But it probably wasn’t the video you expect not the now-legenday Yes We Can Obama anthem, it was the relatively dry piece below by Stanford professor and potential Congressional candidate Lawrence Lessig:
Like its Will.i.am music video counterpart, Lissig’s video reflects its creator’s medium of choice: it’s essentially the YouTube version of a Lessig stage presentation, a quick-cutting PowerPoint with a voiceover. And though it’s been viewed many fewer times than Yes We Can, in this case it was particularly well targeted, since the voter in question is my sister-in-law, a Linux expert at IBM in Austin. Why did it work? First, she respects Lessig and has read his columns and articles and seen him speak. Second, in the video, he lays out what he sees as clear, logical grounds to support Obama over Hillary Clinton, and I suspect that Emily responded to such a reasoned approach. Since Lessig was speaking, copyright of course came up, but the vast majority of the video covered other issues, and soon after she watched it, Emily told my brother that she’d not only switched support to Obama but donated to him online.
To put this in context, let’s go all the way back to April of ’07 and something Michael Connery said:
“…viral video, which will rise from within and appeal to certain online and offline niche communities…So when the next smash viral hit of the cycle emerges, don’t forget that there were a few hundred others that didn’t get noticed, but may have just as much if not more of an impact on our democracy and our politics.”
Absolutely, for every Will.i.am, there are dozens and hundreds and thousands and hundreds of thousands more trying to persuade their viewers, readers, listeners and pets how to vote in the days ahead. Different people will respond to different appeals, but the genius of a technology that turns the passionate and creative among us loose is that each of those different niches is likely to have a message aimed right at it. Just as Lessig’s was aimed right at my sister-in-law.