Oct 22, 2008

The Real Digitial Revolution - Political Edition


I'd been a fan of The Huffington Post up until this election season, when if devolved into a competition for not-very-bright-or-talented lefty journos to try and outdo each other with the most over-the-top articles on why Hitler, Stalin and Lucifer had nothing on McCain, Palin and their supporters.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find this very thoughtful piece from Arianna Huffington herself on why the internet has meant the death of Rovian politics. And self-centered creature that I am, my first thought was how this is yet another example of The Real Digital Revolution.

Allow me to explain.

Huffington's thesis (which she credits to Google CEO Eric Schmidt) is that thanks to the evolution of the internet, we are now able to rapidly fact-check and disprove Swift Boat, Obama-is-a-Muslim-terrorist, Trigg-is-really-Palin's-grandson and other smear campaigns. Or at least contain the belief that they are true to a much smaller segment of the population.

And she's right. It's hard to imagine that as recently as 2004, there was no YouTube. No real blogosphere. No real social media. So, as Huffington points out, if the tradtional media outlets of the day did not move full-force to disprove a rumor, then it was left to fester and spread and we had no real way to know the truth.

The same is true, in a (generally) less malevolent way, about product information. As I've noted in The Real Digital Revolution, it's only recently that we can fact-check the information advertisers feed us and learn the truth about products. From consumer feedback to expert reviews, we now get the real story about about whether "new and improved" really is new and improved. And so the power of The Big Lie is greatly reduced.

The question-- both in politics and in advertising, is whether we are currently experiencing a brief-lived Golden Age of honesty that will vanish like Brigadoon as the forces of darkness learn to manipulate the new media landcape.

Or if the Age of Reason really is here to stay.

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