This is an op-ed; opinion herein is mine. ~Rayne
A tweet yesterday by technology-futurism pundit and sci-fi writer Bruce Sterling hinted at the problem of technology industry and journalism, with regard to politics:
The tweet was spawned by a profile in The New York Times of Newark NJ’s mayor, Cory Booker, who has used social media regularly as a community outreach tool. In addition to bestowing the inapt label “A Politician From the Future,” a critical problem in this article is the labeling of Cory Booker as appealing to “the Googly-Facebookish wing of the [Democratic] party.”
Except that Cory Booker is extremely proficient at using microblog platform Twitter, and Twitter has a significantly different demographic profile with regard to race and age. Further, Twitter’s 140-character post limitation has been much easier to use on mobile devices, fitting a mobile business model long before either Google or Facebook.
It’s not clear what Sterling thought about the NYT’s article, though in a reply he expanded and lumped together the “Twittery-Googly-Facebook” crowd, suggesting he’s missed both NYT’s error while not understanding the demographics and politics at play.
Both Sterling and NYT fail to take seriously Booker’s actions themselves; they look at the medium, not the message, which is that Booker’s deeds are like that of an old-school Democrat, the kind we used to have before the corporatist Democratic Leadership Committee co-opted the Democratic Party to serve somewhat more liberal overlords.
Booker’s use of Twitter was carefully noted by TIME back in 2010, after Booker had taken personal, hands-on action to help constituents during a snowstorm. It wasn’t a collection of photo ops for a campaign (as another mayor-candidate demonstrated in another city), but actual response to situations where elbow grease and a shovel were required.
What both NYT missed, besides categorizing Booker as belonging to the “Googly-Facebook” portion of the Democratic Party:
— Booker’s efforts with regard to his one-on-one interactions with constituents do not compare with a considerable portion of the party to which he belongs;
— His actions are highly transparent, his words sync with his deeds right there in the public forum of Twitter;
— Booker uses “big data” to make and justify decisions; “big data” is merely a contemporary expression of polling data used in the near-term past and present.
It’s not clear that Sterling notes these key points, as focused as he was on the social media component and NYT’s representation of Booker as a politician from the future. Continue reading