First of all, check out this incredible building presiding over Syracuse University, The Hall of Languages. (Also see a webcam for it here.)
I arrived in time for John Hlinko‘s talk at this conference by the Center for Digital Literacy. (Also in time for tasty BBQ from Dinosaur Barbecue.)
Hlinko’s sharp and funny and clear and you can see his background as an economist, comedy writer (what’s with the Wesleyan corner on comedy writing?) and the creator of The same savvy is apparent when he explains some of the tactics that the Draft Clark folks used. They were thinking holistically about a communications strategy, not just presuming that a grassroots/magic-bullet/sliced-bread approach would scale them to the amazing level of success they achieved.
People don’t make this point enough. For the Internet to do what it can for your campaign, or your product for that matter, it needs to be one element of a compelling communications strategy. John said the Draft campaign “tried to do something that would make the news every couple of weeks.” It’s not as if when you step online a whole new set of Internet rules apply.
Not enough people talk, for instance, about how Dean had an entire war and the controversy surrounding it as a communications initiative preparing his platform for him. MeetUp and the Dean blog were in many ways just the match. (I like that, the match and the bat.)
John also made an apt though counter-intuitive analogy comparing the controlled-message style of the GOP to communism as opposed to the greater churn of messages from many corners within the Democratic Party, which he suggested more closely resembles free market capitalism. “It may be more unwieldy,” he said of the bubbling, sometimes competitive agora of left-wing action, “but there’s more aggregate activism.”
He also had a nice PowerPoint without too many words on it. Should I have a PowerPoint…?


  1. Powerpoint is only part of the communicaitons tools. Think “holistically about a communications strategy”.
    Nice recap.

  2. Marty!
    Too true, too true. In this case I just meant should I put together a short PowerPoint in my session the following day – which I did, and you can see if you can stream these webcasts:
    I’d say PowerPoint is about as far from Clark bars as you can get – except maybe a velo-bound business plan. But I do think a good presentation can have a place if you can make it sexy, image-centric not word-centric, and ignore it without fear of leaving behind the substance of what you’re saying.
    Reminds me of what screenwriting guru Robert McKee (the guy Brian Cox played in “Adaptation”) says about voiceover as a storytelling device: If your script works fine without the voiceover, you can leave the voiceover in. If it doesn’t then take it out – you’ve got a bigger problem.
    For more on the perils of PPT, see Edward Tufte in Wired, “PowerPoint is Evil”:

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