As an optimist about the power of blogging and other user-led tools to create positive change, I’m excited that I’ll be leading the discussion on politics at BloggerCon IV on June 23-24 in San Francisco. I had a fascinating time at the first BloggerCon, but geography and other commitments have conspired against me for the succeeding two. With BCIV just a Bart ride away, I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
Dave Winer and I had a discussion this morning about both the role of a discussion leader and how we might frame the politics discussion. I agree with Dave that the primary role of the discussion leader is to keep the conversation vigorous and on target, to ensure that everyone can be an active participant and that everyone comes away feeling they have both enjoyed the conversation and learned something.
In the nature of an unconference like BloggerCon, the approach to the topic will be protean, not fixed. But I think the starting point for the politics discussion will be to examine whether and how blogging and other new participatory media can make a positive contribution to the 2008 national election in the US. There’s a real risk that these great tools will just make negative, attack politics more potent. I don’t think it has to be that way.
The other foundation of the discussion should be understanding what the next great shift might be. I recently had a discussion with a leading political consultant who said one very perceptive thing: “The Dean campaign did something truly innovative and new in 2004. But if anyone thinks the next step is to do that, only better, they’re missing the real opportunity.” What’s exciting is that I don’t think anyone has a clear idea yet of what that next revolution might entail. BloggerCon IV will be a wonderful platform for that discussion.