Yesterday’s “Hashtags ain’t winnin’ no elections on MY watch” article stirred up the expected reaction on Twitter, with Alan Rosenblatt among others making cogent points to counter my bold declaration. But, Asher Huey wins the prize: he coined a new hashtag, #ColinDelanyIsWrong, which I shall now wear as a badge of honor (another casualty was regular contributor Beth Becker, who earned the tag #BethBeckerIsACrazyLOLcatsLady because, well, she’s a crazy LOLcats lady). Good times all around! Can’t wait until #ColinDelanyIsWrong is scrawled illegibly on fine bathroom walls across The Nation’s Capital — only then, finally, will I have Arrived.
Here’s a little something for your calendar: the 2011 CampaignTech Conference (the spiritual successor to the long-running PoliticsOnline Conference, which was dear to my heart) will take place in November right here in the lovely D of C. I’ll be speaking on a panel about assembling an activist blogger network, one of many discussions that should completely rock. Here are the details; I’d love to see you there.
The 2011 CampaignTech Conference, will be held on November 10 and 11 in Washington, DC. It’s being hosted by Campaigns & Elections magazine, and CampaignTech sessions are designed specifically for the practitioners in the political space and crafted for your role in the political process.
Candidates will gain the insights they need to communicate effectively in the digital era and learn how to avoid common pitfalls.
Campaign professionals will learn how to incorporate the latest and most effective digital tactics into their electoral arsenals.
Non-profit advocates will refine their digital organizing and outreach skills in preparation for the election year.
Technologists will gain intellectual nourishment and inspiration from each other — and their heroes outside the profession.
The conference is also hosting the 2011 CampaignTech Innovator Awards, designed to recognize achievement in digital politics and advocacy. Nominations are open until October 14, 2011. If you’re interested in attending, check out the agenda and register online.
But of course, hashtags don’t care who types them in, and conservatives quickly jumped on #attackwatch and began using it as a platform to make fun of the President. Hashtag hijacks are nothing new (liberals and conservatives do it to each other all the time), but this one was prominent enough that it attracted media attention and led to claims that Obama has lost his online mojo (something helped by the fact that Attackwatch.com’s design is harsh on the eyes and on the campaign’s potential opponents — not exactly happy-friendly-hopey Obama ’08).
Bachmann did this to great effect in August, when she won the Republican straw poll in Iowa in part by zeroing in on the Facebook pages of potential supporters who lived nearby. Facebookers who had identified themselves as Tea Party supporters or Christian rock fans, or who had posted messages in favor of tax cuts or against abortion, found an ad from Bachmann waiting for them on their profile page in the weeks before the vote, asking for their support and directing them to a link where they could arrange a free ride to the polling place. Bachmann’s campaign says a significant portion of the people who pushed her over the top in Iowa — they won’t say how many — came as a result of the ad campaign.
Here’s a little dramatization of a conversation that most online communicators have had in some form or another:
Over at the day job, one of my colleagues tossed around the idea of using the video-creation site xtranormal for a project, so I figured it might be fun to figure out how it works. The basic idea — you write a script, choose the characters and setting, insert sounds, gestures, camera angles and other refinements, and the system narrates your dialogue and animates the characters in 3-D. The results of my first foray are above. If you like it, spread the word! Having a video about the difficulty of making a video go viral go viral would be meta.
Many of the xtranormal videos that have caught on with a big audience have followed a similar formula as this one: the jokes that work tend to be those whose humor relies on repetition and deadpan delivery, since characters say the same lines exactly the same way every time. Often they pair a young, naive character repeating the same desire to join a profession with a jaded veteran of the field trying to disillusion them (several others feature cartoon bears using profanity, which is automatically funny, too).
All told, this video took about four hours to write, “shoot,” and edit, much of which was spent tweaking the details. It’d be fun to turn the basic idea into a series looking at other absurdities of the online comms world, but we’ll see if time and creativity allow.
Update: Apparently, this feature has been in the VAN since it started…which is even better.
Political data nerds LOVE to use tools like the VAN backend voter management system to slice and dice outreach lists by all kinds of criteria — age, location, voting history, and….star sign?
Yep, the VAN’s database now allows users to select voter files by their astrological sign. Want to reach all Scorpios in a given congressional district? Now you can, as shown in the screen shot below (dropped off in the e.politics bunker by a friendly little bird).
Is “what’s your sign?” the burning new question in political polling, taking us back to the Age of Aquarius? Will block-walkers now need to wear gold medallions and carry pet rocks? Regardless of how useful a feature this is, I’m sure the VAN’s programmers had fun with it…and keeping the techies amused is a good way to keep them working.
Speaking of staying amused, note that the database keeps track of “targets,” “scores,” “household party counts” and “household sex counts”…damn, now THAT’S the kind of data-tracking we here at Epolitics.com can endorse!
Hi folks, here’s one reason things have been a little quiet around here lately — I’ve been seeing other people. Specifically, the fine people over at Campaigns & Elections magazine, who’ve decided that a little e.politics magic is just what their esteemed publication needs. Here’s the scoop: I’m now writing/editing a regular tech-related section that we’re provisionally calling “Technology Bytes.” Like Epolitics.com, it’ll focus on the mechanics of digital politics, with an eye toward puncturing the hype and looking at what bits of technology that campaigns really NEED to watch.
The first column went in yesterday, with one sizable piece and a couple of smaller companions to keep it company, along with some numbers as fodder for the magazine layout guy’s infographic skillz. I’d LOVE to be able to feature outside writers in future columns, and I’ll also definitely be looking for article ideas. So, pitch me baby, pitch me one more time! And of course, you’ll see a link here as soon as the first installment goes online. Good fun all around.
Looking for a different way to follow President Obama’s jobs speech this evening? Try “Sunlight Live:”
As you tune in tonight, consider checking out the Sunlight Foundation’s “Sunlight Live” coverage of the speech. Sunlight Live combines streaming video, government transparency data and social media coverage, to provide insight to the proposals, people and policies mentioned during major political events.
It’s kind of like pop-up video (remember that on VH1 so many years ago?)…as politicians speak, we fact-check them in real time with a cover-it-live embed, alongside data cards that highlight what campaign contributions and lobbying likely influenced how they frame issues.
Cool idea — basically, annotation of the speech as it happens, the kind of coverage that television simply doesn’t provide. Of course, plenty of folks will live-blog or live-tweet the speech, but an unfiltered Twitter-frenzy doesn’t exactly lend itself to clarity. Give Sunlight Live a try and see what you think.
Epolitics.com may have taken the last couple of weeks of summer off, but SOME people have more of a work ethic — among them regular contributor Beth Becker (@spedwybabs). Check out her latest treatise below, where she lays out Ten Commandments for Campaign Social Media, which she’ll follow soon with more detail. Take it away, Beth:
At first glance, these two statements may seem mutually exclusive. They are not.
A campaign cannot win by using social media only. A campaign can have all the Facebook “likes” in the world, millions of followers on Twitter and Visible Vote, and if the rest of the campaign doesn’t exist, they won’t win.
On the other hand, if a campaign has a solid field plan and knows which doors to knock on, which homes to call; if a campaign has a solid fundraising program and plan for constructive spending of that money, that campaign cannot win the election without the use of social media to augment everything else they are doing.
In my consulting practice, if I had dime for every campaign that was so excited to be using social media but had no field plan, no fundraising, no message calendar and no ground game of any kind, I’d be able to fund all of the Progressive organizations I’d like to.