Tuesday, January 20, 2009

# Posted 12:01 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

MY INAUGURAL POST (AT CONVENTIONAL FOLLY): Hello. What Conventional Folly really needed was a third blogger named David, so here I am. Now let me tell you a bit a where I was before. From April 2008 through election day, I was part of the foreign policy and national security staff for McCain-Palin 2008. It was educational, to say the least. Before joining the campaign, I was a policy analyst working mainly on defense issues. The most challenging part of that job was the four-month rotation I did in Iraq, where I did research on improvised explosive devices (IEDs), the number one killer of American troops.

While on the campaign, I also took leave from OxBlog, where I started blogging more than six years ago. It's pretty amazing how much the blogosphere has changed since then. In 2002, the word 'blog' was still an anomaly that had to explained to your friends. In fact, I didn't even know what a blog was until one of my classmates in grad school explained it to me, shortly before I joined OxBlog. He told me that hundreds of complete strangers went online every day to see what he wrote. Sometimes thousands. That sounded crazy, but I couldn't resist an audience. Writing a doctoral dissertation leads one down some pretty esoteric paths, so it was great to have the opportunity to discuss public events online.

IMHO, the most important change in the blogosphere since the early days is the rapid rise of blogging as an essential medium for professional journalists with the most prestigious jobs in their field. In the good old days, those same professionals tended to look down on bloggers as amateurs who probably wore pajamas while posting from their basements. Today, presidential campaign staffs monitor leading blogs throughout the day. The interesting thing is that almost all the blogs we followed on the McCain campaign were published by major media outlets, principally the major broadcast networks and Politico. The pajama-clad amateurs were barely on the radar.

One partial -- but critical -- exception to this trend is RealClearPolitics. Back in 2004, around fifteen blogs were invited to each of the conventions. I went to the GOP convention on behalf of OxBlog. At the convention, at a folding table in a hallway in Madison Square Garden, I sat next to Tom Bevan, one of the founders of RCP. When I went home after the election, I got addicted right away. Although I liked RCP's blog, its compilation of essential reading and new polling data were a breakthrough. The NY Times, Washington Post and other major media outlets have great website, but their business model forbids them from providing access to anyone else's content. RCP broke down that artificial wall, making itself indispensable Throughout the campaign, RCP was the homepage for our campaign's director for foreign policy and national security.

After nine months away, it's great to be back in the blogosphere. Many thanks to rest of the team at Conventional Folly and DoubleThink for bringing me aboard. This is gonna be great.


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