Obama App Confuses me

July 17, 2008

How many days, minutes and seconds until we vote for the next president of the United States? You don’t have an answer yet?

Well, if you downloaded this applicationfor your iphone you would. It’s a countdown to Obama ’08. You can glance at your iphone and know when to go vote down to the nearest second. When you click on the URL, however, something funny happens.

It transfers you to another page, that part is normal, and then there’s an Obama logo on the top with an ad for McCain underneath it. It says loading but doesn’t load. That part though could be due to my less than stellar computer.

I tried to read the blog of creator Nick Pettit to see if I could find some answers. Nick describes himself as a software engineer who makes websites. He doesn’t seem to be politically active on his blog. In fact, it’s really about creating gadgets for the web. He has an interesting post describing how important it is to make sure that widgets, when used,serve their purpose. So true, a bad widget just makes you look like you are incompetent. Maybe I’m looking too far into this.

Originally I was just excited to write about the new application thinking about all of the new political tidbits that would come out of the iphone apps. I couldn’t pass this up though. It was just too juicy.

I was trying to figure out the motivation and if it has any deeper meaning. The truth is that the best thing to do is ask the source. So, I used a comment on his blog page to pose my question. I’ll post the answer when I get it.

In the meantime though, the countdown is a great idea to keep potential voters thinking about your candidate.

UPDATE: I received a response from Nick:

Nick said…

I don’t choose the ads that appear. They’re placed there automatically by Google. Just for the record, I do support Obama. Thanks for the heads up! 🙂

How interesting is that?

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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.

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 Keepthatfaith.com 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!

Web Wars

June 12, 2008

It’s the battle of the websites, MeetBarackObama.com vs. Fightthesmears.com. Now, at first glance, it may seem that both are Democratic sites but that is the furthest thing from the truth. MeetBarackObama.com 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.

Fightthesmears.com, 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.

Is McCain too old to run for president? Of course he isn’t. You’re only as old as you feel after all. How about his health? He may have had skin cancer but is monitoring it and doing fine. Just check out his medical report for yourself.

 

How about Obama? Well, he used to smoke but he’s quit numerous times. He’s currently using nicotine gum to dull the cravings. Aside from that he’s very fit. Don’t believe me? He’s got a doctor’s note to prove it.

 

Yes, it’s the battle of the medical reports and everyone is talking about it –Marc Ambinder, The Huffington Post, The Fix, and now Blogging it in. I guess I’m in pretty good company.

 

What about Hillary? How’s she doing? Sorry folks, she’s keeping it under wraps. I guess that means she’s out of the race. It’s interesting how trends start in politics. Candidates will do what they have to in order to win the nomination and then the race.

 

As many Americans have little or no medical insurance the candidates are flashing their records. Maybe they should instead work a little harder on getting medical records for all. If McCain didn’t have health insurance he wouldn’t be able to monitor his skin. A clean bill of health wouldn’t be available to potential voters to wade through.

 

In the end, the only thing that the battling medical records really does, is bring more attention to the health care problems in the U.S. I’m sure people with no insurance aren’t saying, “thank goodness a potential presidential candidate is feeling fit and fiddle.” I’m sure instead they are wondering if their family will be as lucky.

 

Who’s going to be a better president? Age, not so important. Policies, now that can make a difference. So keep your medical records and give us substance instead.

Politics seems to be a vicious circle. The First Campaign, written by an insightful young author, discusses this pattern. One party is in power and nothing is done or something that the public doesn’t like so the other party is elected to office. After 8 years they too lose favor so the first party is brought back. It seems to be a given as it’s happened so many times before. The flip side of this is that maybe the party in power feels too sure of themselves and doesn’t have the same drive to stay in office as the party who is trying to get back into favor.

 

 

Either way it comes down to money. With more money there is more power and power seems to walk hand in hand with official positions. Whichever party, or candidate for that matter, has the most dollars seems to prevail. In the past it was the Republican machine and now the Democratic machine seems to be catching up. Whenever the media reports on how a candidate is doing in the elections it is always accompanied by the amount in their campaign account.

 

When in comes to the internet it now seems that you need to be in it to win it. Ever since the Dean campaign dove into the internet headfirst everyone is getting wet, even if it’s only a pinky toe. Now candidates get criticized if they don’t open up enough on the internet. In a recent blog on TechPresident they discussed how insulted some were that Hillary Clinton sent out tweets on Twitter but didn’t pretend to follow any. In other words she’s not signed up for anyone else’s feed. Obama is signed up for over 23,000 feeds. He must have a lot of time on his hands.

 

Political campaigns are all about perception. Do any of the candidates have their finger on the pulse of the people, probably not. If the perception is there, however, then the race is won.