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Saturday, February 10, 2007

Waiting for Candidate 2.0

I don't have any serious Presidential preferences yet, but so far I'm pretty underwhelmed. There's certainly no shortage of unexciting, experienced competence, nor do we lack for enthusiastic, unproven blank slates onto which everyone can project his or her own expectations (for the time being, at least).

What I'm looking for is what I've begun thinking of as Candidate 2.0. I didn't invent the term, I read it on some blog that was linked to another blog that pointed to an article, or some similar place. I'm looking for a candidate who is actually clueful regarding online outreach.

Make no mistake, online campaigning is going to be big in 2008, but I've seen no evidence so far that any of the candidates really get it. The big question is, What is It?

First, Candidate 2.0 is going to have an online presence. Not just a campaign website, everybody has one of those now, but a real personal presence. That means a website of his or her own, distinct from any office or campaign sites. Ideally, it shouldn't even be solely political.

Candidate 2.0 will also be a blogger. Not just have a blog, they're all going to have a "blog" soon anyway. The difference between having a blog and being a blogger is like the difference between having a child and being a parent -- the later implies a far greater depth of involvement and commitment. Candidate 2.0 will have to be willing and able to carry on a dialog with the blog's readers, not just use it as place to post press releases. What's more, the blog will have to be genuine. The posts can't be just the usual campaign platitudes, they have to be real.

Candidate 2.0 will also participate in podcasts and vidcasts the same way 20th century candidates made radio and TV appearances. Actually, C2.0 will have to participate in those things more than candidates used to in TV and radio. Or, more precisely, they will have to participate more deeply. That's because podcast audiences expect an intimacy and personal connection far greater than what has previously been expected of talk show guests. It won't be enough to go on the show and talk about how great the campaign is going and how wonderful the supporters are blah blah blah.

It'll be forgivable for Candidate 2.0 to not actually have their own podcast or vidcast, due to the time involved, but the campaign absolutely must have one. I think that's already expected, though.

Candidate 2.0 will also have to make a plausible effort to engage pre-existing online communities. There will be an official campaign headquarters in Second Life (or the current equivalent), with C2.0 making personal virtual appearances. There will also be appearances in World of Warcraft, Everquest, and whatever other online worlds will allow such things. Plus maybe a "game with the candidate" type event on Xbox Live. You know somebody a lot better after you've teamed with them in Halo 2 or Counterstrike.

Finally, and this is the real clincher, Candidate 2.0 will be completely open and honest in his or her online interactions, simply because online communities will tolerate nothing else. Spin won't fly well in a blog when the commenters call you out. You'd better be ready to tell the truth, back it up, and explain your position.

This is the part that I think will keep any of the current crop of politicians from being viable as Candidate 2.0, because you have to be able to do all the things yourself. You can't have aids writing your blog posts, nor can you have a handler sitting over your shoulder telling you how to respond in a Second Life chat. You have to be able to do those things yourself. That's another reason honesty and openness will be essential: it's a lot easier to stay in character if you're really being yourself.

Your positions will have to be your positions, otherwise the only defenses you'll have for them will be the standard canned responses, which will have already been shot down elsewhere. It'll look bad if you're flummoxed in WoW by a simple copy and paste from your opponent's website.

When a Candidate 2.0 emerges who can harnesses the potential of online outreach, it's going to be game-changing. It's going to be the 21st century equivalent of the Nixon-Kennedy debates. One candidate in the race is going to step comfortably and confidently into cyberspace, and the other is going to be left standing at the door, looking uncomfortable and old-fashioned.

Candidate 2.0 will have the opportunity to speak directly to millions of people all across the country in what is nearly a one-on-one medium. Their supporters will feel a deep and personal connection, some of them may even form actual relationships and friendships, not only with each other, but with Candidate 2.0. That's powerful. Staggeringly powerful.

This is all going to have to be driven and directed by Candidate 2.0, though, instead of C2.0 just jumping on board a wave of online support and riding it as long as possible. That's what Howard Dean did, and it can ultimately only get you so far. Dean could plausibly be Candidate 1.5, since his campaign began to realize the potential, but Candidate 2.0 will get it deeply and personally, and will seize that initiative directly. Candidate 2.0 won't be able, or willing, to act only through virtual front men.

Last, but not least, by necessity, Candidate 2.0 will be someone with a legitimate chance of winning to start with. That means that he or she will be a Democrat or Republican, with decent pre-existing support to build on. We could see Candidate 2.0 emerge as early as 2012, but I think it'll be a few more cycles before we see anybody mount a viable campaign that starts with a primarily online presence as a foundation.

That person will be Candidate 3.0. :-)

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Wimping Out Tonight

Yeah, that's right, no story today. Heather Marie has been sick for the past two days, and this morning I woke up with a sore throat. Nevertheless, I've been sitting here since I got home at 8:00 trying to formulate a story to go with "magnetic mechanized toy," and I just can't focus long enough to do it. That's a pretty typical pre-cold symptom for me, so I'm hoping that I can go to bed soon and maybe get ahead of it a little.

Health permitting, I'll be back tomorrow with the story that should've been today, and I'll be tacking an extra day onto the end to compensate.

Now, off to sleep....

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Writing and Running

Although I haven't ever actually "won" NaNoWriMo, I have done it enough to get a feel for it, and it's a little like running a marathon (well, maybe a 5k, since it's only 50,000 words). You have to keep up a steady pace day after day, but eventually your story gains a momentum of its own that sort of pulls you along in its wake.

If NaNoWriMo is a distance race, though, then my "month of short stories" idea is turning into daily wind sprints. There isn't the pressure of a running storyline to maintain, but there also isn't the assistance of the momentum. They say the hardest part of writing a story is starting, so I'm basically doing the hardest part every single day.

I'm ashamed to admit it, but only a few days in, and I can feel it wearing on me. I'm not about to quit, but it is a lot harder than I'd anticipated!

Nevertheless, I have a story tonight, so please enjoy Miniature Foam Game. It's by far the shortest so far, but I think that I must be subconsciously correcting the average back down to what I'd originally anticipated.

Monday, February 05, 2007

Oh boy....

To quote Quantum Leap, "Oh boy."

When I saw today's random phrase, I nearly clicked the button to generate a new one.

Erotic Inflatable Sport

Um...what? For heaven's sake, my mom reads these stories!

I finally decided that not doing it would be kind of a cop out, so I stuck my tongue firmly in my cheek, and gave it a shot. Besides, talk about a title that will drive traffic! ;-)

So, if you haven't already given up on reading these after the first three (and, honestly, who could blame you?), go have a read of Erotic Inflatable Sport.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Story o' the Day

So far so good, as I managed to post yet another story today. Eco-friendly Illuminated Instrument can be found here.

Just a few brief words about the experience so far. I'm actually a little frustrated, since all three stories so far have been significantly longer than I'd intended. They've been 1311, 1934, and 1384 words, which is significantly longer than the 500-1000 words I'd anticipated. I think those totals will come down some as the month progresses, though, especially as I start writing on weeknights instead of weekends.

Also, the stories have undergone basically zero editing. I've been doing some minor wordsmithing during the initial writing, but other than that, the changes are limited to little more than spellchecking and correcting names that changed later in the story. In fact, I haven't even reread any of them, so what you're getting really is the rough draft of a story.

I fully expect that they'll be strange, incomprehensible, confusing, rambling, incoherent, or all of the above. Deal with it. I've never claimed otherwise, so don't be surprised or disappointed. :-)

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Story Two

Transparent Hand-crafted Company is now available.

Also, in case you missed it, the link to yesterday's story was the story title at the bottom of the post, but you can click here to read it if you don't feel like looking it up.

Friday, February 02, 2007

One Crappy Story After Another

So, I have this crazy idea....

One of the Dashboard Widgets I have on my Mac is a neat little app called the Idea Generator from Monkey Business Labs. It's a fun little Widget that will randomly generate 3-word phrases that you can use as seeds for brainstorming ideas. The combinations range from the surreal to the sublime, and so it's a lot of fun to try to think of products you could create based on those.

I really do think that working within strict (and sometimes bizarre) limitations really can foster creativity. If necessity is the mother of invention, then restriction is probably its father. Or at least an uncle.

And that's what led to my crazy idea: Could I take whatever combination of words it gave me, and turn them into a story idea? I thought about it some, spun up some combinations, and decided that I could.

Naturally, the next question was whether I could do it for a whole month. That seemed a lot tougher, so I chose February because 1) it was just starting, and 2) it's the shortest. I know it has already started, but I didn't think of the idea until the morning of February 1, and I've been really busy since then. So I'm going to go 28 days starting February 2.

So, here are my ground rules:
  1. I'll accept whatever combination of words is the first one it generates.
  2. If I get a repeat word from the previous day, I'll regenerate that one word.
  3. No word limits. I'll just write until the story is told (within reason, of course).
  4. No major editing or rewrites.
  5. No emphasis in quality whatsoever. I fully expect that I'm going to produce 28 of the worst short stories ever seen by mankind.
  6. I'll write a story a day and post it as soon as possible, but they may not actually be posted daily.
  7. The story will be inspired by the phrase, but may not always directly (or obviously) relate to it.
  8. I reserve the right to modify the rules at will. It's good to be king.
Also, in order to keep my main blog here fairly clear of the junk I'll be spewing out this month, and to throw a bone to some friends who insist on blogging elsewhere, I'll be posting the stories to my LiveJournal account instead.

And so, without further ado, I present Luxurious Nuclear Garden.