Before conventions were televised, the interesting politicking - actually voting for the different candidates, the campaigning, the twisting of arms, the caucusing, etc., all went on behind the scenes. Now the actual political work takes place in the months beforehand, during the primary season.
But there is still a lot of interesting work going on behind the scenes. Bloggers have set up a "Big Tent," just for bloggers, with some panel discussions. I'm not there because I didn't want to pay for it, but it's a new innovation for this kind of event. There are all kinds of media here; 15,000 journalists. MSNBC has part of a parking lot as its own little studio. The Daily Show is here.
Then there are the t-shirts. Dozens, if not hundreds, of different t-shirts are on sale all over the place. Some of them are even official, DNC-licensed t-shirts. And, of course, there are buttons and hats and other paraphernalia.
Panel discussions abound, on all kinds of topics. Passionate about infrastructure, Hispanic outreach, women's issues? There's a roundtable for you and several hundred of your closest ideological allies.
So while America watches speeches, some of which are actually interesting, many of which cannot be differentiated from one another, behind the scenes, connections are being formed, money is being made, ideas are being discussed and critiqued. What shows up on TV is the tip of the tip of the iceberg. And just a tiny bit of that tip of the iceberg will matter in the grand scheme of things. But that small fraction of that tip of the iceberg will determine the course of American history.