Gary Wolf is doing a piece on the Dean campaign and coming up with some fairly interesting stuff. He’s writing a post-facto manifesto in an attempt to capture the magic. I particularly like “You’re not a leader; you’re a place.” Of course, Dean is a leader — that’s in part a clever bit of spin to keep people from thinking of the campaign as a cult of personality. But there’s a nugget of truth to it as well. Community-building on the Internet requires a seed figure for a leader. It also requires that seed figure to make the place comfortable. Good mailing lists have a list mom.
Hm. I think he’s missing the “push” element of the campaign as well. In order for Dean to succeed, he needs to push his message out to non-connected people via his Internet community, which is why you see a lot of exhortations to put up posters and hand out fliers and so on. It’s a vital part of the Internet campaign.