Barack Obama and the Future of Publishing

June 5th, 2008

As I watched the news reports on Tuesday evening indicating

that Barack Obama had captured the Democratic nomination for president, I

quipped to myself, “Time for a new blog entry called ‘Barack Obama and the

Future of Publishing’.” But, I thought, I didn’t recall publishing as a theme

of his campaign — I couldn’t recall Obama mentioning the “p” word once.

Google has 1,310 entries for “Barack Obama” AND “the

future of publishing,” and 434,000 entries for “Barack Obama” AND “publishing.”

I’ll admit I didn’t read them all, but the focus was that Mr. Obama had written

two bestselling books, and a slew of new books about him are now anticipated.

Finally today it dawned on me: Barack Obama may not have

talked about publishing or where it’s headed. Instead he demonstrated from the

first day of his campaign that he understands the future of publishing and put

that understanding into robust practice. As a Wired blog

headlined it on June 3rd, “Obama, Propelled by the Net, Wins

Democratic Nomination.”

The blog entry states it bluntly: “Obama owes his victory

to the internet.” I agree. When you look at the strength of his main

challenger, Hillary Clinton, as they headed out of the primary gate, it seemed

impossible that Obama would gain the nomination. His margin of victory was not

huge. But what other single factor can be established as the reason for his

victory than the remarkable use of the full power of social networking, singularly

enabled by the Internet?

There’s some very good coverage of the mechanisms by

which all of this was put into place, so I won’t repeat them here. To

understand this extraordinary moment in the future of publishing, examine these


1. CIOZone: “The Difference” (with good information on the technologies


2. BBC News: “Internet Key to Obama


3. Rolling Stone magazine: “The Machinery of


4. Business Week: “On

the Web, Obama Is the Clear Winner”


commentators claim that this will change how all future political campaigns are

conducted. I believe that Obama’s faith in the technology was primal, and unique

to a younger generation of politicians. The old guard will continue to lack his

deep understanding and will remain unable to repeat this triumph of utilizing

available publishing technology to its maximum advantage.