On Monday and Tuesday, several hundred lovers of technology and democracy converged on New York’s Time-Warner Center to talk about how the internet is reshaping our politics.
The Personal Democracy Forum was, not surprisingly, an Obama friendly crowd, serious about using online tools to reinvigorate (or, in the conference’s phrasing, “reboot”) our government and boost civic participation.
From time to time, the conference organizers gave away a free Nokia phone by drawing business cards out of a candy bowl. Just before the closing plenary (“Redefining Leadership in a Networked Age”) they promised that a true “celebrity” of the intersection internet and politics would take the stage to choose the final winner.
And who sauntered out from the shadows?
Wearing a formfitting orange top and white Capri pants, she gave a beauty-queen smile and wave to rather modest applause. Someone sitting a few rows in front of me raised his hands and shook his head as if to ask “What the hell?”
Why the cool reception? Maybe it’s because Obama Girl, despite starring in a nominally-political video viewed by millions, isn’t exactly a model of civic participation herself, having failed to vote for Obama (or anyone else) in the Democratic primary. And here’s how the conference’s own blog suggested—over three months before the conference!—that her welcome had worn out:
“Maybe it’s time to hang up the hotpants.”