WATPA: FW: Obama Election Ushering In First Internet Presidency

From: Norman Jacknis <norm@jacknis.com>
Date: Tue Nov 18 2008 - 14:38:35 EST

Obama Election Ushering In First Internet Presidency

Pioneering use of Web 2.0 and social networking technologies by the
president-elect's campaign has seemingly transformed politics, and could
influence government as well.

By Mitch Wagner,
> InformationWeek
Nov. 5, 2008




The 2008 presidential election marked two great changes of the guard. The
biggest immediate change, of course, was the election of an African-American
Democrat as the next president of the United States.

But perhaps a bigger change over the long term was the crowning of the
Internet as the king of all political media. It was the end of the era of
television presidency that started with JFK, and the beginning of the
Internet presidency.

"Barack Obama built the biggest network of supporters we've seen, using the
Internet to do it," Joe Trippi, an Internet political and business
consultant who pioneered the use of the Internet in politics managing Howard
Dean campaign in 2004, and who managed John Edwards' campaign in this
election, told InformationWeek. "I don't think there's any doubt that
communication through YouTube and other social networks put him over the

Obama used a combination of television, the Internet, and social media to
recruit volunteers and supporters, and cement relationships with them. He
asked supporters to supply their cell phone numbers, and sent out regular
text-message blasts, even announcing
tml> his selection for vice president over text message. Using a custom
social networking site, created with the help of a Facebook co-founder,
Obama supporters were able to log in and find lists of people they could
call, or whose doors they could knock on, to try to persuade others to vote
for their candidate.

And it's only the beginning, said Trippi. That kind of networking will
likely transform the White House. Trippi anticipates Obama will create a
similar social networking for his legislative initiatives and recruit
supporters to lobby Congress to get his policies enacted into law.

The result will be further increase of presidential power and the erosion of
congressional authority. "Congress will be put between a rock and a hard
place, if millions of citizens sign up to help the president pass his
agenda," Trippi said. "If the president says, 'Here are the members of
Congress who stand in the way of us passing health care reform,' I would not
want to be one of those people. You'll have 10 or 15 million networked
Americans barging in on the members of Congress telling them to get in line
with the program and pass the health care reform bill. That will be a power
that no American president has had before. Congress' power will be taken
over by the American people."

The Obama administration is expected to build on a foundation of grassroots
support in his private social network, on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.
YouTube users alone spent 14.5 million hours watching official Barack Obama
campaign videos -- and that isn't even including user-generated videos,
Trippi said, adding that amount of network time for political commercials
would have cost $46 million -- and, while YouTube users requested the videos
and therefore most likely watched them, there's no way to tell whether
anybody's watching TV commercials.

The Obama campaign used Google Maps mashups to help volunteers find local
campaign resources and people to contact and try to persuade. And, of
course, it used the Internet to solicit donations. Some 3.2 million people
donated to the Obama campaign through its Web site.

eID=88&articleID=TK> Election Night In Second Life
(click image
for larger view)
Election Night In Second Life <http://i.cmpnet.com/infoweek/spacer.gif>
Avatars gather on Election Night at the Obama campaign headquarters in
Second Life.

Obama's Facebook page <http://www.facebook.com/barackobama> has 2.6 million
supporters. Obama's official
Facebook application has 161,000 active users, who used the application to
share news items, blog posts, speeches, and videos.

The BarackObama <http://twitter.com/BarackObama> Twitter account has about
123,000 followers, making it the most popular account on Twitter
<http://twitterholic.com/> , according to the Twitter tracking site

By comparison, John McCain's <http://www.facebook.com/johnmccain> Facebook
page had 624,000 supporters.

The statistics mashup tool Trendrr.com <http://www.trendrr.com/> reported
that Obama was mentioned in nearly 500 million blog posts since the
conventions at the end of August. During the same period, only about 150
million posts mentioned McCain. On social networks, Obama led, with 844,927
MySpace friends compared with McCain's 219,404, according
hp> to the Web 2.0 blog ReadWriteWeb.

Joe Baker is one Obama volunteer who used the Internet to help work for his
candidate. He worked in an Obama campaign office in Chico, Calif., making
phone calls to persuade voters, staffing the front desk, taking donations,
and greeting people and taking donations. Baker is a disabled, retired Army

He praised the Neighbor to Neighbor application on the Obama Web site as a
means of getting out the vote. Obama supporters in swing states could log on
to the Obama Web site and get a phone list of people in their neighborhoods
to call and encourage them to vote for Obama. Baker and his colleagues in
Chico used the site to coordinate with Democrats in Reno, Nev., to persuade
Nevada voters to support Obama.

"MyBarackObama was very much a key place," Baker said. "The tenet of the
campaign was to always send people directly to what Obama had said." The
campaign made that easy by making Obama's position papers, statements, and
videos readily available. "They didn't necessarily want us to tell people
our opinions, they wanted it to be representative of what Obama thought."

Baker, whose injuries sustained in Vietnam and subsequent military service
make it difficult for him to stand or walk for long periods, is active in
Second Life, using the name "Willys Faulkes." He built an Obama campaign
headquarters in the virtual world, where supporters could download campaign
literature and get in discussions with other Obama supporters, undecided
voters, and McCain supporters as well -- the Republican campaign also had
supporters in Second Life.

Obama's Internet candidacy should be a lesson for business as well, said
Trippi, who does both political and business consulting on the use of the
Internet. "You have to change your whole way of thinking," he said. "You're
going to lose control of your brand to a large degree, unless you create
networks to change your brand."

Historically, businesses have sought to be big and controlling Goliaths, and
the Internet and social networks are becoming armies of Davids. "You don't
want to be Goliath anymore, you want to be the guys handing out the
slingshots," Trippi said.

For example: The traditional recording industry is a Goliath, trying to
force people to continue to buy whole albums and CDs to get one good song.
The army of Davids consists of consumers downloading music.

Apple is the company selling slingshots, in the form of iPods and iTunes.


Received on Tue Nov 18 14:38:39 2008

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