Originally Published on NevadaNewsmakers.com, 6/18/2007 11:36:43 AM
Just a dozen or so years ago, before the field was invaded by millions of energetic marketing and political science grads with goatees and a demonstrated preference for unattractive eyewear, the internet was mysterious territory. Those who understood it were largely infantile and anti-social young men, most of whom never had tread before into the conference rooms of large companies, and rarely had stepped away from their computers. They tended to stay up all night coding, and when they ventured into the daylight to instruct the “newbies” – businesspeople who were expressing interest in the internet — they were surly and intimidating.
These were, of course, real Silicon Valley and San Francisco Media Gulch geeks circa 1994, before the word “geek” had any friendly connotations. They were developing a love-hate relationship with establishment types whom they viewed with scorn, but whose money they soon realized they could earn in previously unimaginable amounts.
Meanwhile, in marketing offices, whole careers were made by affixing an “e” to any word that described a transaction. E-commerce was born, and e-dating and e-trading. A secretary who took the initiative and learned HTML was immediately dubbed the office internet guru. Management was busy grappling with the proper use of the medium, and whether it was worth the money. Few upper managers bothered to become intimate with the technology. They should have bothered. Millions of dollars were ill-spent because they didn’t. It was only the sex merchants who needed no instructions. They had an immediate and complete grasp of how to harness the internet’s massive capabilities and do it well.
Organized politics came to the party late. But they’ve gone straight to the punch bowl, and are imbibing wildly.
Now instructions on the proper use of the internet come from an organization chaired by Nevada Republican Senator John Ensign. The National Republican Senatorial Committee has put together a guide to internet campaigning. It would truly have been horrifying to those anarchists and libertarians who ruled the bohemian Bay Area allies of the mid-90s that such information would come from Washington, and that it would be as simple as the kind of interoffice memo it was replacing. (If they’d known, many of them might have chosen to forfeit the riches, and keep the internet to themselves.)
The NRSC’s nine steps to using blogs and on-line video are simple and obvious, and that bespeaks more-or-less complete evolution of the medium in just over a dozen years. That an elephantine institution like a national political party gets it indicates that there’s really not a lot left to get.
At the same time, it’s worth noting that cost of a run at the White House has been established now at 100 million dollars, much of which is necessary to purchase media advertising. This is a fact lamented by good government types and outsider candidates.
It seems to the Reasonable Reporter that in a world where a YouTube posting can generate a million viewings its first day, and the NRSC is instructing campaigners to “make the blogs your first point of contact,” the high cost of campaigning is about to come down. Maybe not this year. But soon.
Read more about the NRSC internet guide at http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0607/4483.html