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Taking on the System: An Interview with Markos

Christian Avard, over at the Huffington Post, just posted an interview with Markos Moulitsas, founder of DailyKos.com and co-author of Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots, and the Rise of People-Powered Politics. In the interview they discuss Markos’s new book, Taking on the System: Rules for Radical Change in a Digital Era from Penguin Books.

Having been involved in blogging for a long time, here’s my favorite bit of the interview. It describes perfectly my attraction to the medium.

Critics often say blogging is chipping away at the power of community and activism. Do you believe it’s replacing the current means of activism or is it adding to it?

Well as you read in the book, I’m a critic of traditional protests. I think an effective modern activism campaign requires a strong media component, because if you do something and nobody hears about it, you’ve basically wasted your time. What you want to do is maximize the number of people that find out about your action and use that attention to bring people over to your side. In the book, I talk about street protests that didn’t work. It’s not that the tactic is bad, it’s the way it’s traditionally been done. “Let’s all get together and make a lot of noise! Yay! Free Mumia!” That is absolutely useless. It’s almost counterproductive. So you have to have a media strategy, and blogs are a medium. It’s one way to get the message out and what I talk about in the book is you work your way up the media hierarchy. If you are effective and your activities are compelling enough, they will jump over into traditional media outlets. One excellent example was Cindy Sheehan. Her protest in Crawford, Texas, began as a blog and e-mail list phenomenon. It worked its way up the ladder. MoveOn started promoting it and then it jumped over to radio, television, and newspapers. It became a huge national sensation. It almost certainly had a huge affect on the national sentiment on the war in Iraq. But then it started to disintegrate. More causes showed up in Crawford to get their own media attention. Sheehan also began marching in traditional protests, demanding attention, visiting Hugo Chavez, etc. It all fell apart at that point. But that initial strategy was very much effective. I don’t think she would have gotten as far without the blogging component. I don’t think the Obama campaign would even exist if it weren’t for people-powered media.

Keep up the good work Blogfather.


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