Moveon made a choice a few months ago not to integrate social networking features into its website but instead to suggest to members that they sign up with an established social networking provider, Facebook.

I was surprised.  Then, thinking about it, it makes sense.  Moveon is a centrally organized, hierarchical, nontransparent organization.  Social networking is profoundly horizontal, encouraging novel inventions by exhibiting the ideas that move the fastest through the network.  Moveon would no doubt have profited from the high quality information it could gather on ideas its membership was producing.  Then it would have had to address numerous little revolutions as people feeling empowered would want to see their ideas made real.

Moveon membership is mostly old folks.  The demographic is boomer.  Social networking is mostly young folks.  There is a clear difference in structural styles emerging between boomer and the young.  Obama’s message and fundraising focus is focused in no small way on the social networking paradigm.  For example, the Obama website offers a “friends asking friends” feature where you can watch how much money you raise through the people you bring in.  It will be interesting to see if this method continues into a possible Obama Administration where he would seek to drive public opinion and move legislation through the use of his vast social networking infrastructure.  I suspect this tactic is exactly what will occur.  Still, there is the dynamic that an empowered people will demand response.  I’m curious to see how a highly hierarchical Democratic Party structure will be changed by social networking.

The surge of horizontal communications coupled with transparency and diversity is a powerful current to observe closely if we want to understand how the future unfolds now.  We can use these observations as an evaluation tool to determine how much potential impact a specific political power may have.  Noting Moveon’s hesitation about moving in this direction, I wonder how long it will be before a grassroots organization or non-organization emerges that will occupy this vacuum.

Vacuum it is.  Young people are becoming politically empowered by their experiencing empowerment online.  They are used to getting what they want, when they want it.  Customizing politics to serve a demographic used to getting what it wants will come as soon as bundling votes on specific issues online becomes integrated into social networking software.  This integration is coming inevitably, and soon.

Moveon does superb work.  Moveon also commits the sin of thinking for its members.  The members can think for themselves.  One does not have to be a mind reader to see that the future is not top down, but flat.


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