How is technology changing politics?
Walt Mossberg is the author and creator of the weekly Personal Technology column in The Wall Street Journal, which has appeared every Thursday since 1991. With Kara Swisher, he currently co-produces and co-hosts D: All Things Digital, a major high-tech conference with interviewees such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and many other leading players in the tech and media industries. The gathering is considered one of the leading conferences focused on the convergence of tech and media industries. In addition to Personal Technology, Mr. Mossberg also writes the Mossberg's Mailbox column in the Journal and edits the Mossberg Solution column, which is authored by his colleague Katherine Boehret. On television, Mr. Mossberg is a regular technology commentator for the CNBC network, where he appears every Thursday on the mid-day Power Lunch program. He is also a regular contributor to Dow Jones Video on the Web.
In a major 2004 profile of Mr. Mossberg, entitled "The Kingmaker," Wired Magazine declared: "Few reviewers have held so much power to shape an industry's successes and failures." Mr. Mossberg was awarded the 1999 Loeb award for Commentary, the only technology writer to be so honored. In May of 2001, he received an honorary Doctorate of Laws from the University of Rhode Island. In May of 2002, he was inducted into the ranks of the Business News Luminaries, the hall of fame for business journalists. That same year, he won the World Technology Award for Media and Journalism.
Walt Mossberg: Well we certainly haven’t seen the full impact of it because, as I said, we’re just in the very beginning of this revolution.
I would also point out to you that if you actually do the research, you will find that these kinds of articles have been written, and this kind of belief has been stated emphatically in the last two presidential election cycles, maybe the last three.
“Oh my god, the Internet is going to be the thing that changes the whole outcome. Oh my god, this is gonna draw everyone under 25 into the voting booth. Oh my god, a complete insurgent could come in and raise the kind of money that could make a real difference in a campaign.”
It’s been an important factor, something campaigns have to pay attention to in the last two election cycles; and yet it’s hard to say that it had any material impact on the outcome in the end.
The best example we all know is Howard Dean, who was almost entirely an Internet phenomenon and raised a lot of money, and then wasn’t able to translate that into votes and workers on the ground. Some of the Republican candidates in the last presidential election also had very effective Internet operations.
You’re seeing it again now with Obama, and Hilary Clinton, and Giuliani, and Romney. And so it’s become a part of the mix for these guys. Every campaign has serious web sites, and serious teams of web organizers, web developers, web bloggers, web fundraising people.
And it’s arrived. It’s here. It’s part of the process. But I think the jury is out on whether it can be game changing. I imagine someday it’ll be game changing, but I don’t know that it’ll be this election cycle or not.
Recorded on: Sep 13, 2007
"Oh my god, a complete insurgent could come in and raise the kind of money that could make a real difference in a campaign."
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