Jeremy's Weblog

I recently graduated from Harvard Law School. This is my weblog. It tries to be funny. E-mail me if you like it. For an index of what's lurking in the archives, sorted by category, click here.

Friday, November 26, 2004

I fear that all of my content is going to get buried because of the holiday weekend, but I'll take the risk. Just wanted to write up a quick review of Howard Dean campaign manager Joe Trippi's book, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised, the story of Trippi's life as a political operative, the rise and fall of the Dean Campaign, and how although it was the first time the Internet had ever been used to any real effect in a Presidential campaign, it won't be the last, and the decentralization of political campaigns is the wave of the present.

It's a great read, really. Trippi, assuming he wrote the book, is articulate, passionate, and tells good stories. It's very compelling. But before I get to the stuff I liked, two things I didn't, one just quibbling and one a larger, more fundamental problem.

The quibble is that this book is riddled with typos. The West Cast (West Coast), Ray Neely (Roy Neel, the man who replaced Trippi in Dean's campaign), Carol Mosley Braun (Moseley Braun), and lots lots more. They rushed this book into print. They wanted to get it in stores way before the election. And in rushing it, they didn't scrub it for typos. I wasn't even looking for them and caught at least a couple dozen. That shouldn't really be acceptable. It distracted from the text.

The bigger problem is that Trippi's big point is that the Dean campaign illustrated that a presidential campaign can do a lot with the Internet -- mobilize tens of thousands of people, get them to donate, get them to feel involved, create a two-way discussion instead of relying simply on one-way communication -- and that campaigns will need to adopt this new paradigm to be successful in the future. Now, maybe they will. But Dean didn't even get the nomination. Bush and Kerry ran pretty old-style campaigns. So will it be shocking if in 2008 someone wins without using and and relies on big business donations more than relying on lots of little donations? Maybe. I mean, I like what Trippi is saying. But I don't know that the Dean campaign proves that this stuff absolutely has to be an ingredient in future winning campaigns.

All that said, I liked the book. It's a good behind-the-scenes look at the chaos of a presidential campaign, the quick decisions, the way that little things (i.e., screaming at a rally) can have a big impact (i.e., your campaign imploding). It covers lots of technology very well -- explains the potential power of blogs and things like MeetUp and MoveOn. It argues effectively for lots of businesses to decentralize and give their customers and employees more power, and shows lots of ways to use technology effectively. It will also probably give Trippi a whole bunch of customers for his consulting business, because he comes off as really smart and pretty visionary. Of course, Dean didn't win. But lots of people don't win. Good book. Worth reading.