The Technology Tsunami
THE 2006 ELECTIONS DEMONSTRATED the combined power of generational and technological change to produce new winners with new ideas and new ways of winning. This wave of change is washing over the social and political landscape of America, threatening to sweep away businesses, power structures, and institutions that were built on the beliefs and technologies of a previous era. Already, the music industry's business model has been completely disrupted, in the last decade, by its customers' extensive use of peer-to-peer technology (P2P). Around 97 percent of the songs stored on the more than 100 million iPods in use today were either copied illegally or ripped from personal CDs with no compensation to the record company (Wingfield and Smith 2007; Smith 2007). Similar disruptions in the way all entertainment industries do business are becoming evident, as people watch their favorite TV shows on their iPods or download first-run movies to watch on their PCs in the comfort of their homes. Since Washington, as one wag put it, is “Hollywood for ugly people,” the power brokers and pundits who currently lead our national political debate are also feeling the changes that those in the music, television, and movie industries are unsuccessfully trying to resist. And, just as each of the key entertainment industries are being forced to find new ways to relate to their customers in an Internet era, political parties, candidates, and campaigns will have to find new ways to communicate their messages and promote their messengers to voters—if they want to win elections in the twenty-first century.
The source of this radical shift in power begins with the underlying architecture of the Internet, which permits the high speed, or broadband,