Riding the tailwind of an historical election, Web 2.0 Summit set out to establish the Web as part of that history thanks to a dynamic, provocative panel that included Arianna Huffington (Huffington Post), Gavin Newsom (yeah, that one: Mayor of San Francisco), and Joe Trippi (political consultant).
There were sound bites aplenty. Joe Trippi talked about how dramatically the tools have changed, pointing out that people watched 14.4 million hours of video that the Obama campaign created; this is the equivalent of $47M of network time, and in this case it's not in a form that interrupts someone's programming, but something people seek. Like Kennedy's presidency using television, we now have a wired or networked president, Trippi pointed out.
Huffington noted that if it weren't for the Internet, Obama would not be president because he wouldn't have defeated Hillary Clinton. As for Obama's Election Night win, Huffington opined: "The Internet killed Karl Rove politics."
Gavin Newsom expanded on this point, saying that the tools of the Web have the power to shape public policy because they can create an ongoing dialog beyond a campaign.
The trio also hovered around an interesting artifact of Web and citizen journalism, which is that a politician must now always be on his or her game. You never know when not only a blogger lurks, but what private conversation or moment will turn into a random post on the Web. Trippi said that he believed this will usher in a new era of authenticity, while Newsom seemed to imply that it will just make everyone inauthentic more of the time. He relayed a story about his last campaign where he didn't notice half the people standing in front of him at a campaign stop. A handler told him that these were all of his Facebook friends.