Did Clark and Dean intend to set up open source software companies inside their campaigns? The core group of developers aren't doing this for free. They get paid a salary. They produce product. In fact, the core campaign technical teams are about the same size as the salaried teams of almost all of the commercial developers in this space.
However, that being said, I think it is indicative of these new guerrilla movements that they create their own social software. The reasons for this include the following:
- Many new guerrilla social movements don't have the financing to buy software during early formation. They go to open source due to the low cost.
- Going open source allows these growing movements to tap into the “spirit” of “free software developers.”
- Open source allows a higher degree of customization and integration than most commercial products allow. A software package that is customized for a movement provides a sense of ownership and defines the organization as an unique entity.
- Open source allows free distribution of the code as the organization scales.
- As new social software tools emerge (and they are quickly), these innovations can be quickly integrated into the core software of the movement.
One other thing to consider, are Dean or Clark the leaders of their respective movements? Increasingly no. The communities that have sprung up around these men are now bigger than they are. They have a life of their own.
They are also the first wave of the factional segmentation of American politics. We have seen that movements like these grow when people feel shut out of the government's decision making process. Grievance breeds organized opposition. The difference between today's opposition versus yesterday's is that the social technology we are using supercharges the entire process.
Jeff Jarvis thinks I am getting carried away with myself with this post. Perhaps I am, although I don't necessarily disagree with his contrarian view of the Dean campaign. There is a propoganda element at work in the campaign. There isn't a two-way flow of ideas on how to govern between the leadership and the campaign's supporters. The freedom of action allowed the community is merely restricted to operations.
However, it is pretty clear to me that the people supporting Dean have a similar viewpoint. They have chosen to join a community of like minded people. That community's relationships are now being etched into social software (that automates many of the difficult parts community development and maintenance — this provides the productivity boost that gives this campaign its momentum). Can this community survive a defeat? The history of American politics suggests no. Will we see it develop a platform, voting mechanisms, and a nomination process to field candidates that run against other Democrats in the future? Maybe or maybe not (this time). [John Robb's Weblog]