MoveOn and the politics of grassroots mobilization

Gary Wolf in Wired magazine: A quiet couple in Berkeley, California, got sick of being ignored by the system. So they built a new one. How changed the face of fund raising, brought P2P to political advertising and reinvented…

Via: New Media Musings

Marshall McLuhan believed that new media cannibalize their predecessors: Writing preserved stories that had been spoken or sung; television was visual radio; on the Internet, people send each other letters. McLuhan’s point is that you can’t simply look at the content of a medium to judge its effects, for the contents will, at first, be traditional. Instead, you have to look at the context and the way the contents are consumed.

Which is more important, the medium or its contents? In the case of MoveOn, this is a testable hypothesis. If McLuhan was wrong, then MoveOn, next year, will be merely the sucked-dry remnants of a gigantic fundraising list, expiring in the aftermath of the campaign. If McLuhan was right, then MoveOn will continue to evolve and grow, assimilating all the familiar forms of politics into itself, extending them, heightening their impact, and using the material of yesterday to produce tomorrow’s unpredictable effects.