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November 03, 2006

Has Blogging Become Grassroots 2.0 (Netroots)?

Computer_networkUPDATE 11/06/06: The official term for Grassroots 2.0 is "Netroots".

Here is Silicon Valley the hot buzz word is Web 2.0. Being a techie turned mommyblogger allows me to participate in one of the contributing Web 2.0 technologies (blogging).  As Web 1.0 was static web pages, Web 2.0 changed the nature of web usage to interaction and social networks. With a wave of 2006 election information coming my way over email messages and flyers in the mail,  I find myself turning to blogs to observe their views on the issues. That led me to wonder if blogging has become the second generation of grassroots activism. Where grassroots 1.0 consisted of static information published by volunteer organizations, news outlets and politicians, does grassroots 2.0 now includes networks of citizen journalists who blog to start on-line conversations on political issues?

When I was single  (let's just say in the late 80's, early 90's), I felt a responsibility to participate in the political process. With whatever time I could fit into my work schedule I joined community relations boards, assisted with letter writing campaigns, made phone calls to support candidates, went to community discussions to speak my mind on relevant issues and even attended a California Democratic Convention representing my local district. The process was laborious but was the only way to reach people. The main goal was person to person contact to discuss or inform voters on issues.

Now that I am a Mom, I don't have any time to volunteer on campaigns or even read all of the flyers, newspaper articles and political emails that come my way.  I am getting more information then I have in many years from reading blogs (Huffington Post, DailyKos, Wonkette, BlogHer, posts from my fellow contributors at svmoms) and community action requests from myfellow bloggers,  like Stefania from Citymama.  The grassroots 1.0 concept centered on individuals reaching out to the community to disseminate information. The reason that blogging is such a natural step for grassroots politics is that anyone in the community can have a blog, bloggers tend to be more outspoken, blogging is a discussion so the comments allow others to add their views to issues and it is a quick way to get information if the blogger or blogger community shares your ideals. Jeneane Sessum wrote a great post for BlogHer about using blogging to promote business which I think also make blogging a great platform for political discussions. The points listed below are notes for her discussion on a business blogging panel:

"The first point I want to make is that "Blogs are conversations," and what that means is that as a blogger you are ALWAYS talking to someone--hopefully MORE than some one but some days it seems like an audience of one. Conversation means you are actually talking to other human beings, not just to yourself.

With that conversation comes a responsibility. Good blogging brings a responsibility to be genuine--authentic--and honest. That doesn't mean you can't tell stories or that you can't ever use poetic license. It means that if you lie and try to cover it up, you will never present your business in a way that doesn't ring true because 1of 2 things will happen: 1) you will be left unread at best, 2) you’ll be outed and mercilessly ridiculed at worst."

And NO ONE makes fun of people better than bloggers. So big rule of good blogging is to be who you are. It's easier and more effective than pretending. Be human. Be MORE than your business is. Don't be afraid to hold a point of view you believe in.

I find it refreshing to read blogs because most are honest and authentic. It is true that blogs are written by citizen journalists and the fact checking is not the same as in the newspapers. But I would take honest views over all of the mis-information being passed out from some political campaigns.

Some people and organizations have already figured this out and are reaching out to the blogging community. When the Silicon Valley Moms Blog met with Elizabeth Edwards, I was impressed with her honesty. She was authentically interested in meeting mommybloggers and understanding their thoughts and issues.  Elizabeth Edwards is also web savvy and has utilized the Internet to join communities for breast cancer and for grief support. Her husband John Edward's One America Committee has a section specifically for bloggers to create a community. This is a great example of grassroots 2.0, they get it.

There is even a blog that talks about politics and technology. Their post "2006: Rise of the Political Blogs" shows a quote from a Roll Call  on-line titled "Blogging Locally" where NRCC spokesman Carl Forti stated:

"The people who go to these blogs, it’s the very partisan Republicans and very partisan Democrats, and those aren’t the people we are worried about.”.

The politics and technology blog states that "the Republicans at the NRCC completely miss the point about blogs". I have to be honest that I am a Democrat so I may be biased, but just looking at the tool used by the Democratic Party's site shows they get it. Their tool is called "Partybuilder" has a section for blogging.

Elizabeth Edwards asked a question during our meeting with that showed her blogging savvy: "Does blogging translate to change?".  Stated another way, does a blogger's expression of opinion translate to grassroots call to action?

I would like to answer that by saying "yes". I have received numerous call to actions on rallies and phone calls from my fellow contributors and blogging social network. Instead of an email from someone I don't know, these emails carry more weight with me. instead of receiving a flyer in the mail, I get to read the views of others I know and respect to help me decide which way to vote. Since my kids were sick this week I not go to the rallies, I accepted that call to action by sending emails to my friends on the issues that matter to me. That is why grassroots 2.0 is great for Moms, it can be done at home fter the kids go to sleep.



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