I was graciously invited to a roundtable discussion with Senator Edwards the other day. I spent the entire alloted hour sitting grumpily with my arms crossed.
There was a formidable amount of insight and talent in the room but I'm not sure of how much use it was to Edwards. Most of the questions Senator Edwards posed revolved around leveraging technology to reach Americans and to galvanize them to affect political change. Most of the ensuing discussion revolved around technology policy. If the take away was that in order for Senator Edwards to leverage technology and technologists skills he should endorse reasonable technology legislation than I'm not sure if much was accomplished
We had a lot of success on the Dean campaign leveraging the talents and insights of domain experts towards the goals of the campaign. We ended up getting a fair amount of bad or impractical advice but by and large we were effective in filtering out the useless and honing in on the important. Primarily this was because we grounded everything we did and invested in to our community of constituents and to the goals of the campaign. When things on the campaign got really crazy we had a firehouse of experts and their advice available - and we ignored most of it.
Our community itself was our filter and it successfully incubated thousands of ideas concurrently. The best bubbled up to the surface and the rest were never heard of, and thats why we were successful. The dean campaign wasn't magic created by whiz bang technology, it was simply the most focused and comprehensive community organizing effort we've ever seen. And the technology itself was an afterthought. DFA was by and large powered by Convio, Meetup.com and Yahoo Groups.