Up until now the realm of social media with its ranks of whistle-blowing bloggers, tweeting political operatives, and sharp-tongued YouTubers has been widely considered the bastion of the digital left. But that is about to change.
David All is in da house.
And by 'house' I mean that thoroughly blue-tinted terrain of Inter-Web 2.0 historically dominated by the liberal likes of Ashton Kutcher, Will.I.am, Arianna Huffington, Norman Lear, Robert Greenwald, and oh, that Black dude who claims to be our president but who is actually a Muslim foreign national.
Who is David All?
Some call him Karl Rove 2.0. Others call him 'Jesus' for the tech-challenged conservative elite. But his website makes his true identity clear: "David All is the Internet. And he believes you are too."
I think David All may be the most dangerous man on the Internet, and I'll tell you why.
He gets social media. His consultancy DAG (David All Group) recently launched a new Web 2.0 platform called act.ivi.st -- a one-stop shop if you are attempting to outfit your local oil or coal lobbyist with a website that looks like a real grassroots organization fighting to stop climate legislation. The site seamlessly integrates Facebook Connect so you don't have to create a new account (a feature which conveniently doubles as a mechanism to background check your registered members).
It has a twitter feed, integrated YouTube video, a comprehensive blog and, most importantly, it has a leaderboard which allows members to score points for doing various activities like watching or sharing a video, connecting via Facebook, reading a post, etc. In other words he makes getting politically involved kind of fun.
The first public display of this social media technology tour de force is a new activity website for the Heritage Foundation, a neo-conservative Washington think tank that has worked for over a decade to derail climate legislation.*
Here's a demo of the new site:
But that's all well and good. Mega-rich corporations lobbying Capitol Hill ... that's just the way business is done in Washington. Unfortunate, yes. Out of bounds, no. Even their past propaganda stunts are just fine. Everyone expects propaganda.
But the NoEnergyTax.com social media site is doing something different ... it is turning propaganda into a verb. It is post-propaganda, a diabolical post-modern reinvention of propaganda that creates the fictional narrative of "real" people backing a "real" movement, when the reality is probably closer to a few well-paid interns cheerleading for a high-stakes marketing campaign.
Digital pom poms, kids. That's what I'm talking about. And that is what David All is delivering with style.
I don't blame him for wanting to get in on the social media game. They have had a series of ass-whoopins in the past few years. First there was Moveon.org, then Rock the Vote, then those oh-so-inconvenient viral videos by Brave New Films which discredited many a Republican candidate. Then there was VideotheVote (sorry no more AWAL ballot boxes) and lastly, that coup d'etat BarackObama.com which forever redefined how a political campaign could be run (and funded) leveraging social media tools.
But there's a big difference with those online media phenomena and what David All is trying to do with NoEnergyTax.com. The difference is transparency. In all the above cases, these are real organizations stating and then pursuing their political objectives. In the case of the NoEnergyTax, it is smoke and mirrors that facilitates the perpetuation of a lie -- that clean energy legislation will raise taxation on the middle class.
* To learn more about how the Heritage Foundation has been involved in funding "scientists" to rebuke climate change, I strongly encourage reading the book Climate Cover-up.
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