick him around some more. Kerry saved his voice for the conversation with Ted Kopell, where he synthesized many of the core Democratic themes in his best televised appearance to date. Edwards flipped from channel to channel with the satisfied glint of an attorney who has his closing argument lined up.
And dont forget the Republicans—particularly Ed Gillespie, the elegant RNC chairman who coolly handicapped the race with clarity, humor and insight. Something important has changed. Perhaps the old pros are right and this election will come down to whos cuter or whos got the wedge issues. But if Iowa is any indication, the conversation has been altered by the presence of the network—and RSS.
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eWEEK.com Messaging & Collaboration Center Editor Steve Gillmor can be reached at email@example.com.