Here's the dumbest thing I've heard in a long time.
Listening to NPR at about 6:30, Andrew Zolli, a so-called "futurist", endorsed Joe Trippi's idea that in 2008 we could have three presidential candidates - a Democrat, a Republican and "an Internet candidate."
I have to ask: what the hell does that mean? Almost everyone who's had significant online fundraising success in politics has done it by appealing to partisans, who by definition are loyal to a party. And even if the "Internet candidate" could raise $100 million, we have this little thing in political science called Duverger's Law. As the introductory political science text I teach to freshman puts it, "In any election where a single winner is chosen by plurality vote (whoever gets the most votes wins), there is a strong tendency for serious competitors to be reduced to two because people tend to vote strategically." Why would we expect a third-party challenge to overcome this dynamic? The two parties have vast advantages in financial resources, mobilization, and voter loyalty. To convince people you could win, you'd have to create an inordinate amount of momentum. And to do so, you'd have to have a constituency that supported you -- the Internet is not an ideology or a voting bloc. What Zolli is saying is equivalent to claiming in 1960 that the next election would feature a Republican, a Democrat, and a TV candidate.
In fact, the lesson from this election is that the parties and major party candidates are adopting the Internet into their playbook, just as big business did a few years ago. Technology hasn't repealed the laws of politics, just as it didn't repeal the laws of business. Zolli is essentially selling the Internet bubble in a new guise.
The moral of the story: don't hire a futurist to do a political scientist's job.
(PS It is true that the Internet makes it easier to create parallel quasi-parties like America Coming Together - a phenomenon Matt Bai covered in The New York Times Magazine back in July.)