The idea was to provide a spot where local candidates could debate with one another, answer questions put to them by their future constituents, publish their platforms and programs, and raise money. This small group of political naives included a couple of Democrats, a pair of Republicans, a Libertarian and two computer wizards with anarchic tendencies.
We helped any candidate of any party who wanted to come and participate.
We had this great idea that the site would open up the political process. We thought the pols would love it. Not only were we ahead of the curve, there wasn’t even a curve. Basically we gave a party and no one came.
The idea that the pols might actually have to interface with the voters was fairly scary.
Now ten years later everyone has a campaign web site, but they are essentially one-way sites. They tell you how happy the candidate would be to hear from you, and it is simplicity itself to donate money, but there is no place to publicly ask a question and read a candidate’s reply. There is no forum in which the candidates debate, or simply discuss the issues of the day with one another.
Dean is still the only candidate who really mastered the use of the web. The long open threads were a place where supporters could be heard and criticisms of the campaign voiced.
If Latas, Giffords, and Weiss opened up their web pages, and publicly responded to complaints, criticisms, and objections by their fellow candidates and their constituents it would radically democratize the process of running or office. It would also significantly reduce the cost of running for office.
But don't hold your breath.