Ringside seat

· People Power

Sacramento Bee columnist has been publishing his California Insider weblog since April, but with the recall craziness, his blogged insights are especially welcome, giving us a glimpse into the chaos that is California’s governance.
One of his readers likens webloggers to courtiers, but haven’t journalists always behaved like a gossipy jockeying court, especially capital press corps?
His reader put it this way:

I’ve decided that you bloggers are like the 17th century French court: an obsessive social circle constantly calculating alliances (with other bloggers); gossipy and sometimes outrageously catty about people in power; carefully measuring the political climate, whispering rumors of beheadings; members of the highest reaches of the establishment but outsiders in an insider’s world.

I like gossip! OK, I’m out of the closet on that one now. Here’s my queston. Where’s the California Insider’s RSS feed? I guess I need to point NetNewsWire and see if it’s really-simply-discoverable.
UPDATE: Doy, I looked at the source, really simple. It’s clearly an MT template. There’s a funky and forky RSS 1.0 feed pointed to and an RSS 0.9 feed available as well.

DeanSpace to coordinate online campaign efforts

· People Power

Howard Dean’s presidential campaign has already distinguished itself by its savvy embrace of the Internet and weblogs (or “chatrooms” as I heard one uncomfortable political pundit refer to them on NPR a few weeks back) and the wellspring of enthusiasm coming from the grassroots. It’s not surprising when you consider that they’ve been taking advice from David “World of Ends” Weinberger and Rick “There is No Spoon” Klau.
While the Dean campaign can’t control all of the self-motivated SpringfieldForDean.com-type websites and their independent efforts on the behalf of the candidate, the campaigners seem to be OK with that, willing to give up some control in the interests of capturing that free-floating energy. Still, it looks like we are seeing this semi-independent groundswell mature and it’s possible that emergent structure will appear from the loosely knit chaos.
The developers of DeanSpace have chosen Drupal to build a community in order to provide tools, support, and advice to Howard Dean’s grassroots supporters. From the “About DeanSpace” page:

Howard Dean’s online grassroots campaigners are more savvy, nimble and numerous than those of any other candidate – our wired ranks now number in the hundreds of thousands and continue to grow. We want to keep that growth accelerating and allow the energy generated online to erupt into real-world campaigning.

We don’t think it’s too brazen to say we are experimenting with the future of the democratic process. So far Howard Dean’s grassroots campaign has exhibited decentralized participation working on a true “town hall” model, yet also operating in a nationally connected and coordinated fashion. We are having surprising and extraordinary results.

But we can still do better.

While new “for Dean” web sites come onto the net every day, their ability to share information is, at best, hit or miss. The lack of an effective system of communication throughout the network limits the opportunity for these impassioned groups to connect and foster a strong online community. Disjointed and disorganized, the current online grassroots campaign functions like any old twentieth century grapevine.

It could be so much more.

This is one experiment I’ll be watching closely.

Wiki – the flood

· People Power

So it occurred to me a month or so ago that the best potential use of the Dead Beat website might be to set it up as a Wiki. Wikis are, among other things, highly collaborative websites.
See, for example, the
Grateful Dead entry in the Wikipedia, a project building an entirely collaborative encyclopedia.
Technically, all this would require is me setting up a wiki engine on the backend. There are many free choices, including several that run on the LAMP platform I prefer (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP).
The tricky part is bringing in participants, seeding the wiki, etc. It could build off the strawman taxonomy on the Dead Beat home page (itself sketched out in one of the Dead conferences on the Well).
We could still offer blogs to Dead heads on the site, possibly using Scoop (which powers k5) or Drupal, for those who want a more structured, more “self-owned” writing environment. If the mission of all blog posts are to be somehow Dead related (and maybe categorized), then a combined news feeds from all participant blogs. Currently, just this one, with two active contributors and a few others in the background, and complement the more freeform wiki side of the site.
Something tells me Dead heads would just more naturally prefer the wiki.
[ObDead] Joan Osborne is getting raves.