Archive for May, 2011
An unexpected gift arrived in my email inbox this evening: an invitation (subject line: “Invitation”) to join Newt Gingrich’s email list:
As you may have heard, I am an official candidate for president of the United States. But I know that it will take more than one person in the Oval Office to get our country back on the right track. That’s why I’m inviting you to join the campaign as we work to win the future together with the right policies and the right results.
The links go to a bare-bone email signup page, with no attempt at persuasion and no mention of social media despite the email’s touting of his 1.4 million fans and followers, but my question is this: how’d Newt get my address? His message is clearly unsolicited, since I haven’t asked to receive email from him, but since it’s political his entreaty is immune from spam restrictions. His campaign sent it to my Epolitics.com address, which sometimes implies that it’s a blogger pitch, but this message is too generic for that and is coming from a mass-email system, a no-no for targeted outreach — unless Newt has a really bad blogger-relations team.
Of course he bought my email, probably as a relic of some long-dead campaign whose updates I agreed to receive months or years ago. I’m curious to see if I hear from him again via this list, and while I WILL sign for his updates out of a sense of (amateur) journalistic responsibility, I’ll use a different (and super top secret) address for that purpose. After all, how else would I be able to learn that “America only works when Americans are working”?
May 31st, 2011
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What happens when you mix devoted Liberal and Conservative activists in the same city for two different political conferences, and then add alcohol? I dunno, but we’re fixin’ to find out — Epolitics.com is an official co-sponsor of the Netroots/RightOnline Right Meets Left and Left Meets Right Happy Hour in Minneapolis in just three short weeks. It’s being organized by the legendary (and lovely) Julie Germany, now of DCI Group but formerly director of the Institute for Politics, Democracy and the Internet, and will be co-sponsored on the conservative side by Right Wing News.
Mmmm, mmm, I do love me a good party, and this one’s shaping up to be a hoot and a half, plus an anthropological moment of the highest order…will heads explode when hardcore activists realize that they CAN actually have an intelligent discussion with someone with whom they disagree on just about everything? Or, will the whole event degenerate into a zombie-apocalypse-style bloodbath? Only one way to find out — and that’s to show up. Hope y’all can make it.
May 27th, 2011
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Yesterday’s House hearing on the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau apparently took a harsh turn, with Republican Rep. Patrick McHenry in particular accusing interim director (and liberal darling) Elizabeth Warren of lying to Congress. In the process he apparently wasn’t very nice, and online activists have started to return the favor.
McHenry’s Facebook page was quickly besieged by comments criticizing his words and motives, and I’ve heard rumors that his staff deleted at least some of the messages (defense of Fort McHenry indeed!), though as of this writing plenty are still being added. That’s all fun and games, but someone also set up a Citizens Against Patrick McHenry Facebook Page and an ActBlue fundraising page dedicated to raising money for his eventual opponent, though they’re only up to $85 so far.
Remember the revolutionary days of the Clinton War Room? Now rapid response is a potential tool for ANY political cause, not just a campaign or organization able to hire professional communicators. I’ve never quite understood the seemingly visceral hatred that some Republicans have for Warren and her agency-to-be, but in this case it seems to have left at least one congressmember slightly unhinged. I wonder how he feels about the response, and if he’ll pick his words more carefully next time. Unlikely: it’s too easy to dismiss critics as fools and ignore them completely. Though we’ll see if they can raise enough of a stink (and a big enough pile of cash) that McHenry can’t just wave them away like flies at a cook-out.
May 25th, 2011
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A wealth of riches for our loyal readers! Check out the second guest article of the week, this one by a new guest author — Andrew Foxwell is the director of marketing and new media for iConstituent, a company that works with Congressional offices on digital communications. You can follow him at @andrewfoxwell.
Predictions: The Future of Congressional Communications
By Andrew Foxwell
In the campaign world, much buzz surrounds New Media, also called “digital” in some camps. The campaign world is a digital Wild West, a lawless society known for raising serious cash and getting people involved at astonishing speed. But what happens when a Member gets to Congress? Where does New Media find its place in the official communications of Congress?
All Members of Congress currently have a website, and most have an email newsletter tool to send out news, videos and other interactive pieces of content to their constituents. In addition, they all have a CRM to manage and respond to the hundreds of thousands of constituents they represent. Along with this mix, they also have (hopefully) some sort of social media account, either with Facebook or Twitter, or both. These tools are working, but questions remain. Are they working effectively? What change will the future bring? Here are iConstituent’s top three predictions:
May 19th, 2011
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The latest from Epolitics.com contributor Chris Talbot! A former Googler, Chris is the founder of Talbot Digital, on whose website this piece originally appeared. Check out his previous articles, All Buzz is Good Buzz: Taking Online Rapid Response to the Next Level and Switching to Guns: Political Air Wars Come to the Internet, or follow him at @talbotdigital.
Bin Laden, Twitter, & Selective Journalistic Integrity
By Chris Talbot
In the days since the US Military killed Osama Bin Laden, a rather large amount of ink and pixels have been dedicated not to the content or impact of the story, but to how the story itself leaked out. Twitter was the main source of news, with more traditional online media outlets also outpacing the jumbled TV news coverage. Of course, Twitter played a role even as the event took place, as the now famous tech consultant in Abbottabad unwittingly live-tweeted the raid. Those Twitter posts have since been used to reconstruct a timeline on the assault, showing just how hard it is to keep anything under wraps these days, even for SEAL Team Six.
While this is one of the largest stories to date driven by Twitter, it is certainly not the first. It’s already become a well-regarded practice among savvy reporters to construct detailed social media alert feeds in order to catch breaking stories. This didn’t all happen yesterday.
The more intriguing piece of the media analysis ought to be the television news teams’ hesitation to broadcast rampant speculation prior to any confirmation of the story – as is their usual MO. Rachel Maddow stated days later on a Daily Show appearance that this was a story you could only mess up if you got out in front of the facts – which begs the question: why do our news media seem perfectly comfortable getting out ahead of the facts on all the other stories they report? What constitutes a story that should be reported “responsibly” according to a journalist’s approach – and which stories, say, need a little spark of supposition?
One answer might be this: news executives understood the Bin Laden report would make “good television” without too much bloviating added on – none of that irresponsible gossip that so often passes for “news” because it gives non-stories a good ratings bump. Such an answer puts all our news outlets firmly in the Entertainment industry camp rather than the News division.
Enjoy the Upfronts.
Great work, man! And right on target… – cpd
May 18th, 2011
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Here’s a good example of using a proxy target for your REAL opponent in an online advertising campaign: Media Matters has gone on the digital offensive against Fox News, but their ads are actually aimed at online travel service Orbitz. Here’s what’s up, and look to the right for a few frames from one of their video pieces.
Media Matters kicked off its DropFox campaign today by urging Orbitz (OWW), an online travel site, to pull its ads from the anti-LBGT Fox News network. Three high-profile gay rights organizations — GLAAD, Courage Campaign and Equality Matters — signed the letter to Orbitz CEO Barney Harford asking that the company no longer support Fox News through ad revenue.
Media Matters’ multi-issue DropFox campaign aims to hold Fox News accountable for its hate speech, misinformation, and other alarming deviations from the usual standards of anews organization. This campaign includes an online ad component to raise awareness about Orbitz’s financial support for Fox News.
It’s a good tactic, since Fox News couldn’t care less about Media Matters itself (in fact, the more a lefty organization like MM picks on Fox, the more cred the “news” network earns with its fan base), but Orbitz is another story. Consumer brands are usually very sensitive to how they’re perceived, making them far more vulnerable to online action than a typical politician — Congressional offices EXPECT to get criticized via email, and they accept that many constituents will simply never be happy with them, but a corporation takes a great risk if it runs off even a few of its customers. In this case, Orbitz is particularly vulnerable because it has advertised specifically at the LGBT community, opening it to charges of hypocrisy. And Media Matters and its allies aren’t being shy:
We are running an array of ads — from Google to Facebook to banner ads on specific sites — to raise awareness among consumers that their dollars might be going to support bigotry and misinformation and to ensure that brand managers understand the risk they run by associating with Fox News.
Good times all around! This tactic isn’t new, of course, since advocacy groups have pushed advertisers to drop their support of particular networks and shows many times in the past, but that doesn’t make it any less effective.
May 16th, 2011
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- The Laffer Curve
- “Reality” TV
- Droopy drawers (hip hop variety)
- Hack-spewed talking points on cable “news”
- Endlessly looping viagra/light beer/car insurance commercials
- Throat-singing (metal variety)
- Newt Gingrich
- A political discourse based on fear.
May 13th, 2011
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So THAT’S what a month’s worth of Quick Hits looks like.
- Gingrich to announce for president via Facebook and Twitter. Update: An appropriate response.
- Understanding the Staggering Spread of Keith Urbahn’s bin Laden Tweet and Bin Laden Killing Sets Twitter Record.
- Osama conspiracy theorists find a home on the web. Plus, The Osama Raid Situation Room meets Photoshop, and the collective genius of the internet is up to it.
- Barack Obama’s online army quietly gears up, and c.f. BarackObama.com 101 and Obama ’12 Has Its Digital Director. Plus, Barack Obama reelect’s first job: Reconnect, and How Obama Wins: The Strategy.
- DNC and Obama Spent Half Million Online This Year.
- GOP’s Digital Operations Not Ready for 2012, Insiders Say.
- Average pundit no better than a flipped coin (and significantly less valuable).
- Colbert (and friends) take John Kyl to task on Twitter.
- GOP Uses Wonky Videos to Push Budget Agenda, as Scott Brown Goes on Web Defensive Against League of Women Voters.
- Sarah Palin’s website sparks White House buzz. C.f. Why we need to take Michele Bachmann seriously. “And that following has been built, in part, by what is a relatively new phenomenon: Cable news and the Internet, which has enabled first- and second-term House members to enjoy a level of national visibility and celebrity that would have been unthinkable just a generation ago.”
- Romney’s announcement video a total snoozer.
- GOP presidential hopefuls try to defuse their ‘fatal flaws’, which are lovingly preserved on the internets.
- Democratic Consultant + Video Camera + South Carolina Tea Party Rally = Oy.
- Senators Prep For Online YouTube Video Debate.
- Why Location-Based Services Will be the Killer App of the 2012 Elections, via Alex Priest. (Color me skeptical.)
- The Obama Internet guru who wasn’t. Lies, damn lies, and total bullsh*t.
- How the DCCC “bought” media coverage with a few radio ads.
- The first Facebook skirmish of the 2012 election.
- Many College Facebook Users Say Web Advocacy Better Than In-Person. Note: the children are our future.
- Georgian woman cuts off web access to whole of Armenia while scavenging for copper, via Sarah Lai Stirland.
- Cisco to shutter Flip: What does this mean for PR and marketing pros? Alternative: Give Flip Cameras a New and Better Life
- Fighting the Mississippi Floods with Facebook.
- Announcing “Social Media for Social Good: A How-To Guide for Nonprofits.” Pre-order now or regret it later.
- The Art of the Fundraising Video, and Inside the Hill: The Power of Online Video.
- White House Rolls Out Obama’s Immigration Speech with Hashtags and House Parties.
- Politicians Seek ‘New’ New Media for 2012 Run.
- NationalJournal Profiles Mindy Finn.
- Korea’s e-People wins U.N. Public Service Awards.
- Social Media Monitors Measure Singapore Election Buzz.
- Twitter CEO Goes to Washington, meets with senators, congressmen to discuss analytics service.
- The Wall Street Journal Launches a WikiLeaks Competitor, SafeHouse.
- Karl Rove’s own personal Wikileaks, and the internets now have More Pentagon Papers Donald Rumsfeld Doesn’t Want You to See.
- Japanese Youth Step Up In Earthquake Aftermath, using social media to organize themselves.
- How Nigerian voters, especially the young, are using technology to prove a point..
- Harry Potter fans organize online to save the world.
- Interactive Map: America’s Changing Demographics.
- Looking Down on Deforestation: Brazil Sharpens Its Eyes in the Sky to Snag Illegal Rainforest Loggers.
- Technologically-challenged MPs ridiculed online – Video (in New Zealand). Meanwhile, the ANC puts ward candidates online in South Africa.
- Detained Chinese artist a Twitter god.
- ‘Juvenoia,’ Part 1: Why Internet fear is overrated.
- Part II of Advocacy Live – Connecting Online Advocacy and Fundraising.
- Microsoft hosts an “applications for good” hackathon in DC.
- Content Fuels Social Media Interaction.
- How Joan Walsh ignited a Twitter race brawl. C.f. Everyone seems to think I’m at war with the wife of a famous novelist on Twitter. I don’t even use Twitter!
- As its Star Trek videos launch, Social Security tries to connect with younger citizens.
- Cancer charity tidies up Wikipedia.
- Bloggers File Class-Action Lawsuit Against Huffington, HuffPo, AOL. C.f. The unpaid writers’ lawsuit against the Huffington Post is bunk.
- (Global Online) Ad Market Recovering Despite Shocks in Japan, Middle East.
- Live Tweeting the Civil War: Showdown at Ft. Sumter.
- Obama’s debt speech, as a word cloud.
- As technology evolves, the (Texas) Senate starts to change, via Tprez. C.f. Hacking Small Town America: The Unexploited Market of Tyler, Texas, which is dangerously close to the hometown of e.politics.
- New Rules in India Tighten Limits on Online Speech. Meanwhile, China bans time travel (online).
- Social networking and energy conservation: What went wrong?
- Public Service Announcement to candidates: Renew your domain name.
- A history of advertising, from the POV of body-anxiety. “Listerine targeted men and women, but the phrase “often a bridesmaid but never a bride” was made famous by the company’s ads. In one 1925 image, a woman reads another woman’s wedding announcement with a troubled expression on her face. ‘Her case was really a pathetic one,’ the copy intones, describing the woman as nowhere near marriage ‘as her birthdays crept gradually toward that tragic thirty mark.’”
- A brief history of bombs.
- Three Cheap Tools to Measure Blogs and Social Media.
- Politico helpfully illustrates depressing absurdity of current news cycle.
- 5 fantastic examples of interactive video.
- How to enchant customers, audiences, and viewers.
- Despicable Them: Rising Above a Rotten Reputation, A situation with which e.politics has a great deal of experience.
- Judge Throws Out Koch Satirical Site Case.
- Video: Redistricting Spells Danger for Democrats in 2012.
- Obama’s Facebook “Townhall”: What Exactly Was That?
- 50,000 Nonprofits on Twitter!
- Hot New Trend: Posting The Data Apple Secretly Collected On You.
- Iran says second cyber attack hits country.
- True or False: “Digital revolutions are bad news for autocrats.”.
- Is Capitol Hill tuning out social media? A response to Social media not so hot on the Hill.
- Group Texting: Useful or Hype?
- Wikipedia’s “Macaca” Problem.
- Limits of (Russian) e-politics: Why Alexey Navalny won’t win an election anytime soon.
- Welcome to the Brave New World of Persuasion Profiling.
- Chuck Norris Plagiarizes Hatred of Muslims in his online column. Say it ain’t so!
- Adults scarred by sex ed website. “Alarmed lawmakers are trying to shutter MariaTalks.org for its crude teen slang.”
- The New Media ToolKit. “This curated collection of online tools, tutorials and resources is designed to help nonprofits and ethnic and community news organizations navigate the often intimidating and ever-evolving new media landscape,” via Margot Friedman.
- The shortcomings of Facebook “likes”.
- Blog Carnival on Fostering Nonprofit Innovation.
- Tip: Integrate New Media and Field for events.
- How can we use #PrivChat to press for #privacy rights?
- AP falls for fake press release.
- Enlisting cats in the budget wars. Vote right, and the bedspread lives.
- Netflix Declares Peak DVD.
- Retailers Retool Sites to Ease Mobile Shopping.
- An Earth Day pep talk.
- Storytelling and the Art of Email Writing.
- Digging For Votes: An Analysis Of 2008 Presidential Candidates’ Use Of New Media (some poor bastard’s thesis).
- Fugazi to Create Website With Every Show They’ve Ever Played. Finally, a good use for digital technology.
- David Hobby: A Baltimore Sun photographer who took a buyout, started a blog, and changed the photography business forever.
- It’s a Small World After All: A slide show of aerial photography, from pigeon-mounted cameras to Apollo 17 and beyond. C.f. 50 years of photos of human spaceflight (note: Twitter mentioned), and a cool space shuttle infographic.
- Visualizing Landscapes: In the Terrain of Water. A little something for the design nerds.
- The Greatest Musical Satirists of Their Generation: The rude, hilarious, surprisingly sweet musical canon of Trey Parker and Matt Stone. C.f. Using the web to build a worldwide choir.
- Finally, a DIY machine shop: Four essential tools you can build from recycled parts. A write-up of the latest project from A Loyal Reader (nice work, Dad!).
May 10th, 2011
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Enough politics for one week! Let’s wrap up a tumultuous few days with something a little more enlightening than the average blog post — a Very Serious Look at the secret Pentagon history of using cats in warfare.
Careful with that trigger, Fluffy! Yes, apparently the U.S. military has been employing cats on veeeeery important national security missions for decades, for instance taking advantage of the fact that wily felines always land on their feet to have them lead the way on airborne missions (no parachutes required!).
How many Iraqi insurgents and Taliban strike teams fell victim to silent-but-deadly neck bites and the occasional vicious tail-smack? How many times have purrs of triumph echoed across the battlefield to strike fear into the hearts of our enemies? We’ll never know, because these operatives don’t talk (they just yowl now and again).
For more, check out Slate.com’s shocking exposé — and get ready to re-write the textbooks, because no military history of the 20th Century will be complete until it takes on the vital question of litter-box logistics.
May 6th, 2011
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I was online last night when the first hints of President Obama’s big announcement began to slip out, so of course I checked into Twitter to see what the chatter was. And as a few minutes’ wait stretched into over an hour, I kept looking for a sign — specifically, for a sign that the exploding discussion would break the internet and send Twitter into long night of fail-whaling. Lo and behold, no weighty cetaceans were there to be found! Congratulations, Twitter — whether by luck (Sunday night, little warning) or planning (a steadily improving infrastructure), you survived to watch America react.
And react we did — alongside untold thousands of individual expressions of joy and relief, almost instantly “GhostOsama” started tweeting (samples: “Well this sucks…I accidentally enabled location on my tweets” and “I retired as the world champion of hide and seek”) and a site popped up to answer the existential question, “Is Osama Dead?” (getting points for brevity in the process).
Plus, we quickly found out that a computer engineer in Osama’s neighborhood inadvertantly live-tweeted the raid (the helicopters were annoying and he wanted to take a fly swatter to them), and that one reason the White House announcement was so sudden was that word was seeping out online. Nice work, internets! We celebrated, we spoofed, we worried and we cheered, and we got to do it all where everyone could see and join in. My own sentiments? A Mark Twain quote that floated around last night summed it up nicely: “I’ve never wished a man dead, but I have read some obituaries with great pleasure.”
Update: C.f. Bin Laden’s Online Fan Club Fumes at Death Reports, and some conservatives fume at Obama, apparently for having the gall to preside over something that went well.
May 2nd, 2011
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Earlier this weekend Eli Pariser linked to one of the funniest damn things I’ve seen in a while: a brilliant parody of erstwhile Republican Congressmember Jane Corwin’s campaign website. JaneCorwin.ORG (the fake) mimics JaneCorwin.COM (the real deal) down to small details, but where the official site is typical political pablum, the parody blasts the candidate with humor that veers from rude to surreal to unabashedly juvenile.
For instance, while the real site’s splash screen asks people to “Sign up and be the first to receive updates from Jane Corwin” because “Together we can build a bright future that is lit with prosperity and opportunity,” the parody version informs us that “Together we can make delicious soup from the bones of the poor” and invites the reader to “Sign up now to be served by Jane Corwin,” asking for both blood type and taste. Campaign slogan? “Challenging the Status Quo & Protecting Your Tax Dollars” becomes “Protecting the Status Quo & Taking Your Tax Dollars.”
May 1st, 2011
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