Notification, Everywhere

The multiple strands of the Sarah Palin Chronicles* are littered with notification relevant tidbits. The McCain campaign insists that they knew all about the pregnancy and the ethics investigation and who knows what else when he made his selection. There’s a practical issue here, of course, in the question of how careful the prospective VP was vetted and how careful the candidate was in making the selection. The relational dimensions of notification, though, come out too. McCain cannot be seen to be caught by surprise by the news because that means he was out of the loop — secrets were kept from him, Palin, et al. talked with him and failed to mention something that he’d pretty obviously want to know.

What’s interesting is how enthusiastically they are all saying “we knew it all ahead of time” because this DOES make them seem a little lacking in the judgment realm. Did they not think it would become a big distraction? Did they not think that it would put the poor kid in a harsh and nasty spotlight**? The obviousness of these downsides underlines the symbolic importance of being in the loop; they’d rather expose their judgment to question than to appear to have been blindsided.

Another notification dimension comes up in news reports as investigators try hard to determine when and how McCain found out about the daughter’s pregnancy. Again, there is an instrumental, legal angle here (the classic “what did he know and when did he know it?”), but reporters are also trying to learn something about the campaign organization and the organization of the VP selection process. The handling of information, who is told what by whom when, and the patterns of secret keeping tell us a lot about an organization.

* For example: “Disclosures on Palin Raise Questions on Vetting Process” by Elisabeth Bumiller, “The Caucus: Palin Dominates Convention Talk” by Kate Phillips and Michael Falcone

**No doubt many will simply fault the press for being unscrupulous, but they should stop and think about how the conservative media would have been all over a similar turn of events had it concerned the Democrats?

Author: Dan Ryan

I've been an Academic Program Director at, a professor at University of Toronto, University of Southern California, and Mills College teaching things like human centered design, computational thinking, modeling for policy sciences, and social theory. My current mission is to figure out how to reorganize higher education and exploit technology so that we can teach twice as many twice as well twice as easily.

One thought on “Notification, Everywhere”

  1. Congratulations for your blog. First i say sorry because i speak english very bad (cause i´m spanish).Your blog is very interesting. I think that your analysis are very great.see you.

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