This was entirely apparent during the “So You Want to Build a Web Team” event. Chuck DeFeo and Patrick Ruffini both have worked for Republican campaigns, and they sat civilly from Joe Trippi and Jerome Armstrong, two avowed liberals. However, the discourse did not once degrade into the frothing hatred that discourse in this country so often becomes, nor was there any disparaging remarks made over particular political ideologies. In fact, I would go so far as to say that their main goal was to tell a shared history of the internet as it affects politics, noting the successes and innovations buoyed from either side of the aisle.
Furthermore, when discussing the future, they were almost sharing ideas without fear over the potential for political retribution of their own making. They were discussing where they saw the internet going and what they felt candidates need to do to succeed in the Internet age, fully knowing that such ideas could be turned around onto their candidate sooner rather than later. This was truly an astounding thing to see, and the diverse nature of the panel shows that such an event clearly was a priority.
The conference should be commended for creating a forum for such discourse. Hopefully, this sort of mutual respect can be fostered into a common understanding that can create further solidarity amongst some of the internet’s foremost innovators. This is what the country needs, and with the one-to-one connectivity and educational power of the internet, these internet leader’s personal respect hopefully will be at least a tiny step towards real communal progress. They hold the keys to the future of media, and hopefully they are able to take advantage of it.