Time for our first beach-reading recommendation of the summer! One great pleasure of last month’s “Data-Crunched Democracy” conference was the chance to hang out with Daniel Kreiss, who’s written a must-read book on Democrats’ adoption of internet politics and digital political technology. I’d seen an early version of the book last year, but the conference spurred me to pick up the e-book version and give it a detailed run-through. You should, too: it’s a terrific telling of an important set of stories about how Democrats came to dominate digital politics (for now).
One key idea underlying the book (Taking Our Country Back: The Crafting of Networked Politics from Howard Dean to Barack Obama) is that technology doesn’t just “happen” to political campaigns. In the real world, people working for specific Democratic campaigns (Howard Dean’s, for a start) and Democratic institutions (like the DNC) CHOSE to test, implement and use tech ranging from blogs to self-organizing toolkits and voter contact databases.
Who should pay particular attention to what happened in the process? Republicans and others who want to inject a bit of that Obama internet magic into their own campaigns — the growth of digital politics on the Left was far from a smooth process, and Kreiss’s book has plenty of information useful for people navigating the internal politics of real organizations waking up to the fact that they need to change, or die. Check it out and see what you think. BTW, look for a few more book suggestions to come this summer — a little long-form reading wouldn’t hurt anyone in fast-moving days.