Archive for October, 2011

Enter the Coders: #Occupy Hackathons This Weekend

Everybody step back: the programmers are entering the building. Without the need for formal leadership, folks are self-organizing hackathons to help build digital tools for the Occupy Wall Street movement this weekend. So far, events are planned in three cities:

Stock up on the Mountain Dew and Cheetos, kids! These events are a great example of how multi-faceted a modern grassroots political movement can be. Sure, plenty of people are camping out on Wall Street and in cities across the country, but that’s not the only way we can be involved. Here’s a great opportunity for the ones-and-zeroes crowd to contribute their skillz and experience to what’s shaping up to be a pivotal development in our contemporary political culture. Even if the mainstream media didn’t notice it until people started getting arrested.

cpd

4 comments October 14th, 2011 Trackback Bookmark on del.icio.us

By the Numbers: How Social Media Coverage of Occupy Wall Street Beat the Mainstream Media

Also published on HuffingtonPost

Nate Silver had a great piece in the Times over the weekend, looking at how clashes with police seem to have driven mainstream media coverage of the Occupy Wall Street protests (a classic example of the principle of “if it bleeds, it leads”). The centerpiece of his article is the chart below, showing the pattern of relevant media hits:

Nate Silver's graph of msm coverage of Occupy Wall Street

Nate’s article made me wonder about the comparable pattern of discussion on social media channels, a far more democratic (with a small “d”) set of media. Our new friend Steve Kleine was able to produce the social media numbers for “Occupy Wall Street” and “OWS,” hot on the heels of his first article for the site, and the results are striking:

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1 comment October 13th, 2011 Trackback Bookmark on del.icio.us

Four Steps for Effective Social Media Monitoring in Politics

New guest author! Steve Kleine is the Principal at Ensomo, a social media monitoring and analysis firm, and in the piece below he introduces us to the basic concepts campaigns need to know about this ever-more-important aspect of online communications.

Four Steps for Effective Social Media Monitoring in Politics

By Steve Kleine, Ensomo

Social media monitoring (SMM) is rapidly becoming a hot topic as campaigns and elected officials realize just how much unbiased data is being churned out about their candidates every day across the social web. The social media universe truly has become the world’s largest focus group. Many campaigns are taking advantage of this huge mass of data to not only communicate with their current and potential supporters, but also to gain significant intelligence on potential voters.

For example, social media data can provide insight on how a particular speech or debate was received. Did it increase the number of positive mentions? Are people understanding the messages behind it? Other examples of the benefits of a solid SMM plan include measuring how a candidate is perceived on current issues, finding new issues before they get covered in traditional media and seeing if a new ad campaign is making an impact.

SMM is a daunting task, but a well thought out strategy can help your campaign find the best program for your unique needs. Here are a few steps to help you get started.

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5 comments October 13th, 2011 Trackback Bookmark on del.icio.us

And One Really GOOD Online Idea: WhichMitt.com

Rest assured, I am not entirely filled with bile and bad juju today, despite all evidence to the contrary. To prove it, here are some words of praise for a GOOD idea that stumbled into the old e.politics bunker this week: the DNC’s “WhichMitt” website, a fun way to get across the idea that Mitt Romney may have changed his mind a time or two over the years.

The site follows the ever-popular quiz format, presenting you with two possible-but-contradictory Mitt Romney quotes at a time and asking you to choose which one the presumed Republican presidential front-runner actually said. Surprise! In each case he said both, which the site proves with video evidence. Nice work all around — though a simple idea, it’s well executed (example: you can either take the quiz in order or skip directly to all the answers, a user-friendly touch). It works particularly well because it reinforces an impression voters and the political commentariat already have of Romney, that he might lack a certain amount of political consistency (i.e, his ideological compass is perpetually set on “spin”).

And Loyal Readers, please note — conservative online ideas may have fared poorly here earier today while a Democratic one received praise above, but that’s no sign that Epolitics.com will be going easy on the Left in the coming months. I’m on the liberal side myself, but bad ideas come from all directions, and this site is firmly on the side of equal-opportunity ridicule. E.pol sez, bring it on.

cpd

1 comment October 12th, 2011 Trackback Bookmark on del.icio.us

Today’s Really Bad Online Ideas: Politico’s Primary, “We Are the 53%”

Update: For contrast, c.f. today’s actual GOOD online idea, WhichMitt.com.

The internet is a really good place to spread ideas. Unfortunately, some of those ideas are really, really bad. Today’s examples of the latter:

  • The Politico Primary: “The public has had it with Washington and conventional politics. It has lost trust and respect in the conventional governing class.” So what does Politico do? “Nominate” Condi Rice, Erskine Bowles, Jon Huntsman, perennial “centrist” love-target Michael Bloomberg and other members of the conventional governing class to be its dream candidates to lead us to the promised land of policy goodness. Bah! And, Bah, again! What mushy-middle, un-self-aware drivel.
  • We Are the 53%, Erick Erickson’s utterly painful, unintentionally ironic “answer” to the Occupy Wall Street-aligned We are the 99% blog. Watch as everyday people who are actually getting screwed by the system worship their slave-chains in front of us all! Learn about creativity from the almost-immediate online spoof response (via Alex Pareene)! Find why Erickson’s whole site’s raison d’etre is based on a misconception! (Hint: EVERYONE pays taxes, even if they don’t pay federal INCOME taxes.) It’s so brave of Erickson to take on the parasites among us — you know, the people who make so little money that the government gives them a pass on taxes, except for when they pay sales taxes, payroll taxes, gas taxes, property taxes, etc., ad nauseum. Don’t forget the old people on Social Security! Granny, you and your cats are a stalking-horse for communism.

Please, please, somebody save me — I don’t think I can take much more of this.

cpd

2 comments October 12th, 2011 Trackback Bookmark on del.icio.us

The Revolution Will Be Live-Tweeted, and Here’s How to Do It

Whether or not hashtags will win anything for anyone in 2012, we can be sure that every major event related to the elections will be live-tweeted, just as the Occupy Wall Street protests have been. Over at the New Organizing Institute’s blog today, my friend Melissa Ryan has some excellent advice for people using Twitter to cover rallies and other gatherings as they happen. Some of her tips:

  • Don’t worry about covering everything (just cover what you can).
  • Promote the work of your fellow live-tweeters.
  • Stay with the (hashtag) trends. Respect the hashtags being used by your fellow tweeters and be aware that they sometimes change or evolve.
  • Stay charged (with electrical power).
  • Have a backup (networks fail at the worst moments).

I’d definitely echo her points, particularly the ones about covering what you can and about promoting the work of others. When we’ve live-tweeted events for my day job at NWLC, I’ve typically stayed in the office to retweet posts from our participants over the organization’s main Twitter feed. This way, we get individual perspectives that add up to much more, particularly when we supplement our own posts with retweets of those from outside activists and organizations.

Every piece helps to create a fuller picture of what’s happening for people around the world who are following along, often literally, since different people will tweet photos of different aspects of the event. Plus, retweeting other activists helps you share the love, which they’ll likely do in return. And you never know who’ll be the one to capture that magic Macaca moment.

cpd

1 comment October 11th, 2011 Trackback Bookmark on del.icio.us

Congrats! SalsaLabs, EngageDC’s Multiply Platform, & Ruck.Us Featured in Mashable

Congrats to SalsaLabs and EngageDC! Both were featured in top social media site Mashable.com last night, in an article called 2012 Election: 3 Digital Platforms Poised to Change the Conversation, by Maegan Carberry. It’s always fascinating to see what organizing tools stand out to people who aren’t embedded in the political realm day-to-day, and besides these two, Carberry also picked up on the political organizing site Ruck.us. Let’s look at each in turn:

Multiply

Multiply comes from EngageDC, the firm led by veteran Republican online political pros Patrick Ruffini and Mindy Finn. It’s based around the idea of applying gaming concepts to political actions in social online spaces, basically rewarding people with points, prizes and recognition for taking action. It’s a model that’s worked well for FourSquare, which gives people Badges and Mayorships for “checking in” at various physical locations, and I’m curious to see if it takes off as a political mobilizer. My guess is that the points system will be icing on the cake for most activists, since people who are driven to help a political campaign are likely to do it for the internal reward of Doing The Right Thing and Supporting Their Team. But even if all Multiply does is push additional engagement at the margins, every bit helps a campaign. We’ll see!

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Add comment October 4th, 2011 Trackback Bookmark on del.icio.us

Overview: Social Media and 2012 Political Campaigns

The latest from regular contributor Beth Becker (@spedwybabs).

Overview: Social Media and 2012 Political Campaigns

By Beth Becker

We’re deep into the 2011 cycle and campaigns all across the country are starting to gear up for 2012. Many of those campaigns are pondering the digital landscape and wondering how it fits into the rest of their campaign strategy. Let’s take a quick survey of just how a campaign today might use social media/social networking to assist in claiming victory in November 2012.

The first rule to keep in mind is that while a campaign most likely can’t win without social media use in 2012, no campaign will win based solely on their social media strategy. This point can’t be emphasized enough and leads to one of the essential social media campaign caveats: social media is not just a communication tool to be subordinated to your Communications department.

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3 comments October 3rd, 2011 Trackback Bookmark on del.icio.us

Why the Internet is a Natural for Al-Qaeda…and Ron Paul

Killed alongside Al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Aulaqi in Yemen by an American missile last week: Samir Khan, Aulaqui’s chief online communicator:

Jarret Brachman, a counterterrorism expert and government consultant who analyzed Khan’s writings, described Khan as a “partner in crime” to Aulaqi who was clearly “soaking in as much knowledge as possible” from the older man.

Working together, the two had become effective as propagandists and recruiters, with Khan’s articles complementing Aulaqi’s Internet sermons and essays. For al-Qaeda, the loss of both men at once is a serious blow, he said.

“If it’s true that both were killed, then al-Qaeda’s English-language outreach program is dead,” Brachman said.

It shouldn’t be a surprise that an online communicator would be a central figure in the most active chapter of a worldwide terrorist organization — this IS 2011, after all. And despite the irony of a group with a medieval mindset depending so much on technology, the internet is a natural tool for a group like Al-Qaeda. Here’s why: though they’d love to spark a mass movement in the Muslim world, their immediate need is to find the small number of people in the West who might be willing to kill themselves and others for their cause (they need Europeans or Americans because they can move freely in the target countries). And as activist groups of all political stripes have found, the internet excels at niche targeting — if you post it, the people who might be interested can find it, regardless of where they live.

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Add comment October 2nd, 2011 Trackback Bookmark on del.icio.us

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