NOTE: I have no idea why this post is suddenly current. It was originally drafted in August, 2007. Why it’s here now, I dunno. But as it’s out there, no point in pulling it down. But do keep in mind all thoughts are in the context of 2007. Then again, how much has really changed in almost three years?
James Durbin at TechRepublican laments on the lack of any real organization like MoveOn or DailyKos on the conservative side of the web:
The sad thing is it wouldn’t take that much to build a solid organization. There are probably 5,000 blogs nationwide that could be organized into a conservative community and propped up with a Conservative Advertisers Network where politicians could buy geo-targeted ads and in-text ad links. For say, $500,000 total, we could work with one of the existing communities and grow it into a conservative powerhouse.
Any conservative George Soros out there want to pitch in some cheddar? Think of it this way – you’ll make more in a business-friendly environment then you will under a socialist one. I’m willing to give the set of plans to the right people, if anyone is interested.
And right there we see the problem with many people trying to play catch-up on the political side of Web 2.0.
It’s all about the money.
But it shouldn’t be. As I say in the comments:
Are we really just a bunch of mercenaries willing to go out of our way to advance the Conservative cause on the internet only if it pays well? Creating the “next big thing” or even utilizing what’s already there for the cause doesn’t take a lot of money, it simply takes time and a willingness to make it happen. Yet too many people are thinking in terms of dollars and seeing this as a money making opportunity. We’ve got to get past that if we can even hope to begin to compete on the web. Once you build something, once you have a model that works, then you can ask people to invest in it.
So a comment that talks about what is being done (and without a half a million dollar investment) and another that points out that money should not be the issue aren’t worth noting. They’re worth less than that. Good to know.
The problem is that the right is trying to create the “next big thing” right away. And while that might not come cheap, it’s a flawed approach at the issue. MoveOn had some big backing, sure, but DailyKos, ActBlue, these sites started as activist driven, grassroots organizations that have grown through the years. If DailyKos and ActBlue have made their organizers money, I’m pretty sure that wasn’t their intention and has become a delightful perk. It’s also ignoring the existance of sites like RedState which act as hubs of conservative thought without large financial backing.
Let’s look locally. Virginia Political Blogs and Richmond Sunlight are two projects from Waldo Jaquith that show what one can do if they simply have the desire and the time. While money might have been nice, Waldo didn’t need a big chunk of cash to provide a great political service. Either of these projects could have been made to target one political side or another if Waldo were so inclined, and at the same low cost and great service.
So the question becomes, are folks on the right really seeking the next big thing that will drive conservative activism or the next big thing that will make money?
Ultimately it comes down to the line that still holds true: if you build it they will come. You can’t just ask for a chunk of change upfront and promise to deliver some amazing product that will be the answer to everyone’s prayers. You have to have a product that’s already doing something, a working model that shows potential that only needs a little boost to dominate. GOPHub is a good service in its infancy. If it just had a bit more backing, not just financially but among the blogs, it could go a long way to act as a clearing house for the national conservative blogosphere. That they have a working model shows that it can be capable of and that’s a better thing to look to than so far empty promises and hype that smacks more of panhandling than actual substance.