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Candidates & Blogging: Trippi’s Revolution

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We all remember Howard Dean’s brief yet famous Presidential campaign, right? The enormous grassroots support, the massive publicity, the gigantic online fundraisers; Dean’s success was mostly because he was the first candidate to effectively use the Internet. It wasn’t just a portal with one-paragraph “Issues” pages and a weak, unusable layout – he had online contributions, news… but most importantly a campaign weblog. What just a few months ago was almost unheard of and only for “technogeeks” (and Lockergnomes) has become almost a given for any Senatorial or Presidential candidate. And no, Alan Keyes doesn’t have one. Waste of ‘net space, if you ask me. While the candidate failed, Dean C.M. Joe Trippi’s campaign has revolutionized politics forever.

Let’s take a look at the two biggies: Kerry’s weblog, and Bush’s.
GeorgeBush.com/Blog – The incumbent’s got a fairly slick weblog, but it’s got some “issues” as well. It has category icons, but they appear at the bottom of each post, somewhat defeating the purpose. An upside, however, is the category archives actually link to category archives – and look at the URL: archives/cat_xxx_xxxx.html . Do I smell Movable Type at work? Some of the icons are very good, but others are hard to read (blue-and-white text on white background).

Unfortunately, Bush’s permalinks (using the classic “link” icon made famous by InstaPundit, no less) are not individual archives, just the Blogspot classic date archives with anchors.

Overall, the Bush camp has put up a pretty good weblog, but one thing is obnoxiously absent: COMMENTS. TRACKBACKS. Bush’s campaign has absolutely no method of user feedback, a feature which is considered more or less mandatory in blogs today.

Blog.JohnKerry.Com – This is by far the more traditional weblog of the two. First of all, it utilizes a smaller font which I prefer. The title fonts aren’t too big, nor is the “posted” paragraph too small. Wait, what do I see here? COMMENTS! Hurray! This has already one first place simply for allowing its users to talk back. I’d think method of gaining voter feedback would be especially cherished on political sites, and yet the Bush webmasters apparently haven’t thought to install it. This is also more of a true blog, content-wise, than its competitor. Bush’s weblog seems more like a big infomercial (New advert up!), while Kerry’s contains more photos and stories from the campaign trail.

My conclusion? I would say that both weblogs are effective, but Kerry’s is more of a true blog. Bush’s weblog seems to use weblog technologies to generate a “news” page. It’s all in what you’re looking for, but weblog purists will prefer Kerry’s page.

Originally posted on Andrew Quinn’s blog, SOUTHMOUTH.

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