On the Conservation of Content

There isn’t enough time.

That’s one thing that becomes abundantly apparent within your first
few hours of CPAC.  There’s a ton of people to meet and things to
see, but very little time to accomplish all you’d like, particularly if
watching a speech or going to a panel is on your list.

That problem is heightened when you realize that it’s not just YOUR
time that there isn’t enough of. Guest speakers and panelists only have
so much time, so once they’re done with their respective jobs, they’re
off and doing whatever else it is that guest speakers and panelists do.

It’s not like these guys are real people, right?

Regardless, that time crunch is, one has to imagine, the reason behind CPAC’s aggravatingly overlapped event schedule.

That means that the onus is on you, the CPAC attendee, to make the choice between “Social Media 3.0” or “Ideas to Unite America” panels.

And that’s kind of the problem.

I don’t know about you guys, but when I am offered a choice between something I love (e.g. chicken murphy tacos, pictured below) and something I’m ambivalent about (e.g. tofu, not pictured) I will quite often pick the thing I love.

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Like “99.9999% of the time” often.

That admission kind of flies in the face of the whole “don’t get
comfortable” theme here at FRN, but it’s a fact of life. People
generally prefer to go to things that they like, or have some interest
in over stuff that they don’t.

So, why is this a bad thing?

Well, in the case of CPAC panels, it means you get self-selected audiences.

For example, when SomethingFishie and I attended the “Rocky Mountain High”
panel on the current pot legalization experiments going on in
Washington and Colorado, it was extremely apparent that the people who
showed up were pretty well ensconced in their positions. You could tell
just from the audience’s mumbles how many pro or anti legalization folks
were present.

In this case, it was an overwhelmingly pro-legalization crowd.

That, sadly, made for a very lopsided question and answer period.

The anti-legalization guy, Chris Beach,
was peppered with difficult question after difficult question, bobbing
and weaving throughout, even managing to attempt some
less-than-effective counter-punches… However, during that same Q&A, Mary Katherine Ham on the pro-legalization side had maybe two or three questions that warranted answers longer than “I’m with you!”.  And that’s being generous.

This polarized turnout turned what could have been an interesting learning experience for many, many, CPAC goers, into the physical manifestation of an anti-legalization article posted on a pro-legalization subreddit– complete with downvotes.

The mass of people who actually might have learned something, or
further developed their views on the subject just weren’t there.

That’s what happens when you have a million different things going on
at the same time: great content falls through the cracks and people who
might have benefited from it are denied access.

Depressing, huh?

Well, there is some good news on that front: all of the panels from this year’s CPAC were diligently recorded and uploaded to YouTube, where people can watch them at their leisure.

But again, that self-selection bias is going to strike.

If you don’t think too much about criminal justice reform, chances are you aren’t going to watch the extremely important panel on the subject.

Unless you knew that Rick Perry was on it, that is.

Or maybe Grover Norquist is the reason you’re drawn to it?

Both of those crowd-pleasers  were on the enthralling panel,
talking about an issue that could open our movement up to countless new
people, enable families to stay whole, and save lives!  An issue
that could shift the entire political landscape!

But if you were at CPAC, the only way you’d know about it was if you
had the CPAC 2014 app on your phone and were inclined to find out what
was happening at that particular moment in time.

There were no monitors with schedules on them, nor was there any
other form of advertising for these events.  You either knew about
them, or you didn’t.  That led to even smaller turnouts, consisting
of only the nerdiest of conservative nerds.

And as much as I enjoy being a part of that select group, that kind of barrier for information isn’t good for our movement.

We need the people who aren’t aware of what exactly “metadata” is, or why protecting ours matters, to see the Death of Privacy panel.

We need those of us who aren’t informed on what’s going on in Crimea to watch the Future of Ukraine panel.

We need Libertarians and Social Conservatives to KNOW THAT THERE’S A PANEL ABOUT THEM COOPERATING!

But judging by the view counts on these videos, it’s just not happening.

And that’s why I wrote this piece, to “Raise Awareness”.

Hopefully, of the however-many people who’ll read this article, at
least a few of you will take the time to watch a panel or even just a
bit of one, and share it with your friends.  Ask them what they
think of the discussion, get them involved!

Because we don’t have enough time to waste this precious content,
created by people on the frontier of the conservative movement and
brought together, no matter how haphazardly, by the ACU.

Besides, if we were interested in wasting time, we’d be Democrats.