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Campaigns tread carefully into world of Web 2.0

Editor’s Note: This article was originally published at Computerworld.com.

Presidential candidates have discovered that being on the Web means more than posting a few glitzy pictures, speech transcripts and an “e-mail me” link.

Hoping to tap into the growing popularity of Web 2.0 applications like blogs and popular social networking sites like MySpace and YouTube, several of the candidates are gravitating toward such technology to garner support and raise money. At the same time, campaigns acknowledge that such efforts are not without substantial risk.

Therefore, observers note, these efforts aren’t likely to result in the type of strong Web 2.0 applications that Web-savvy users have become accustomed to. For example, most campaigns aren’t expected to fully open their blogs for the quick, public postings available to readers of many other popular sites today. Observers note that political campaigns must tread carefully, noting the firestorm of criticism aimed at Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards last week because of comments about religion made by two of his campaign’s bloggers.

Most campaigns are struggling with “how do you leverage Web 2.0 and true communities online while maintaining some control over your candidate,” said Julie Barko Germany, deputy director of the Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet at George Washington University in Washington. “[Campaigns] want to be able to influence how people perceive their candidate.”

Thus, she said, most campaigns will post carefully crafted campaign messages themselves. “The race to the White House in 2008 will be all about how candidates talk to people online,” she added.

Read the rest of the article.

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