Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Monday, June 16, 2008

Barack, imperfections and dreams

You'll be seeing a fuller analysis of how Barack Obama is pioneering a new form of popular democratic movement online from Amelia in the next few weeks, but for now this New York Times piece provides a good starting point. I particularly liked this passage:

It is not easy to say, because Mr. Obama draws on a range of influences, not the least of which is the high rhetorical tradition of American politics. As Garry Wills recently suggested in The New York Review of Books, Mr. Obama’s characterization of himself as an “imperfect candidate” draws on Lincoln’s idea “that the preamble’s call for ‘a more perfect union’ initiated a project, to make the Constitution a means for its own transcendence.”

But at the same time, Mr. Obama’s notion of persistent improvement, both of himself and of his country, reflects something newer — the collaborative, decentralized principles behind Net projects like Wikipedia and the “free and open-source software” movement. The qualities he cited to Time to describe his campaign — “openness and transparency and participation” — were ones he said “merged perfectly” with the Internet. And they may well be the qualities that make him the first real “wiki-candidate.”

Was thinking about such issues in part because I finally caught up with the BBC4 'Selling Power' programme, on how British adland has contributed to the marketing of politicians. In it, someone - I can't remember who - claimed that an effort like Will.I.Am's 'Yes We Can' would not work, as it wasn't connecting the politician's words directly to voters' lives. And I wasn't quite sure how a rap based on one of Obama's speeches isn't connecting the words, making them more accessible, as if they needed to be. Judge for yourself:

And yet more evidence that Obama connects at a level far deeper than other surface politicians. I had a dream about him last night; riding on a train with him through the American heartland, before driving through suburban winding roads on the side of high hills. I have no idea what all that means. But it turns out the phenomenon isn't that uncommon.



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