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Barack Obama’s Long Tale: BEYOND Dean, BEFORE The Election

Barack Obama must have been taking notes during Howard Dean’s campaign for the 2004 Presidential election.

 

Howard Dean is more than his devastating SCREAM (watch video above) that lost Iowa’s vote before he dropped out of the race. There is no doubt that Dean set the stage for Presidential campaigns today; and, Barack Obama is taking the lead, using online donations, political blogs and social networking. Plus, he’s cool, calm and collected—literally speaking (watch video below).

Barack Obama is clearly using the internet as a major tool in his campaign. Since young, voting-age citizens are likely to be interacting with Web 2.0 platforms today, Obama enjoys the benefit of communicating with a new generation that is underrepresented in the polls. Visitors on his website can register to vote through the homepage, simply by clicking Register To Vote. Obama is obviously investing in the future by utilizing cutting-edge technology to reach people who appreciate constitutional rights and the internet. Obama takes advantage of weblogs (Blogs), real simple syndication (RSS) feeds, social networks, simple message syndication (SMS), mashups and more. Careful not to ignore those who are less advanced in terms of new technology, he gives away free tools to grassroots supporters to pass his message on to Americans in the physical world. Also, Obama uses traditional means of communication, such as television and radio broadcasts, press releases, appearances and speeches on college campuses and other potential voter sites. This report takes a close look at Obama’s strategy to build a strong, unified community using new technology to influence today’s voters who are diving into the world-wide-web.

Obama announced his plan to run for President on January 16, 2007 using Brightcove, an internet TV service used to produce videos and programs, specifically for broadband business to have more choice and control over their products. With Brightcove, a company partnered with a variety of international news and entertainment businesses, Obama can manage video features, rights and distribution, while building a video audience. His pre-launch video can only broadcast with a branded flash-player, but it does allow space for businesses to insert advertisements.

 

The following are key messages in Obama’s pre-launch video:

  • A different kind of politics to enable America to make better decisions and tackle big problems that demand solutions.
  • A focus on working citizens in a changing economy.
  • Lowering the cost of health care.
  • Help for parents to pay for their children’s college education.
  • A plan to end the war and battle America’s dependence on oil.

Obama’s website, also offered in Spanish, is loaded with technology platforms that reach out to people involved in various online groups. The campaign website is filled with links to Obama’s media—Weblogs, Obama Mobile, Partybuilder, Myspace, Facebook, BlackPlanet, Eventful, Flickr, Twitter, BarackTV and the official Obama Store. There are also campaign news feed options, photos, and videos. Obama States is a mashup that allows supporters to find out what is going on in their states, using Blogs, Google Maps and RSS. The People tab includes personal testimonials, targeting specific affinity and interest groups—Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders; African Americans; Americans abroad; environmentalists; first Americans; generation Obama; kids; Latinos; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender people; people of faith; students; veterans; women; and, even more to come. It looks like Obama is in agreement with Chris Anderson’s Long Tail theory; to run his campaign, he is identifying many niches of technology savvy people to share his messages, with hopes to raise enough money and votes to win the presidential election. Using the technology of the future, Obama’s campaign suggests that he is up-to-date in terms of efficient messaging and he wants American citizens to take advantage of information technology and make good decisions, while exercising their political rights.

Key issues on Obama’s website, launched in February 2007, are stated as follows:

  • Strengthening America Overseas
  • Plan to End the Iraq War
  • Creating a Healthcare System that Works
  • Fighting Poverty
  • Environment
  • Energy
  • Technology and Innovation for a New Generation
  • Fulfilling Our Covenant with Seniors
  • Improving Our Schools
  • Protecting Our Homeland
  • Immigration and the Border
  • Protecting the Right to Vote
  • Honoring Our Veterans
  • Cleaning Up Washington’s Culture of Corruption
  • Strengthening Families and Communities
  • Reconciling Faith and Politics

 

On November 14, 2007, Obama’s campaign made a significant turn. He separates himself from other Democratic candidates by officially proposing Public Media 2.0, a platform that would allow Americans to take a closer look at government proceedings. Committed to network neutrality, he advocates a citizen democracy, the freedom of speech and privacy in the world wide web. His technology agenda includes specific goals, like more training for high tech jobs, filtering kits for parents of children who need protection online, and an interactive White House website that would allow citizens to view and comment on government meetings and hearings before non-emergency legislations are signed

One of Obama’s most impressive campaign platforms is, My.BarackObama, which is like an advanced Facebook. He is the first to create a social network for a presidential campaign, and it looks like he has made no mistake because he’s taking advantage of the ability to build a community and communicate his message to thousands of people at once. Members of My.BarackObama have a personal account to include a profile, neighborhood, friends list, event manager, message center, group list, a fundraising resource center and a blog—free. The site makes it easy to manage personal involvement within Obama’s campaign. It helps users keep up with Obama’s action and connect with other supporters to plan and stay posted on local events. The Events tab allows users to easily keep track of events that members have organized or plan to attend. The Neighborhood tab organizes local groups, blogs, events and people who support Obama’s campaign. The Friends tool on My.BarackObama allows for a personal network for easy communication among regular contacts. When users are active on the website, their ranking rises over members who have made fewer contributions, so campaigning for Obama can be personally rewarding for competitive supporters.

Obama’s social networking strategy certainly does not stop at My.BarackObama. He has 166,109 Facebook friends (whom he calls supporters); 196,683 friends on Myspace; a BlackPlanet account; a Linkedin profile; a MyGrito account; an Eventful network; a profile on Digg, a social news/bookmarking site; and, a presence on Eons.com, touted as the webs most politically active community of Americans over the age of 50. Each site is interactive, and Obama uses social networking to give members a look into his personal life and political views. Members are able to communicate key issues to the Illinois Senator and others at any time. Professionals who want to view Obama’s resume and professional profile can do so on Linkedin, but for constant updates on the campaign, supporters can utilize Gather for current news and his other social networking sites.

Obama’s Facebook page consists of 365 photos, 18 posts with useful information and videos, and 1217 notes regarding Obama’s campaign with RSS feed options. Users can stay current on his campaign through the site, and there is also an Obama application that members can add to their own profile to share updated news about the campaign with Friends.

Myspace has proven to be a great platform for artists and other entreprenuers to market products, concerts, etc., and Obama has hopped on the bandwagon too. His Myspace page advertises and provides links to all of the Web 2.0 platforms that he is using in the campaign, plus it includes a blog and offers an easy start to becoming active in his support. All one has to do is click on Sign Up Now to volunteer, fill out the Join The Movement box to receive informative e-mails, or click on the Obama Store link to show support in style. All of Obama’s Top Friends are obvious supporters, and he provides embeded codes for anyone to add the campaign logo, Join The Movement box, and/or a Donate box to other wikis on the web. Those who visit the official Obama Myspace page also have access to Obama on MyGrito, Facebook, Linkedin, Gather, PartyBuilder, Obama Mobile, my.BarackObama, Twitter, and BarackTV on iTunes and YouTube—in one click.

Social networking helps Obama reach people who are underrepresented in the polls. He is communicating with people who speak Spanish on MyGrito, which is very similar to Myspace. His MyGrito page displays his personal interests and political values, a photo gallery, comments from supporters, a video and a link to BarackTV en Español. Obama is also reaching out specifically to young, black potential voters on BlackPlanet.com, another social site, where he has a blog, 2 videos, 5 photos and 368,328 friends.
Blogs provide a good foundation for Obama’s campaign online because they are the conversations of people who make up his social networking team and other followers. He hosts community blogs in an Obama HQ blog that is frequently updated, encouraging members to publish writing in support of the campaign. Also, his website currently features a blog on Obama’s foreign policy views. All blogs on Obama’s site offer the option to subscribe to an RSS feed of posts and/or comments. Thanks to blogs, there are constant conversations among supporters about his campaign on My.BarackObama, Facebook, Myspace, MyGrito and BlackPlanet—5 large worlds that are new to the political arena, but powerful enough to reach millions.

There is a Groupspace on Gather, a social blogging/networking site where people discuss shared interests. A community of people are on Gather posting blogs in support of Obama, and the candidate includes links to this site (and all others) throughout his online campaign.

Eventful is a community of people who are demanding events in their area. Those who participate on the Discussion Boards get the advantage of sending messages to the person, or group, in demand. Obama is registered with the site, and it lists his past and upcoming events, as well as a ranking of the most popular requests for future campaign visits. Currently, 1,528 people want him to go to the Los Angeles metro area, 1,347 are requesting that he visit the Seattle metro area, and 1,161 requests are for the Portland metro area. These are just the top three 3 demands—Obama has 3,516 remaining.

Obama uses BarackTV on YouTube, a video blogging community, to broadcast videos throughout his campaign, giving supporters a visual of what he is doing in each city that he visits. Individuals can subscribe to the videos or just video tags, through his website, to receive those that would be of interest. Users also have the option of re-posting videos and/or e-mailing them to others who may be paying attention to Obama’s campaign. BarackTV is also available on iTunes. In the midst of $.99 videos and songs and $9.99 albums, Obama offers downloadable videos for free. Users are then able to download BarackTV to their computers and/or cell phones.

This democratic candidate is only a text-message away. A US News and World Report article states that “the Obama campaign introduced an initiative that would allow cellphone users to pose the campaign questions using text messages. To subscribe to get updates from the campaign, users could text message ‘GO’ to the number 62262, which conveniently spells out the candidate’s last name. They could then ask Obama anything. During this year’s YearlyKos convention, the campaign also encouraged people to text OBAMA for information about Chicago, the senator’s hometown” (Schwab, 2007). Obama Mobile also gives the option to download wallpaper, ringtones and subscriptions to key issues via SMS at no charge (other fees may apply, depending on the service provider). According to an Obama spokeswoman, a combination of staff and volunteers respond to the text messages. In addition to the mobile services, Obama is registered to Twitter.com, a social network and micro-blogging site. Users can follow SMS updates through the website, mobile text-messaging, instant messaging, e-mails or applications, like Twitterfic, that use little space.

The true impact of Obama’s internet Friends and visitors on the election is yet to be known, but he is building, perhaps, the closest relationship with supporters seen in any other campaign. Even if a small percentage of his supporters create a My.BarackObama account, they are likely to be very active with so many tools at their reach. Obama is smart to penetrate the most popular social networking sites with his messages, in addition to using his personal platform. His supporters in the virtual world are using the technology upon which he has based much of his campaign strategy to build even greater support. These technology savvy grassroot supporters are even sending messages through games in Second Life, using avatars in the virtual world to raise real dollars and to recruit real support for his campaign. Still, he faces the challenge of turning Friends into voters when it is time for the election, but he has already built a large community of people who might vote in favor of Obama’s mission to lead America to become a better informed nation. Perhaps Obama could become more active on Digg in an effort to broaden his audience. He currently has 3,200 Friends on the site and a blogger, Danny Sullivan, posted “US Candidates Hit Digg, Fail To ‘Get’ The Social News Site,” on November 21, 2007. Sullivan introduces US Candidates on Digg, which is an application that allows users to view what candidates are posting on Digg; and, he criticizes Obama for only posting news articles about himself, rather than posting other news articles to express an interest in a variety of issues.

Nevertheless, Obama’s campaign is authentic; he is in high-demand on the political scene and America’s corporate world could learn something from his fresh messaging tactics. Nonprofits and government agencies should pay attention to Obama’s skillful use of free Web 2.0 tools within his campaign. For example, the Nonprofit Roundtable of Greater Washington could use Obama’s website as a template to revamp its own website and make it easier to navigate and more informative and interactive. PR professionals should pay attention to Obama’s ability to be part of the conversations of consumers through social networking and strategic ad placement using new technology platforms and applications.

The Obama campaign is so innovative that he is discussed on a regular basis within a plethora of media outlets. On April 4, 2007, MSNBC reported that Obama raised $25 million in the first three months of 2007, placing him just behind Hillary Clinton. My.BarackObama led a blogger on TechCrunch to publish an article on February 11, 2007 titled, “MyBarackObama: Who Built This?” The post marveled about Obama’s social networking site that is “feature-complete and bug free.” Obama’s innovative campaign is a hot topic in the blogoshpere, as well as in traditional media. Key bloggers lurk under the professional Obama articles in the Washington Post, where reporters are most likely to analyze Obama’s responses at debates while comparing him to his biggest competition, Hillary Clinton. In fact, much of mainstream media places a focus on Obama’s action from state-to-state, using cutting-edge tools, like podcasts, blogs and RSS. Even the Houston Chronicle published an article titled, “Obama takes aim at Clinton during his visit to Austin.” The article supports mainstream media, which has zoned in on Obama’s struggle to differentiate himself from Clinton, in terms of the war in Iraq, America’s health care system and the Presidential role. However, Obama’s solid position in the Presidential race also causes mainstream media to focus on issues that make his campaign unique. For instance, The New York Times published, “Obama Envisions New Iran Approach,” on October 31, 2007. The article discusses an interview on Obama’s plan to repair America’s relationship with Iran. With the support of Oprah Winfrey, a huge, influential media icon; and, Chris Hughes, the ingenious creator of Facebook, Obama is bound to have more, distinguishing news coverage.

Obama makes it his business to be a part of common conversation through the new technology platforms that are available to everyone. He shares his messages through both leading and amateur networking sites, and his campaign is more interactive than any other Presidential candidate. He shares a galore of photos through all of his media, plus he is registered with Flickr. Obama’s Flickr profile states, “[Obama] was fortunate to be able to grow up seeing America from varied viewpoints.” Clearly, Obama’s diverse life experiences have influenced his campaign approach as he offers Americans different viewpoints from which to examine his campaign, and a sneak peak at what America could look forward to if he were elected President.

 

December 3, 2007 Posted by | bill of rights, BlackPlanet.com, Blog, bloggers, Facebook, First Amendment, flickr, Myspace, News, OBAMA MOBILE, Oprah, partybuilder, Politics, Social Network, technology, U.S.Government, washington post, washingtonpost.com, world wide web, YouTube | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

3 Reasons Not To Be A Reporter

 

As an ex-reporter for the Campus Echo, NC Central University’s award-winning online and print newspaper, I have an utmost respect for journalists who dedicate their lives to presenting balanced stories to the public. However, I challenge them to slow down, review their personal archives, face the facts and follow the links. Here’s why I wouldn’t want to be trapped in a deadline, jammed in a beat or threatened by blogs.

 

Deadlines

 

For the sake of time, reporters are looking to interview spokespersons, CEO’s and presidents. Deadlines will rush a reporter into writing an article that is supposed to be well-rounded. That’s why many of them place great value on relationships with quote makers, because it’s a fool-proof way to meet deadlines and get newsworthy articles.

Deadlines often result in missing quotes and odd-shaped stories.

 

Beats

 

To be a good reporter, you should be in the rhythm of your designated section in a publication. Reporters know the key people to talk to before a story even unfolds. They study the appetites of their particular audience, and then report the big money numbers and shocking statistics in one spoonful. Experts in the field of quotes and article-construction, journalists seem to be stuck in an old rhyme book, fulfilling the least of expectations.

Even the best beats scream for more lines and fresh approaches to getting the stories that become history.

 

 

Blogs

 

Why report when you can blog? Blogs are a writer’s dream because, as Robert Scoble and Shel Israel (please see comments) remind us in Naked Conversations, rules on blogging do not exist. Check this Scobleizer out for fun and recognize that bloggers are free from the constraints of traditional press. We make our own beats, from the heart, with the help of Google, Google Reader and other RSS feeds. Captivating an audience through personal convictions, or not, bloggers are closer to the center of the issues that poke them than are reporters.

Strategically placed at the forefront of Google searches and mixed into the professional articles in the Washington Post, blogs are like big ‘ol shovels for reporters to dig up dirt and they threaten the big bold headlines in the archives.

 

November 14, 2007 Posted by | beats, Blog, bloggers, deadlines, Life, News, Politics, reporters, washington post, washingtonpost.com | , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Separate And Unequal Blogs In An iTunes Kind Of World

It’s too bad that some people are missing out on juicy topics, simply because they don’t read blogs. Magazines and newspapers are printed in people’s minds as sufficient information for today’s world. So my lesson today is this: Don’t get too caught up in black and white print. Check out the links and videos, and pay special attention to blogs.

 

Earlier today, I read A Rose-Colored Kind of Apathy, and now I’m drinking a delicious glass of lemonade. The first line, I view blogging as the maximum expression of self-centeredness, drew me in. Nearly offended by the sour BS at the end of the first paragraph, I caught myself wanting to get closer to the center of this particular blog.

 

On Blogs…

 

Let’s not put them in a rose-colored miscellaneous file. As links are in blue, blogs should be in red. So quick to lose its meaning, blogs are WEB-LOGS, simply put, the stories of the people. It takes great skill to report an article in the Washington Post. To get a tight story, you have to get the right quotes and the right angle to make the article objective. Bloggers, a little off-beat, read in between the lines of issues that have personal value, and then blog about it, blah, blah, blah.

 

Considering that you click where you want, bloggers should mirror your interests and ring a bell. They’ll have you looking for articles in the Washington Post. Like, why haven’t I seen anything in the news about my iPhone containing toxic chemicals? Yes, I want the facts, but blogs can lead the way to a valuable personal awareness.

 

On War Blogs

 

Why don’t I know much about the war in Iraq? And why don’t I know how this will affect me? Yes, the 25 and under crowd is stuck in a corner, hooked up to iPods and such. Some of us pause the music/games to get on the front-line in Iraq, like my best-friend who fought in Iraq for 3 years to get a chance to go to college. And others are busy idolizing stars, trying to make money or doing nothing at all.

 

I didn’t know anything about milblogs before last week. I guess that’s because I hate to talk or even think about the war, so I certainly steer away from clicking around the topic. It’s absolutely ridiculous to me and it doesn’t make sense. Why would a country raise billions of dollars to violate another? I don’t need to hear any details about that for my personal fulfillment. However, military bloggers describe the pain that I imagined as soon as I found out my best-friend could have to go to the war in Iraq. Even if I never read another milblog again, I am changed forever. My best-friend has never talked to me about the war, so I’m left to wonder. What would be the color of her blog? Would it have a black background with dark letters, like this? What pictures would she show and describe? What did Iraq do to her? Maybe I’ll find out on Thanksgiving when I visit her in Indiana. This is better than the Washington Post, but thank goodness for my instructor who made me click around in the war zone.

 

Separate & Unequal Blogs

 

I, too, am fortunate enough to reap the benefits of a people who struggled to be treated humanely. Plenty of black people expressed the pain of separate and unequal treatment in America. Many stories that would have us google-eyed are lost somewhere in Martin Luther King’s dream.

 

Imagine black bloggers back in the day. BB’s would’ve been too much! Harriet Tubman had her audience right in front of her and broadcasting her intelligence to the rest of the world would’ve hurt the mission to escape captivity. The Malcom X’s and the Martin Luther King’s wouldn’t have been able to buy a blog or computer if they tried, but the Nella Larson’s would’ve passed a word out somewhere.

 

Separate from news and unlike any other personal log, blogs today are right on time and valuable. Almost free, they’re the apple pie in a world where iTunes will instantly let you download and play any song you want to hear, and preview the songs you’ve never heard before. Left to rot underneath light-weight articles, the juiciness of blogs will still satisfy the sweetest craving for the American dream , when all one has to do is search.

November 14, 2007 Posted by | Blog, Google, Iraq, Life, News, Politics, The Search, war, washington post | , , , , , | 5 Comments