Howard Dean – Five Airports, One Twice

My trip to talk to Dean took my from SFO (my home town airport) to Denver International, then from Denver to a small private airfield called Centennial where the Governor’s plane was sitting, then the Las Vegas on the campaign plane (I did the interview on the way), then from the small Las Vegas airport where we landed to the main Las Vegas airport, then back to SFO. Three flights, five airports (one twice) – it was a taste of the campaign life. I rode a limo to the Las Vegas airport with a pilot who had been ferrying them around for a few weeks. He was exhausted and eager to go home to his wife in Salt Lake City. I woke up this morning thinking – these guys do this for a full year and the day it’s over one of them has to start work as the President?

The interview is not off my tape recorder yet, but we had an interesting conversation. I’m not going to post a lot of it here – at least not until I have my own thinking more clear and finished the story for Wired – but I will say that I did not get the candidate to commit himself to overturning the DMCA. Sorry, everybody. Ditto on the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act. Sorry, again.

Last night and this morning I’ve been trading emails with a frequent poster on the Dean blog known as the L1 Ranger. The questions I’ve been asking him (and others): how does this type of decentralized campaign protect itself from intentional disruption; also, what are the scaling problems? Yesterday, I wondered if I was looking at the climax of the ‘utopian’ phase of the Dean campaign, the moment of turning from underdog into front-runner. The blogs are happy now. The trolls are barely making their discordant voices heard. There have been no defections of disappointed ex-supporters, no sectarian split-offs.

Lots of online communities have gone through this phase. And then there’s another phase.

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