Presidential Campaigning at the Edge

If you read Dan Gillmore's December 8th ejournal entry, he talks about Dean as "the candidate who - thanks to prescient aides who saw the power coming from the edges of the networks - melded the Net with a more traditional campaign." If you don't know the lingo, you miss the point. Whether by accident or design, Dean is energizing the edge by providing tools that enable group forming networks. Here is an example:

Dean Volunteer Activity from National Site

Process to get involved:
1) go to webpage
2) click on get local
3) type in Zip Code, returns no results
4) click increase radius of search, returns 8 events
5) find tea party event and two others 36 miles from home in 2 days, send email to hosts, wait for response
6) Notice list of attendees names and click on one
7) Notice search for people by zip code, put in zip code with 5 mile radius
8) See list of 18 Supporters in my small town
9) Click to email all of them, and send them a note to drive together

Summary: The Dean process drives one to the edges, creating a decentralized network topology.

Power in Networking

Here is a diagram of some common network topologies:

The Power is on the Edge of the Network

According to Reeds Law, "Networks that support the construction of communicating groups create value that scales exponentially with network size".

The edge is a connection between two nodes on a network that is not central. When nodes are people, and they can easily get together with other edges, they can create a community. Edge systems are extremely powerful, as can be seen in this diagram.

Tools to empower the Edges of the Network

The top of a home page is similar to the top-fold of a newspaper. As you can see from Howard Deans Home page, he is driving traffic towards the most important Web tools - Official Blog, Get Local, Dean Link and Contribute. The first three are all well known tools for decentralized community building.

Blog
The blog is an edge tool because it enables anyone to post a comment without restrictions. When new blog entries come up, hundreds of posts follow immediately, facilitating side conversations with people interested in the topic or the candidate. This connects anyone to anyone and gives people a sense of partnership with the campaign and the candidate.

Get Local (Events)
The tool is an edge tool because it enables anyone to create an event for the campaign, or RSVP to another event (both without restrictions). It enables someone to very quickly find events in their physical space. It enables one to email members of the group who have RSVP'd to the event. It shows light all the way to the "edge" of the network.

Dean Link (People)
Dean Link is an edge tool because it enables anyone to find other supporters within their geographic proximity. People can list themselves, with a picture and personal interests, and anyone can search by ZIP code to find others in their neighborhood. The tool also shows the friends of each person, so one can browse through the social network of volunteers. This could be extremely valuable during the GOTV effort, because peer-pressure could be applied to central "connectors" asking them to personally call their friends.

Once the tools are in place, they need to be energized by feeding traffic to them. On Dean's home page, he has 8 different links to the "Get Local" system.

Driving Traffic to the Edges of the Network

The top of a home page is similar to the top-fold of a newspaper. As you can see from Howard Deans Home page, he is driving traffic towards the most important Web tools - Official Blog, Get Local, Dean Link and Contribute:


Here is a table which contains the number of links to various edge tools on each of the main candidates home pages:

Candidates Home Page
Links to Edge Tools







Blog Events People Forum Wiki
Carol Mosley-Braun - - - - -
Wesley Clark 4 3 - 0 -
Howard Dean 7 8 1 * -
John Edwards 10 - - - -
Richard Gephardt - - - - -
John Kerry 3 - - 1 -
Dennis Kucinich * - - 3 -
Joe Lieberman 1 - - - -
Al Sharpton - - - - -



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