FAQ: All About Documenting-Democracy.org
Q: What is Documenting-Democracy.org?
A: Documenting Democracy is a website that brings together photographs, news, essays and Internet resources of interest to Virginia
Democrats. Operating in the form of a weblog (commonly called a blog), DocDem works as a tool for rapidly communicating news and
ideas. The gathering of information from a wide range of sources and in forms ranging from the written word to photos and
video will, when taken as a whole, achieve our goal of documenting democracy in Virginia.
Q: How did the site get started?
A: As the author, allow me to briefly switch the voice of this FAQ into the first person. My name is Aaron Mahler and I'm a
Democrat in Virginia's sixth congressional district, more specifically Sweet Briar in the county of Amherst. I've been a
Democrat in spirit all of my short life (30 years at the time of this writing). Like many, I reflect the political leanings of
my upbringing yet live in an area of the state known more for its conservative atmosphere.
As a professional programmer and network engineer, much of my world is very technology-centric. The Internet is at the very
heart of much of what I do and therefore an enormous influence on how I get information and communicate with others. Anyone who
spends much time online knows that your resources for news, debate, discussion and coordination of activism are vastly larger
than what might otherwise exist around you socially (and geographically).
Fast forward through the horror of the 2000 election, 9/11, and the War in Iraq (to name just a few elements). I reached the
inevitable point where my frustration propelled me out of my virtual cocoon and into the real world. My wife and I formally joined the
Democratic party locally. We began attending meetings where we started to interact with a small but inviting group of
passionate people that are similarly disenchanted with where things are headed. I became a delegate to our district and then
state conventions and, along the way, began putting one of my favorite hobbies to good use: photography. Digital photography,
of course... go figure. :)
What is happening here boils down to a passionate child of the digital generation finding common ground and a warm invitation
into the Democratic party. This is a diverse group of people ranging from kindred sprits in the world of technology to icons of
politicking in the most traditional, hands-on sense who have never needed the web or e-mail to make a difference in people's
I was thrilled to find that my photographs were warmly received and, in some cases, filled a void I did not realize existed.
The most obvious and rapid means of distribution for me was, of course, the web. In very short order I was taking more
photographs and attending more events to try to capture not only the activities, but the people, the spirit and the
emotions. It was also rapidly becoming a very collaborative process as I made new friends who mixed my photos into their
writing, helped with captions, and went with me to events so we could cover more and more ground. In just over a month I found
my photos being used locally, regionally and statewide in both print and digital form, shared between friends, attached to
journalistic pieces and used by several Democratic candidates for their campaign materials.
I began thinking about this site to, at the very least, address my need for a good online means of making my photography
available for others to use. Some of the people I have been collaborating with on the photography had been expressing a desire
to do more writing but were unsure of how to make it available to a wider audience online. I had been thinking a lot about the
parallel nature of our various pursuits and how, collectively, they served as a historic record of sorts. Bringing it all together
under one name that would apply equally to all of our work led me to come up with the name, Documenting Democracy.
I'll save the specifics of how the site works from a technical perspective for a separate question in this FAQ (for those that
are interested). I hope this somewhat long-winded answer, however, offers some perspective on its origins.
Q: Who operates the website?
A: The Documenting Democracy site was built and is maintained by Aaron Mahler. Documenting Democracy is the name coined for
the website and does not represent a non-profit or other entity. Participants in the blog are private individuals.
The blog is a forum for the words and experiences of many people active in the Democratic party at all levels. Furthermore,
Documenting Democracy does not speak for or represent the views of any host site, ISP, or Aaron Mahler's employer.
Q: I have something I'd like to submit to Documenting Democracy.
A: Send any submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. A link to this can also be found in the About box on the bottom left corner of
any page of most pages of the website. We will do our best to handle your requests.
Q: I (think you guys are fantastic) OR (think you're the worst thing to happen since the plague). How do I share these
views with you?
A: You can send us email to any of our specific addresses as they appear through the site (mostly on blog entries in the
footer) or overall to email@example.com.
Many more questions and answers to come, so keep checking back...