Lichen Frittata

Buzz Machine

Posted in Uncategorized by lichenfrittata on July 24, 2009
College Republicans, casting about.

College Republicans, casting about.

The College Republicans have a new online gimmick! In 2008, there was STORM, meant to mobilize activists on the ground through viral communication and competition, which appears to have been an expensive failure. Their latest foray into Web 2.0 organizing is Operation Waiting Game, which tracks a participant’s online “actions”–a Tweet, a Facebook status update, etc.–taken in opposition to President Obama’s healthcare plan.

Like STORM, the incentive for participation is competition; some status is accorded to those who top the rankings (the leader right now has taken some 38,000 actions, topping his closest competitor by 12,000). Unlike STORM, this is not at all rooted in substance, or at least the potential for two people to discuss an issue in any kind of real way. There is almost nothing to explain what exactly they are opposing, except for the barest of tired talking points about socialized medicine in Canada and Europe; no attempt to suggest an alternative. The most striking blindness, however, is not the CR’s reactionary, one-dimensional response to Obama’s plan–it’s the confidence in the power of buzz itself to turn the ship. They think they’re beating the Democrats at their own game, but progressives on various issues are actually much more likely to mount a public protest or go door-to-door, which changes more minds than Twitter ever will.

Congratulations are in order to the social networking consultants–David All in particular–who must be making a bundle off the CR’s insecurities. Too bad no one’s telling them that buzz has no point without something solid underneath.


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