The Emergent Chaos of the US Presidential Campaign

This New York Times really is interesting. It’s all about how candidates are losing control of their campaigns, and they’re in a new relationship with emergent phenomenon on the internet.

Now, as we come to the end of a tumultuous political year, it seems clear that the candidates and their advisers absorbed the wrong lessons from Dean’s moment, or at least they failed to grasp an essential truth of it, which is that these things can’t really be orchestrated. Dean’s campaign didn’t explode online because he somehow figured out a way to channel online politics; he managed this feat because his campaign, almost by accident, became channeled by people he had never met.


Meanwhile, those candidates who have amassed roomfuls of well-paid online experts have frequently found themselves buffeted or embarrassed (or sometimes both at once) by mysterious forces outside their grasp. (“The Web Users’ Campaign,” The New York Times.)