Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Howard Dean Started It?

Howard Dean is often credited with being among the first to tap the power of the Internet to further the goals of a political campaign. It didn't end well for Mr. Dean, and I'm not even sure he deserves all the credit he gets for injecting the Internet into politics. I am convinced, however, that he was on to a big idea.

Since the 2004 Presidential race, there has been very little discussion in mainstream media of the Internet's role in politics. An entrepreneur named Jimmy Wales is in the process of changing that.

Jimmy is most well-known for pioneering the Wikipedia, the free online encyclopedia available in dozens of languages with millions of articles. Wikipedia is run by a staff of just two or three full-time employees because all the content is published and edited wiki-style -- i.e., by consumers. More recently, Jimmy launched Wikia, a Bessemer-backed startup. Wikia extends the Wikipedia concept to all types of content, not just the type that belongs in an encyclopedia.

Just last week, Jimmy announced his personal role in leveraging Wikia to provide the broadest, most open platform for politics on the Internet. And like everything Jimmy touches, this latest concept is flourishing quite nicely. The Campaigns Wikia is a place where people truly engage in the democratic process -- sharing ideas and debating political issues. In just a week or so, the site is already loaded with content, and almost 1,000 pundits have signed up to get involved.

It will be very interesting to witness the impact of Campaigns Wikia and other Internet platforms on future elections.