Tech-shy Tea Party
The conservative movement's members are networking in Nashville, but will they struggle to stay in touch?
The Tea Party movement does not have one, single leader. And that's just the way the Tea Partiers like it.
Many observers describe them as "disorganised". They prefer to use the word "decentralised".
This movement believes it has several hundred leaders across the country within each county, each district, each state. The Tea Partiers believe one person taking the lead and heading to Washington to represent them would be the death of their cause.
The first ever Tea Party Convention is designed to bring dozens of groups together, to share ideas, connect like-minded people and work out where to take the movement from here.
But after a day milling around the hallways, sitting in on formal sessions and eavesdropping on Tea Partiers, it has become clear to me that, for the majority of them, keeping in touch is going to take some extra effort. Why? Because they're not savvy about networking on the world wide web.
One of the most marked characteristics of today's generation is its vast, everyday use of the internet. Facebook, twitter, myspace, blogs, dating websites - it's easy to stay plugged in 24 hours a day.
But the average age of people at this convention is easily above 50 years old and for many, using a computer is still a challenge.
At a session called "How to Unite State Tea Party Groups", the speaker slowly and deliberately guided the audience through a basic web search.
"In the space at the top of the computer, type in w-w-w-g-o-o-g-l-e dot c-o-m. That website will help you find what tea party groups near you. Then type, Florida Tea Party, then hit the Enter button on your keyboard."
It was a slow, painstaking process. He had to repeat himself many times, as some could not keep up; others simply couldn't hear him because their hearing aids were too low.
What the Tea Partiers may lack in internet skills, they more than make up for it with enthusiasm and passion for their cause.
This is a highly motivated, ready-built movement, determined to shake up the political landscape in the United States. And if they can't find their fellow patriots online, all is not lost.
At the end of his "how-to" seminar, the speaker said, "Listen, if y'all can't find your local tea party groups, just go to your local gun store. They'll tell you where they are."