3 posts categorized "Current Affairs"

11/05/2008 Election 2008 and Online

Two really interesting and perhaps game changing trends emerged in this election: the way we used online to follow and participate in this election and the way Barack Obama used the online channel.

Ariana Huffington of the Huffington Post declared, a few days ago, the Internet the winner of the vote . She’s right. I’m finally weaning myself from my addiction to dailykos.com, realclearpolitics.com and others. What’s really interesting, though, are the novel ways everyone was using the Web, from Twitter alerts of voting irregularities to PBS sending out digital video cameras to people to document the vote on YouTube on the Video Your Vote Channel . I was able to even pretend I was John King of CNN last night, digging into county voting in Indiana in real time.


Amazing. It was truly amazing.

But, not the most amazing.

There are a lot of articles about Obama and his use of the online media. He took what Howard Dean started and elevated it 100-fold. Yes he was great at raising money and communicating and the ring tones, and, all of it.

But the most astounding thing they did, in my opinion, was to set up ways to connect with voters through the Web. I spent the last weekend calling voters in Ohio, New Hampshire and Colorado. I did this despite the fact that I never spoke to an Obama rep nor did I ever visit Obama headquarters. What they did was make my house an ersatz headquarters.

And it was all online. I signed up at my.barackobama.com, I chose my state, I got my calling list, I received a script, and I registered the results of the calls in real time. What an incredibly efficient operation. The Obama campaign was then able to track everything through Web analytics and have clear, actionable intelligence.

Whew! Think if businesses could do this. The Obama campaign showed what this channel could do. And everyone else experimented and won. We won.

And for those who think TV is going away, think again. It was rather the combination of the old media outlets and the new that made this election so great.

10/08/2008 Start Schlepping

If you haven’t heard about this, the Jewish Council for Education and Research has launched a social media campaign for Barack Obama. It’s called the Great Schlep (http://www.thegreatschlep.com). The core of the campaign is a very funny video by Sarah Silverman with one aim: Get your grandparents to vote for Obama.

What a very smart use of social media:

  • It’s simple.  The site has 3 pages, total.
  • It shares the burden. It uses other sites like Facebook, Cafepress and Actblue to do what they do best.
  • It uses humor. The best pass-along element there is. And also one of the most effective ways of explaining complicated problems.


The Great Schlep has over 18,000 fans on Facebook, it’s generated almost 2,000 blog posts according to Technorati. And there are pages and pages of Tweets on Twitter.

It will be interesting to see how many people actually connect with their Nanas, but if the recent polling is right, maybe its already having an effect.

This is just a very smart campaign. It knew its audience. It used existing social media tools rather than trying to build everything on its own, and connected them all together. And it sprung from a great idea, perfectly executed.

This is a good primer for anyone planning a social media campaign.

09/12/2008 Internet killed the Propaganda Star? Not.

Seth Godin got me thinking with his post “Spin” about the current political campaign.

I always believed that the Web would end the Propaganda Age. To me, this age began with modern 20th century mass communication. Fascists and dictators started and developed the new mass propaganda in the 30’s and 40’s (Hitler and Stalin). Democracies refined and finessed it (“Duck and Cover”). The free market ultimately exploited it (The 30 second spot of the 60’s).Propaganda2

In the past, democracies protected themselves against propaganda by a strong 4th estate in news journalists. Communist countries had no such luck. I’m reminded of the old Soviet joke: In Pravda there is no Tass (“News”); in Tass there is no Pravda (“Truth”).

Today our news journalists seem more like entertainers, coveting the advertising dollars to keep them afloat.

While propaganda isn’t going out the window, the Web and the information age were supposed to provide enough knowledge to make us powerful enough to defend ourselves against it. By empowering and engaging individual people, we would be strong enough collectively to fight back. I think this has happened on the commercial side of life. Discussion boards, blogs, personal reviews and even Twitter have given consumers a truer picture of products, services and everyday life. We now have a vast network to consult with for every purchase or decision imaginable. What a dream come true!

But a look at the current political season shows that propaganda is alive and well. The Big Lie machine developed in the 30’s has reared its ugly head throughout the first part of this century. While we get heroes like John Stewart fighting against this, the major broadcasters continue to chase the money and regurgitate the propaganda.

Right now the Web doesn’t seem like it’s enough to combat this, unfortunately. Whether that’s due to micro fragmentation or something else is the big question.

Is the Web incapable of harnessing mass movement because at its core it’s a personal, one-to-one experience? Is engagement only possible online to move small crowds, but not large ones?

Why should an unknown person influence what car I buy but not whom I vote for?

Right now, it feels pretty depressing.

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