Show me the Money

June 29, 2008

You want to become president? You’d better have lots of money. Before the Dean campaign came along most of the money came from a few large donors. If you collected a lot of money from your well to do buddies you became a Pioneer or a Ranger. This, in turn, usually bought you some favors. Want to be an ambassador or have government regulation in your favor? Just show me the money. 


When Joe Trippi took over the Dean campaign he knew that they needed money to win. It was time to think outside of the box. When given the tools, voters were organizing themselves on Meetup. Why not let them know what the campaign needed when it came to funding and trust the voters to help achieve that goal? Jerry Lewis was in a studio every year asking for money for muscular dystrophy research while standing beside a thermometer with the temperature climbing as money poured in. Why couldn’t the campaign use a variation of that idea to motivate voters. They could visually see what they were helping to accomplish. They could feel like part of the team as they did at the Meetups. Larry Biddle from the finance department came up with the solution, a baseball bat. What is more american than baseball?

A goal was set. Not too high, because they needed to reach it but not too low because they needed to make an impression. It was $4.5 million. In the end they raised $7.2 million and changed the face of campaign financing. All of this money was raised by small donors. The average check was for $50 or less. No Rangers here and also no one that the campaign was beholden to.  Another breakthrough was that never before had fundraising goals gone public. Sometimes you need to take a chance to make an impact. 


Basically, what it comes down to is that in order to raise money for campaigns a candidate needs to court their supporters, all of them. Hillary Clinton didn’t and she lost the nomination and is $20 million in debt. Obama embraced Dean’s model and motto of change and he has the nomination.

Perhaps not, but is it your grandpa’s? Apparently it will be if McCain takes office according to Tracy Russo who was the deputy director if online communications for John Edwards. She asked Mark Soohoo about McCain’s sub par knowledge of the internet at the Personal Democracy Forum. Mark’s answer didn’t tell us anything new but it got the question out there. It went from cyberspace to real dialogue. Who knows, maybe Soohoo will take the chiding that he received back to the campaign and educate McCain? It could happen however unlikely.


Now, what makes Russo an expert? Her candidate didn’t win. Well, Edwards might not have won but he did make quit a splash at the forum with a spur of the moment Skype appearance.

His wife, Elizabeth, was giving an interview via the online video connection when John arrived home and took a seat. The Skype connection wasn’t planned but a canceled flight made it a necessity. The point of the whole story is that two people, who weren’t afraid of the internet, were able to embrace it and make a whole lot of people happy. McCain is missing out on a lot of opportunities because he shuns this tool.


Another group that needs to embrace the internet but has lagged behind would be the “mainstream media.” Jay Rosen discussed how there is no absolute anymore when it comes to journalism. We all need to start playing together nicely. As the “semi-pros”, bloggers and other citizen journalists have taken off on the internet someone has been left behind. That someone would be the traditional media. Why did this happen? Well, they seem to have held off for as long as possible and are now playing the catch up game. As Prof. Graff has taught us this isn’t a good position to be in. The innovators will always retain the lead unless a new comer creates something exponentially better. As this isn’t likely to happen anytime soon it’s time for the tradition to change or eat dust.


Pigs in Space

June 24, 2008

McCain must have spoken with his wife. He’s trying to change his image as a candidate who just doesn’t know how the tubes on the internets work. He’s revamped his website and even added an application on Facebook. Sounds pretty good huh? Hmmm.

Gaming is definitely web 2.0. Flying Atari type pigs are not. John forgot to consult his children when he came out with his new game Pork Invaders. It will not get him any cool points. The graphics are very innovative for the 1980’s. I mean, he wouldn’t walk around flaunting his sock garters for fear of his age being called into question. So, why would he add an application from the 20th century? This was a great chance to shine but instead he just fell flat.

Well, there’s still one more innovation that his “supporters” are handing to him. As I mentioned in my last blog, Techrepublican is touting a site called Graphic artists can donate their work to the Republican cause. I included one piece of artwork from the site in my blog. It was brought to my attention that embedded in the photo may be a symbol that McCain doesn’t want to be associated with him.

Does this look familiar? Is that a crescent and star? You be the judge.

But, it’s not all bad news for John McCain’s web presence. His redesigned website is turning heads. It’s got a blog, better color scheme, and it basically ushers his website into web 2.0. This means that his web team has it in them. They just need to expand it and keep his web presence growing. More importantly though someone needs to sit him down and give him a crash course on the internet. Maybe we’ll see him in Prof. Graff’s next Social Media class. He can borrow a laptop from the department and be ready to go.

First came the primaries and now the presidential elections are around the corner. With all of the excitement voters are stepping up and putting their best foot forward. Their favorite candidate not only inspires them to vote but also to create art. The candidates have inspired a band to reunite and entrepreneurs to make money.


The Grateful Dead reunited for a benefit concert and updated their “Steal Your Face” logo to incorporate Obama’s presidential campaign logo. Now this is a double doozy with both artwork and music inspired by a candidate. Obama got in on the fun by recording a message especially for the concert, which sold out in mere minutes.

If you check out Youtube you can find some musical tributes to Obama. There’s everything from the ridiculous to the sublime. Anyone with the time can hear the Oscar Meyer Weiner song sung with Obama lyrics. For those with a more discerning ear there’s a reggae salute to him by Coco Tea.

Musicians aren’t the only ones getting into the spirit. Entrepreneurs are using the election to make a quick buck on ebay. You can find true works of art and some homemade masterpieces. If you’ve got the money, a whole gallery of Obama art can be yours. You can also find some McCain art but it’s not as flattering.

So, where can you go to get some voter created content about McCain? Techrepublican came up with a solution. Since the graphics for John McCain and the rest of the republican party were just not up to snuff a website was created to solve the problem. Graphic artists are encouraged to share their designs to be used free of charge by those not as talented. The site is called after a phrase that McCain once used. Not only can you use what’s on the site but if you don’t find what you’re looking for just request it. The hope is that someone will hear your call and create the content that you’re looking for.


Long live donations and free enterprise!

I couldn’t resist another iPhone story. I still want one. I still don’t have one but now, there’s another reason to love it, GPS. I have an awful sense of direction and could really use a nice handheld GPS device. That way when I visit New York City I’ll always be able to get where I need to go.


Enough about me though, this is about politics, so let’s get to it. Techrepublican discusses some possible campaign uses for the new iPhone 2.0 that’s coming out in July. Canvassing has long been a part of political campaigns. If the volunteers had these new GPS capable iPhones they would be able to pin point where they needed to go to spread the word. Once there they would be able to access information about the household that they were visiting. They could then enter in the answers to surveys or add a new email to the campaign’s database instantaneously. Homes that were visited could be checked off. This could make the process more effective and help assure that no home was missed.


Now, would campaigns buy iPhones for all of their volunteers? This is not very likely. How then to utilize the technology? Well, how about using Meetup? Groups could be formed for iPhone users with an interest in politics. These groups could meet and discuss a canvassing plan. They could then coordinate with the campaign that they’re interested in and start working.


The other interesting concept for the new iPhones is the ability for users to create their own private applications. Only phones with authorization can use these applications. In this way campaigns can create their own ways to utilize this new technology. Volunteers that are included in the circle created by these applications will feel a larger part of the campaign. This in turn would encourage their continued participation. What’s not to love?   

In Mousepads, Shoe Leather, and Hope Michael Silberman describes Howard Dean’s effective use of The Dean campaign, in essence, let the people speak while the campaign listened. The wisdom of the crowds was put into play. Even though the campaign staff included many knowledgeable staff members, fresh ideas were also welcome. Brainstorming between group members was encouraged to figure out new ways to get the message out. In this way volunteers, who didn’t have any preconceived notions about how it has always been done, could figure other ways to get it done.


Of course, some guidance was welcome. Group leaders were given sample agendas so that they could have a jumping off point for their meetings. The Meetups were also given supplies by the Dean office so that they could help in ongoing letter writing campaigns. Everything was provided to willing hands. The members only needed to know how they could be most helpful and they proceeded to dig in.



With more people involved in the campaign the potential was there to exponentially grow support for Dean. If each member could bring in a few new members and then each of them brought in a few more, well, you can see where this is going. It could spread like a chain letter, with the volunteers going to your candidate. This is all well and good but the larger question is how to keep this group of free laborers content?


This is where the true genius of the campaign is brought in. The group leaders were given a personal touch. They spoke with real people on the phone and were able to ask questions. They were treated with dignity and responded by being an integral part of the Dean campaign. They became such an important part of the campaign because they were treated as such. When you have people, essentially working for free, you’d better give them some support. It’s amazing how far a pat on the back can go. These grassroots organizers were encouraged and welcomed with open arms and their numbers grew to more than 600,000. Now that’s a lot of arms.

Web Wars

June 12, 2008

It’s the battle of the websites, vs. Now, at first glance, it may seem that both are Democratic sites but that is the furthest thing from the truth. is actually a Republican site designed to chip away at Obama.

MeetBarackObama, according to Mark Ambinder, features a clock showing how long it’s been since Obama has been to Iraq. You can even download it as a widget. This is, of course, a major focus of the McCain campaign. The general message is that what McCain may lack in technology he makes up for in battle. It also features an album of Obama pictures showing no white hair on his head. This emphasizes Obama’s youth as opposed to McCain’s age. Obama is portrayed as an impetuous youth. McCain, therefore would be, a distinguished older gentleman. Obama’s resume is also mocked. Describing him as a “street organizer” plays down his time in Chicago as an activist. Considering what the Republican sites looked liked until their current revamp it looks pretty good. They seem to have lifted the graphics directly off of an Obama campaign page so this might have something to do with it., on the other hand, is a Democratic site. The Fix and Techpresident discussed it in their blogs. This site is pretty self-explanatory but I’ll explain it anyway. It is designed to confront rumors about Obama as well as smear campaigns. What rumors might you ask? Well, the tape of Michelle Obama saying not so nice things for one. Obama not being born in the United States for another. It seems that in every election there are emails that sneak into our mailboxes telling us to be wary of a candidate. I personally remember getting one during the Dean campaign saying that he didn’t like Jewish people so bewares. These can have a detrimental affect on the candidate so debunking them is always a good idea. As we discussed last semester if a company, or in this case a candidate, doesn’t address these issues they tend to grow out of control. The best thing to do is address it quickly and often so that voters know that there is nothing to hide.

So, it’s that time. The comparison is about to come to an end. What have I learned? The first lesson is that I shouldn’t pick two blogs to compare based on their names. I liked the name Instapundit so I picked it as the Republican blog that I would follow. The main problem here is that a majority of the postings were not political. This made the comparison harder since it seemed to be apples and oranges most of the time. There didn’t seem to be many strong opinions for the posts that were political. If the posting was discussing something that might be detrimental to a Republican it was very short and trite.

As for The Daily Kos it was very political. Every story was about politics. If something might put a Democrat in a bad light the posting was long and gave counter arguements. It was very heavy handed when it came to Republican mistakes. This is an opinionated blog and proud of it.

What I really learned is that the two blogs, leaning different ways, discussed different stories. Very rarely did the two mirror any stories at all. In this way a completely different view of current events is portrayed. Unless you read both you’d miss a lot of news. Each glosses over what the other found important. These blogs might be nice supplements to other news sources but I wouldn’t recommend either one as a main source of information. Too much would slip through the cracks and opinions.

Today in politics with The Daily Kos. Obama’s campaign will have staffers in all 50 states. This isn’t very far fetched since, as was mentioned in class, the prolonged democratic primaries took both candidates to every state. They just left their staffers there in preparation for the elections. Speaking of democratic primaries, Hillary supporters who are thinking of switching to McCain are mocked. Bush is tweaked because of his surprise at rising gas prices three months ago. Obama being labeled the most liberal senator by Boren is discussed and debunked. McCain is accused of not caring if troops are brought home. Finally Kucinich’s push for Bush’s impeachment is discussed.


In Instapundit today Obama is mocked as an economic flip flopper. Webb is described as a poor potential running mate. Finally though we have some convergence as far as story topics go. Kucinish calling for Bush’s impeachment is mocked in a very short post. Obama being labeled liberal by Boren is briefly mentioned but no real time is spent on the post. Aside from that, the importance of vitamin D is discussed. Rounding out today’s conversation we look into whether Asian’s, as a minority, are held to a higher standard than other groups when it comes to college admissions. Until we meet again tomorrow for right vs. left.

Today The Daily Kos was discussing campaign funding, as in how much each of the candidates have. Obama has more and McCain has less than Bush did at this time last cycle. McCain’s connection to lobbyists was also examined. Keith Oberman was mentioned twice and a move to get Bush impeached was also discussed.


As for Instapundit, the stories are completely different. Today it seems that most of the posts aren’t very political. A little reminder about drinking water in the heat is thrown in with thoughts of global warming. Some strange animal attacked someones dog. Obama was mentioned in that he made a poor choice when he chose Johnson to vet his VP candidate hopefuls. They also mentioned that Aids is now not an epidemic for heterosexual people. Hmmm, can’t wait to see what I learn tomorrow.