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When, Exactly, Did Politics Become a Tech Story?

So when, a dozen years before Occupy Wall Street, the antiglobalization movement used digital tools to organize an enormous protest march against a World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle, the event didn’t seem like a tech story. Present-day WIRED would have covered these protests. That’s not to say early WIRED never covered the future of politics. At EFF board meetings, there was idle talk about “reclaiming Washington,” “putting the science back into political science,” and building a Net political party that would make centralized government obsolete. Two years later, in 1996, Rogier Van Bakiel writes about the “stunning repudiation” of the EFF in “How Good People Helped Make a Bad Law.” The EFF had set up a DC office, offering their expertise to help Congress and the Clinton administration work out the details of the 1994 Digital Telephony Bill. After the twin shocks of the dotcom bust and the September 11 attacks, WIRED’s approach to political coverage changed. These were the years when I started reading WIRED. Gary Wolf’s 2004 article “How the Internet Invented Howard Dean” made the compelling case that Dean’s meteoric rise was rooted in the promise and possibility of online communities. Suddenly, technologists started taking the problems of governance and politics more seriously. You can’t write a story about Facebook, Twitter, or Google without writing a story about politics.

When, Exactly, Did Politics Become a Tech Story?

So when, a dozen years before Occupy Wall Street, the antiglobalization movement used digital tools to organize an enormous protest march against a World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle, the event didn’t seem like a tech story. Present-day WIRED would have covered these protests. That’s not to say early WIRED never covered the future of politics. At EFF board meetings, there was idle talk about “reclaiming Washington,” “putting the science back into political science,” and building a Net political party that would make centralized government obsolete. Two years later, in 1996, Rogier Van Bakiel writes about the “stunning repudiation” of the EFF in “How Good People Helped Make a Bad Law.” The EFF had set up a DC office, offering their expertise to help Congress and the Clinton administration work out the details of the 1994 Digital Telephony Bill. After the twin shocks of the dotcom bust and the September 11 attacks, WIRED’s approach to political coverage changed. These were the years when I started reading WIRED. Gary Wolf’s 2004 article “How the Internet Invented Howard Dean” made the compelling case that Dean’s meteoric rise was rooted in the promise and possibility of online communities. Suddenly, technologists started taking the problems of governance and politics more seriously. You can’t write a story about Facebook, Twitter, or Google without writing a story about politics.