launched (Ye olde text campaign archives)

Back in 2005 I found myself looking through the Dean blog archives and noticed that they’d gone missing for a time (they’re back now– with some comments missing here and there– I know because I have a 500MB copy of it.) In 2006, I poked around the early DailyKos/MyDD archives, and was frustrated with how difficult they were to navigate (compound by the fact that the early MyDD posts are only in the Internet Archive). I did some more copying & cataloguing, and that summer got in touch with a number of folks around the country working on digital archives. I wanted to put together some navigable interfaces to these archives, and host it on a different website, but I shelved it before finishing the last 10% of the work.

A couple of present-day motivated me to get this completed this weekend. First, there was the hard disk crash of last month, which gave me a jolt about the ephemerality of neglected bits . (If the data hadn’t been covered, I would likely have never returned to this project). Second, I had the opportunity last week to give a customer training workshop at Perot Systems in Plano, Texas. The headquarters for Perot Systems is like few other– the hallways are lined with various collections, from Texas artifacts, to US Armed Forces pieces, to memorabilia from Ross Perot’s presidential runs (including a wall of deficit charts), and, the prized centerpiece, the parachute used by the dummy cosmonaut before Yuri Gagarin’s historic flight. As a history buff, I couldn’t help but marvel at all of the curatorial work (though I had to stay marveled, since we didn’t have enough time to take a slow tour of the building.)

So here’s my own contribution to political collections: CampaignTrails. With this link I summon the search engine spiders to begin indexing… There was a temptation to slap up Google AdSense and watch the nickels roll in, but I thought it best to leave this as a nonprofit educational effort. Perhaps others may have digital archives to add to the collection.

It comprises some catalogs (DailyKos and DeanNation) as well as collections (the MyDD and 1992 Marist email lists). Lee Sakkas, my contact at Marist College, shot me a quick question about the evolution of campaigns, up to Obama, and I confessed that I hadn’t looked through the data yet! What struck me how much 2002 still resembled 1992 in the dependence on text (grant that 1992 was still in the pre-web, pre-hyperlink era). On a whim I finally got around to watching “Obama Girl” on YouTube, which now gives me a better sense of some part of his support! The comment was made in 2006 cycle how viral video KO’ed the, for want of a more generic word, typists—  who were still stuck locking horns with some tiny party of antagonists. Ye olde text campaigns indeed.

Well, all that text is now their to be indexed, and after Google gets around to it, I’ll have more thoughts. And I do have a short report to come on some interesting things I gleaned from the Dean blog archives…