"Netroots” (Internet + grassroots) was used in 1993 and 1994, but was popularized in December 2002 by Jerome Armstrong, who then advocated “Netroots for Dean in 2004” (Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean). Armstrong wrote a book with Markos Moulitsas Zúniga (of the Daily Kos blog), titled Crashing the gate: Netroots, grassroots, and the rise of people-powered politics (2005).
The term “netroots,” because of this politically left origin, is usually used to describe politically liberal blogs, sometimes derided as “nutroots.” Netroots Nation (formerly the YearlyKos Convention) is a name that was trademarked at the beginning of 2008. The political right coined its own “netroots"-like term— “rightroots”— in August 2006.
Netroots is a recent term coined to describe political activism organized through blogs and other online media, including wikis and social network services. The word is a portmanteau of Internet and grassroots, reflecting the technological innovations that set netroots techniques apart from other forms of political participation. In the United States, the term is used mainly in left-leaning circles.
The term necessarily overlaps with the related ideas of e-democracy, open politics and participatory democracy, all of which are somewhat more specific, better defined, and more widely accepted. Netroots outreach is a campaign-oriented activity that uses the web for complementing more traditional campaign activities, such as collaborating with grassroots activism that involves get-out-the-vote and organizing through interconnecting local and regional efforts, such as Meetup, and the netroots-grassroots coalition that propeled the election of Howard Dean to the DNC Chair in January, 2005.
Advocates claim that the essential quality of the netroots is its flatness and inter-linked web connectiveness—that it constitutes communication points that reach out to influence traditional media, but is not directed outward from any one point. Through events like a blogswarm, the netroots displays non-hierarchical and decentralized features.
American origins of term
The first popular use of the term in its modern definition is Netroots for Howard Dean, by Jerome Armstrong in December 2002 on MyDD. Democratic political consultant Joe Trippi credits the success of his then-client Howard Dean to their listening and taking the lead from netroots activity.
The netroots also played a key role in drafting General Wesley Clark into the 2004 Presidential campaign. The growing power of the netroots was seen most recently during the 2006 midterm elections. In one such instance, a volunteer for the senate campaign of Democrat James Webb of Virginia filmed remarks by then-Senator George Allen. The remarks in question, in which Senator Allen referred to the volunteer as a “macaca” (the volunteer was of South Asian ethnicity), were viewed by many as being racially insensitive. The video was posted on the popular video-sharing website YouTube. The resulting netroots attention to the video triggered a series of events that resulted in the defeat of the incumbent senator. James Webb had, in fact, been the subject of a successful netroots draft, which resulted in his entry into the Virginia senate race. Netroots activists also supported Ned Lamont in his 2006 primary victory over Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman, wrote Ari Melber in The Nation magazine.
Coverage of several major news controversies have also been attributed to early netroots attention. Amongst these were the remarks made by then-Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott at a birthday celebration for then-Senator Strom Thurmond, the Dubai Ports controversy, the Mark Foley congressional page controversy, and the recent US Attorney controversy. In addition, the recent controversy regarding a Democratic presidential debate sponsored by Fox News, which the left-leaning netroots attempted to stop, ended with the debate being canceled.
In a December 2005 interview with Newsweek magazine, Markos Moulitsas Zúniga, founder of Daily Kos, described the netroots as “the crazy political junkies that hang out in blogs.” He is also the co-author (with Jerome Armstrong) of the book Crashing the Gate: Netroots, Grassroots and the Rise of People-Powered Politics (ISBN 1-931498-99-7).
William Safire explained the term’s origin in the New York Times Magazine on November 19, 2006:
“ ... the Nation’s Web site cited the unabashedly liberal Jerome Armstrong’s praise of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee “for reading blogs and being ready to work with the netroots.” From these citations and a few of the million and a half others in a Google search, the word netroots has a left-of-center connotation. The earliest use I can find is in a Jan. 15, 1993, message on an e-mail list of the Electronic Frontier Foundation from an “rmcdon[ell]” at the University of California at San Diego, apparently complaining about an internal shake-up: “Too bad there’s no netroots organization that can demand more than keyboard accountability from those who claim to be acting on behalf of the ‘greater good.’” ... Popularizer of the term — unaware of the obscure, earlier citation when he used it — was the aforementioned (great old word) Armstrong on his blog, MyDD, on Dec. 18, 2002, as he went to work on the presidential campaign of Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont.... headlined his entry “Netroots for Dean in 2004” and told Internet readers where to get the first inkling of a groundswell: “O.K., so Dean is still polling 1 to 4 percent nationally, so what. Look at the netroots.”
Kossary - dKosopedia
The Internet-based political grassroots movement; in other words, us.
A trendy word beginning to appear in the blogoshpere, especially left wing sites, used to describe political fundraising and campaigning via the internet.
Senate hopeful from Ohio Paul Hackett’s netroots effort in the special election was put together by Tim Tagaris.
“Netroots is an awesome description of my political movement, I can’t wait until that word becomes as cliché, overused, and meaningless as grassroots”
by J Whetz Feb 14, 2006
n. A grassroots movement that uses the Internet to communicate, organize, and raise money. Also: Netroots.
About Netroots Nation
The origin of Netroots Nation is traced to a time when a tremendous and growing number of citizens gathered every day in the virtual world to raise their collective voice and proactively influence their government. That group is broadly called the Netroots and has since grown to include progressive organizations and politicians who use new media technologies to communicate with their constituents.
The convention rebranded to Netroots Nation in 2007 in an effort to more accurately reflect the makeup of its audience and mission of implementing programs that teach and empower Netroots communities to affect change in the public sphere. Past gatherings have included a Presidential Leadership Forum that drew seven Democratic candidates, a surprise visit from Al Gore; an interactive Ask the Speaker session with Nancy Pelosi; and hundreds of panels, roundtables, training sessions, workshops and keynotes.
Google Groups: bit.listserv.words-l
Date: Fri, 15 Jan 1993 11:24:56 +0000
Local: Fri, Jan 15 1993 5:24 am
Subject: Re: Reply to Cliff Figallo
The underlying policy decision leading to reorganization and termination had to have been deliberated by the same people who find other people expendable. Makes you wonder about the underlying policy itself and what effects it might have that such folks would also find “acceptable.” Too bad there’s no netroots organization that can demand more than keyboard accountability from those who claim to be acting on behalf of the “greater good” when they do things like this.
OCLC WorldCat record
Netroots : cultivating the digital park.
Author: Michael Eisenmenger; Public Access TV.; Paper Tiger Television Collective (Firm)
Publisher: New York, NY : Public Access TV : Paper Tiger Television (distributor), [199-]
Edition/Format: VHS video : English
Summary: Describes the need for non-commercial “space” on the information superhighway (or “National Information Infrastructure"), where less economically-advantaged people can access information applicable to their local needs. A truly democratic society will provide universal and free access to the Internet.
Spring 1995, Socialism and Democracy, pg. 151:
New York based Paper Tiger Television ... has pioneered work on progressive uses of the electronic media through its two programs, “Staking a Claim in Cyberspace” and “Netroots: Cultivating Digital Park.”
MyDD: Netroots for Dean in 2004
Netroots For Dean in 2004
Howard Dean has been busy, there are a number of new posts on the Dean 2004 weblog. OK, so Dean is still polling 1-4% nationally, so what. Look at the netroots. Democrats.com has a weekly straw poll. Over the four weeks it’s been done, with Gore included, Dean has finished a cumulative second. Here’s where you go to sign up to vote.
Here’s one of many Democratic Underground threads that have popped up in support of Dean since Gore has dropped out.
JB Armstrong on Dec 18 @ 8:51 PM (2002—ed.)
Take the Million Dollar Meetup Challenge for Dean!
posted by annatopia at Monday, March 10, 2003
This idea started out of the New York Meetup… There are now almost 5,000 members signed up at Meetup.com for Howard Dean. March 31st is the end of the 1st quarter for FEC reporting. As you know, Dean has been getting great press but good press alone won’t win the election.
The challenge is for all of us Meetup.com enthusiasts and netroots fans of Dean to raise a million dollars for Dean’s candidacy by March 31st.
2 June 2003, Kansas City (MO) Star, pg. A1:
Dean campaign develops deep ‘netroots’
MATT STEARNS The Kansas City Star
WASHINGTON - Thurston Cromwell has a computer and a passion—and because of him and thousands like him, presidential politics might never be the same.
OCLC WorldCat record
Crashing the gate : Netroots, grassroots, and the rise of people-powered politics
Author: Jerome Armstrong; Markos Moulitsas Zúniga
Publisher: White River Junction, VT : Chelsea Green Publishing, ©2005.
Edition/Format: Book : English
New York (NY) Times
By WILLIAM SAFIRE
Published: November 19, 2006
From these citations and a few of the million and a half others in a Google search, the word netroots has a left-of-center connotation. The earliest use I can find is in a Jan. 15, 1993, message on an e-mail list of the Electronic Frontier Foundation from an “rmcdon” at the University of California at San Diego, apparently complaining about an internal shake-up: “Too bad there’s no netroots organization that can demand more than keyboard accountability from those who claim to be acting on behalf of the ‘greater good.’ ” (Lesson: Anything you crank out on a computer can come back to haunt you centuries later.)
Popularizer of the term — unaware of the obscure, earlier citation when he used it — was the aforementioned (great old word) Armstrong on his blog, MyDD, on Dec. 18, 2002, as he went to work on the presidential campaign of Gov. Howard Dean of Vermont. The political activist, whose master’s thesis was titled “Applied Linguistics and Conflict Resolution,” headlined his entry “Netroots for Dean in 2004” and told Internet readers where to get the first inkling of a groundswell: “O.K., so Dean is still polling 1 to 4 percent nationally, so what. Look at the netroots.”
Posted: November 20, 2006 11:09 AM
Safire on the Roots of Netroots
Safire goes on to trace the development of grassroots from Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose party, and then quotes Armstrong saying that the “term netroots is ideologically and politically neutral.” I disagree. Armstrong popularized the term, so you may want to take his word, but it seems to me that netroots has developed in the lexicon as a reference to the Internet left - the bloggers, online activists and progressive groups like MoveOn.org that work online for progressive change offline. Many conservative bloggers agree, which is why they’ve staked out their own term, “Rightroots,” and why they try to debase the term netroots as “nutroots” or “radical netroots.” But judging by the impact on politics, we’ll be hearing a lot more about the netroots than the rightroots.
Word Mark NETROOTS NATION
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