Everyone I met at the Personal Democracy Forum was knowledgeable and hugely accomplished. It's exciting to be involved as a new idea coalesces. But there's so much up in the air, and there will continue to be, and this may explain the creeping feeling I had during the day's second panel - Bloggers, Jouranlists and Politicians - that no one on the panel would agree about what a blog even is, or should be used for. I know that "blog" may ultimately be one of those mush-words that can mean a number of things--like "communications" or "salad." But it would have been nice if someone had at least acknowledged the vast and nearly contradictory range of uses being implied by the discussion. No one would come out and say quite what we mean when we talk about blog. Are blogs a community environment, networked and self-perpetuating? Are they a transparency…

It was a gum-bleeding privilege to share the stage with the other members of this panel at the Personal Democracy Forum on Monday. The talk ranged from chihuahua Meetups to MoveOn's phone parties. (Okay, perhaps not the widest range in all the land.) But what moved me most was a thread of similarity between some comments by Eli and some comments by Dave Weinberger about where it's all heading. Answering a question about how technology will fuel campaigns in the future, Dave said "We will be driven to invent new stuff." Asked about the impact of MoveOn's tools on the future, Eli said "It's gonna shake out over the next couple of years," and later, talking about how a viral campaign catches hold where you might not expect and finds priorities you can't predict, he said "It goes where it wants to go." These guys, from their promontory views of…

At dinner the night before this conference, I sat by Micah Sifry and Dave Weinberger and we were talking about the challenges of collecting what a large-scale constituency thinks and distilling it in a usable way. In online dialogue and online advocacy, we obsess about how best to sift through thousands of messages from thousands of people and derive priorities, consensus and strongly-held views. AmericaSpeaks has a process they call "theming" for their face-to-face town meetings, in which a team of real people reads a raw feed of notes from meeting participants and creates a real-time report back to the larger group. There's tremendous power in seeing what you say and feel reflected back to you and knowing that there are others who feel similarly. But it often remains hard to see how that emergent opinion can escalate into the hands of decision-makers and directly influence policy. The decision-maker audience…

Posting wireless from the rooftop bar at Soho House, swank location of the dinner kicking off tomorrow's Personal Democracy Forum. Hubbub of the sound system, view of the new Gansevoort Hotel... Preparing to send the next newsletter for our Peace Building Dialogues. Next to me, checking mail, Sanford Dickert, erstwhile CTO of the Kerry campaign. I called him "Sandy." Annoyed with myself. Okay, and Dennis Quaid just walked in. Sheesh.

I never thought Dean would be the nominee, but the little excerpts from his Portland, Ore. appearance with John Kerry remind me that I miss his pith and passion. Compare Dean's jabbing, upbeat style to the oratorical circumspection in Kerry's quotes. Just makes me wish for a little bit o'Clinton or Buchanan in the mix. Yes, I said Buchanan. If you've got someone pithier and punchier, feel free to let me know.

Close