Tuesday, 23 December 2003

Napster Runs for President in '04

Frank Rich wrote a fascinating and entertaining editorial for the New York Times a few days ago ("Napster Runs for President in '04"). Between his attempts to be vogue by dissing the mainstream candidates and media for not "getting" the Howard Dean campaign's various uses of the Internet, Rich makes a few novel points. Among them, that we should view Dean more like FDR and JFK than George McGovern and Barry Goldwater. His conclusion:

Should Dr. Dean actually end up running against President Bush next year, an utterly asymmetrical battle will be joined. The Bush-Cheney machine is a centralized hierarchy reflecting its pre-digital C.E.O. ethos (and the political training of Karl Rove); it is accustomed to broadcasting to voters from on high rather than drawing most of its grass-roots power from what bubbles up from insurgents below.

For all sorts of real-world reasons, stretching from Baghdad to Wall Street, Mr. Bush could squish Dr. Dean like a bug next November. But just as anything can happen in politics, anything can happen on the Internet. The music industry thought tough talk, hard-knuckle litigation and lobbying Congress could stop the forces unleashed by Shawn Fanning, the teenager behind Napster. Today the record business is in meltdown, and more Americans use file-sharing software than voted for Mr. Bush in the last presidential election. The luckiest thing that could happen to the Dean campaign is that its opponents remain oblivious to recent digital history and keep focusing on analog analogies to McGovern and Goldwater instead.

Thanks to Mary Hodder of Napsterization for the heads up.

Posted at 6:52:41 PM | Permalink
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