February 18, 2004

Grassroots Campaign Privacy

One of the more interesting questions posed to Joe Trippi at last week's Digital Democracy Teach-In was this (taken from the transcript of the Q&A):

Audience: I'm Micah Sifry with The Nation Magazine and my brother, David, is the founder of Technorati. He's speaking tomorrow. In 1993 Ross Perot created something very much like what you're describing, United We Stand America. At its peak it had 1.2 million, 1.3 million dues-paying members, $15 a person, but he owned the list. He wouldn't let his volunteers get a hold even of the names and phone numbers of the people in their county or whatever. We all know what happened to that. My question is who owns DeanForAmerica.com? Who owns the list? Who keeps the servers going when the campaign folds?

Joe: It's actually the best question. I can honestly tell you I don't know. I'm not there. I think one of the things happened in the Dean campaign is we actually went the other way for a while. We let local Dean groups have the folks that had signed up in their area, and states had that ability as well, and the problem was a spam problem. You were getting stuff from the Dean campaign nationally, you got a state thing, you got a county thing, and then the local 42 people had the names of all the other 42 people, and they started sending e-mails to each other, and we realized no one was reading the national e-mail that said, "We need your help right now." Not because they didn't want to read it, they couldn't find it. We were caught up in our own Dean spam for lack of a better word. That's not the right word for it because it wasn't spam. I don't think anybody thought it was…well some people probably did, but one of the problems we had during the campaign was there was so much e-mail about Dean from different Dean local people groups, Meetup groups, state groups, national groups that people had a hard time deciphering, "What's the one I've got to listen to right now."

I see the Deaniacs have started an online petition to make sure DFA does not give their information away. Prediction: the DFA people will give the info away. We'll see. Or maybe we won't.

Posted by brian at February 18, 2004 08:01 AM

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