Three's Not a Crowd Technology and the Political Shakeup

By Siegel, Hanna | Kennedy School Review, Annual 2012 | Go to article overview

Three's Not a Crowd Technology and the Political Shakeup


Siegel, Hanna, Kennedy School Review


The American political system is exhibiting cracks. The approval rating for Congress has reached a record low of 13 percent, and more than 2.5 million voters have left the two major parties since the 2008 election (Washington Post-ABC News Poll 2012; Wolf 2011). Yet many Americans want change, and they are organizing to affect it.

The Tea Party movement, born in 2009, galvanized conservatives against taxation and helped elect more than sixty-five Congressional candidates during the 2010 midterm elections (Liasson 2010). On the other side of the political spectrum, the Occupy Wall Street movement has spurred protests in dozens of major U.S. cities, and its slogan, "We are the 99 percent," has infiltrated American culture and politics. Several Democrats in Congress have invoked the Occupy movement to push for legislation including President Barack Obama's jobs act and Internet access regulation reform. Meanwhile, less ideologically aligned organizations, including Americans Elect, a nonpartisan nongovernmental organization working to create a platform for an alternative presidential ticket, are also challenging the political status quo. All three of these groups have used technology to help them organize around a growing climate of discontent, and all three of these groups demonstrate the impact that political networks organized via the Internet can have on the American political process. Under the right conditions, these alternative networks could someday lead to a president who is not a Democrat or a Republican and eventually to the transformation of the American political system as we know it.

THE LONG TAIL

Central to the development of these new networks is a concept called the long tail. The long tail is the idea that the aggregate total of small, niche markets (the tail) is greater than the sum of the few mainstream ones (the head). Originally put forth by Chris Anderson in the October 2004 issue of Wired magazine, the long tail describes how industries, unencumbered by the pre-Internet costs of mass production, advertising, and distribution, can customize their services to individuals and make money at the same time. As Anderson describes it: "By overcoming the limitations of geography and scale ... [businesses] have discovered new markets and expanded existing ones" (Anderson 2004).

Before the Internet, devising a cost-efficient way to aggregate all of these smaller markets had been a near insurmountable challenge. But now, with obstacles like geography and communications costs reduced, a self-organizing marketplace of people has been able to form. This ability to connect has created a new customer base that, in many cases, has proven to be more profitable than the traditional base. The classic example of a long tail market model is Amazon.com, which has become a one-stop shop for every person who has a taste for Swedish documentaries or an obsession with Dziga Vertov movies. In effect, business models like Amazon's mean that everyone with non-mainstream tastes now has a place to shop.

Like the long tail of consumers, there is also a long tail of voters, ready to be tapped and mobilized if they are given the right options. The head of the political system is clear: the Democratic and Republican parties, along with the major donors who fund them. These groups monopolize campaign donations and set the rules for the American electoral process as they have for the past one-hundred years. Then there is the tail. This begins with the millions of eligible voters who do not participate, which in 2008 amounted to 37 percent of the voting population, but it also includes the millions of other voters who begrudgingly choose among the Democratic and Republican nominees because those are the only realistic options on the table (AU News 2008).

[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED]

THE NEW WAY TO ORGANIZE

Many Americans do not participate in politics, discouraged by what they see as an ineffective system that is unresponsive to their needs.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Three's Not a Crowd Technology and the Political Shakeup
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.