I spent most of this morning combing microfiche at the Salt Lake City library, more on that later. Aside from my realization that there is real business opportunity in converting newspaper archives to digital combined with even a rough OCR index, I found my activities of pillaging old newspapers a marked contradiction from today’s news.
Thirty years ago, a politician could say something outlandish and off the cuff to a private audience in a rural Utah town and expect it to not be national news the next day. However, the democratization of reporting through the Internet turns that assumption on its head. Soon one person picks up on the story, then it starts to spread. Suddenly its everywhere and you’re winning awards. Finally, you have to back pedal. It would have worked if it hadn’t been for those meddling kids and their Interwebs!
My worthy opposition should not feel bad about being burned by the Internet (again). He is in good company underestimating the power of the Internet. Fellow members of congress have attempted to edit biographies on Wikipedia. Having used the Internet since 1987, I realize there is more about me out there than I wish. I haven’t been grooming myself for a career in politics since an early age. Yet I fully realize that attempting to censor and retract my history looks worse than just being honest about it. What must scare traditional politicians to death is that now their words do not disappear. Campaign promises are not buried inside microfiche. Any constituent with a good grip on Google can do their own research and find the contradictions, the votes, the rhetoric and ascertain the character of the candidate outside the marketed image.
This shift is good for America, but bad for the status quo of Washington. It is encouraging to me is that this change is unstoppable. No matter how much money is spent on traditional marketing and media, the power of communication and technology will always overwhelm those who attempt to control it.