A few random thoughts on this.  I don't think one can really say that
hack4dean has hashed this out, or that it is necessarily all that clear cut.
Being a big fan of self organizing systems, it seems to me that what we have
is a self organized system of hackers.  Some part of the group is very eager
to work with the campaign.  Perhaps another part is as eager to work outside
of the campaign, and probably a third group is somewhat indifferent.

Personally, I have one primary goal.  That is to get Howard Dean elected
President.  I will do everything I can to make that happen.  To the extent
that involves working on some 'official' part of the campaign, I will do it.
To the extent it involves throwing up webpages from my home site, hacking
some code, putting a bumpersticker on my car, wearing a button, and handing
out leaflets where ever I go, I will do that too.

I hope that this is the attitude of most of the people here.

That said, I also am a programmer, and a social scientist.  I am eager to
develop tools that will further the cause of democracy globally and to write
about the social implication of such tools.  I imagine most people here are
eager to see tools that further the cause of democracy developed, and we
will work on this as much as possible within the campaign, and continue to
work on this beyond the campaign.

I hope that this is reflects not only my thoughts, but the thoughts of
others here as well.


-----Original Message-----
Behalf Of Zephyr Teachout
Sent: Wednesday, July 23, 2003 12:46 PM
Subject: RE: [hackers] Re: Legal Issues and dodo birds

Hey CMR:

I was under the (perhaps mis)apprehension that all this had been hashed
out with the hackers, but it sounds like it may not have been. Of course
it's a tough choice. You guys have two choices, really:

(1) work w/the campaign
(2) work outside the campaign

We're not indifferent to what you decide to do -- the opposite, really
(you are a complete godsend, and can transform the campaign) -- but
completely respect whatever you decide upon. It is your choice.

I see the main advantage of working with the campaign being, from a
political point of view, that the work you are doing can not only win
the presidency but transform politics. Because there is a driver behind
it -- Dean -- it will grow exponentially.

The main disadvantage is that HQ ultimately has to make final decisions
on content, presentation, and legal issues. The legal issues come up
throughout, because they are the hammer of the conservatives. The
content and presentation come up as the project nears completion. The
closer we work together, the easier it will be to take the project
immediately into the public sphere.

We at HQ are committed to building a kit that allows decentralized,
bottom up creativity and communication. We want to build something that
allows each Dean site to control its own content and still be connected
to the movements of the campaign, official and unofficial. That kit,
perversely, as the expression of the campaign's commitment, is extremely
important -- in legal as well as message presentation.

I REALLY REALLY hope you decide (or affirm, if it is already decided) to
work with us. It will be very hard for us to do it another way. I
believe, personally, that the functionality built here will take off and
be used to transform politics altogether, but that Dean is the driving
force that will allow it to happen -- and our coordination, and a close
connection to the campaign, will be the synergy necessary to make it
work. In my vision, Howard Dean will not just mention Meetups on the
stump, but setting up Dean Community Sites. I really believe this is the
next phase of the revolution -- and I'm sorry if you're feeling some of
the constraints, but I hope you decide that they are worth it.

Thanks so much,


Zephyr Teachout
Internet Organizing & Outreach
Dean for America

Meetup at http://www.deanforamerica.com/meetup
Get local at http://action.deanforamerica.com
Contribute at http://www.deanforamerica.com/contribute

-----Original Message-----
On Behalf Of CMR
Sent: Wednesday, July 23, 2003 10:49 AM
Subject: [hackers] Re: Legal Issues and dodo birds

> I talked to our lawyer again and he urged me STRONGLY to please ask
> guys not to deal with legal issues. This is different than Meetup
> where people are looking for legal advice as independent groups, and
> coordinated with the campaign. Since we're working together, and
> building a product the campaign will offer as a service, it is
> that all legal decisions be made by Eric.

Observation time boys and girls:

As this thread develops, I think it's becoming clear just what the
difference is in becoming a movement "of Dean"  as opposed to one "for
Dean". I'm not passing judgment here, but just making the observation
ceding the independence of the project, and subsequently it's ultimate
nature and function, comes at a "price".As do all choices.

We've reached (and passed?) a crossroads here. Coordinating with
in a evermore "intimate" manner way well be the optimal path to follow
this juncture, but that's a judgment call; anyone who says it's not, is
being disingenuous. We (or some of us, in any case) have become
and that's a seductive experience indeed. But players often are required
play by someone else's rules. Nothing wrong with that, right? Got to
rules, after all.

Thing is, I recall Zack's first posts regarding this "vision" on the
coffeehouse list. He was carrying on about decentralized organic
and reeds law and so forth... I could hear the eyes roll. But he got my
attention because I see the cosmos as an "organic", adaptive,
interconnected thing. A complex open self-organizing system so to speak.
the thing about open systems is that you start with some very simple
rules and then you get out of the way. It'll make it's own rules from
on and if you try constrain it with boxes, or walls or straight lines
either overwhelm you or it'll die. But what it won't be is the same.

My rather circuitous point here is simply that by choosing to directly
the project into the Dean organization, we lose some of that
self-sustaining, and, yes, self-organizing character; for better or ill.

One of the initial threads-become-firestorm was about the true meaning
hacking, remember? I was first educated, then convinced, that the label
meant something very important to many of those involved. Well, based on
recently corrected definition, we're now less about hacking and more
"suits". And perhaps that's in fact the best outcome we could ever have
hoped for; perhaps not. I really don't know. I just know we've started
a new path here and it feels different.

What I do know is that, given this linkage, if Dean isn't nominated the
movement will be a different "animal" then if it had remained
and it'll be standing around wondering what to do next. Will it be
generalized and adaptive enough to redefine itself, grow and prosper? Or
will the constraints it "bought" by tying it's fortunes (and helm) to a
(the?) man render it too "specialized" to morph and thus extinct?

I don't know. I just read between the lines and thought I'd make an
observation. Read it, delete it, advise me to take my medication...
whatever. But think about it a bit, then put the shoulder once again to


<--enter gratuitous quotation that implies my profundity here-->

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