Political Technology

YouTube to be fully on Mobile Devices by 2007

This Reuters story shows YouTube/Google’s strategy for mobile devices more clearly than anything I’d seen publicly before…They plan to have the full service mobilized by end of 2007. And folks thought viral video was a factor in this years election, just wait for 08:

“Chad Hurley, YouTube chief executive and co-founder, told an advertising conference that offering video services on mobile phones was a key opportunity for the company.

“Within the next year we hope to have something on a mobile device, it’s going to be a huge market, especially for the video mind-set we’re dealing with, it’s a natural transition,” said Hurley…

In May, YouTube launched its YouTube To Go service to enable users to upload clips directly from their mobile phones to view on the Web site on their personal computers.

Already many of the clips seen on YouTube are captured by users with their cellphones. A new mobile service could enable users to share videos with others in the YouTube community directly via their phones.”

More evidence of the decline of live, broadcast TV

The Times has an important story today detailing the extraordinary impact DVRs are having on television:

..."Only 52.7 percent of DVR users who watched prime-time shows on CBS tuned in during the live broadcast in the last week of September. An additional 19.4 percent of viewers watched their recorded CBS shows later that day; about 8 percent one day later; 7 percent 2 days later; nearly 4.7 percent tuned in after 3 days; the rest watched even later.

Until yesterday Nielsen planned to release commercial ratings for DVR viewers based on three lengths of time: viewers who watched the original broadcast; viewers who watch either the original broadcast or who watch it later the same day; and those who watched it within a week.

TV networks would like all viewers who watch the program within one week to be counted, but ad agencies say many of their commercials are time-sensitive because they feature sales or events planned within a few days..."

The implications for all this for politics are very significant.  By 2008 DVR penetration in the US is expected to be a third of all television households, which may translate into as many as half of all voters.  We've already seen an extraordinary migration in recent years from broadcast to cable, as only about 45% of anyone watching TV at a given time today are watching the traditional over the air live broadcast television networks.  With this trend continuing, and DVR penetration at least doubling in the next 24 months, it is reasonable to assume that only a third of all TV viewers by 2008 will be watching live, over the air broadcast networks at any given time. 

The debate detailed in this story is whether the owners of television will allow Nielsen to track how people watch TV commercials.  The current system allows tracking of the watching of the show itself.  But with half of all consumers in this study watching a recorded version of the program, allowing of course for the skipping of the TV ads, it becomes essential to understand whether in the watching of these shows folks are watching ads any longer, and which ads they are watching. 

As Alan Wurtzel, chief of research at NBC says in the piece, “As the DVR penetration increases, the way people watch TV is simply going to change,”  

Those using only broadcast - which is still the pre-eminent way people in politics spend their money - will clearly be at a tremendous disadvantage.  As I wrote yesterday, it is clearly time for a big re-think of how we do media on the progressive side. 

Two New Media Political Efforts to Check Out

In the final days of the campaign two new media efforts caught my eye...

Firstly, as much as viral video has been a part of various elections, I came across one implementation that would reward attention.

In the online video space in addition to YouTube and it's various clones, another there is a company called Brightcove...I've been a fan of their solution for a while now...it is a commercial platform for ad supported or subscription commercial net delivered video content. This allows small or large businesses to stream their content to users over the Internet, but it also gives buisnesses nearly complete control over the user interface, branding, unlike services such as YouTube.

The first political effort I've seen using Brightcove solution is Deval Patrick in the Massachusets Governor's race...Check out Deval Patrick TV to get a sense of what Brightcove enables, and what they did with it... Good stuff.

Secondly, in a season that saw the first nascent mobile efforts by folks like John Edwards, Arnold Schwarzenegger's, Rick Santorum, etc...I've come across the best integrated mobile call to action in a traditional campaign commercial that I've seen yet. It's from the Coalition for Progress...Here it is...



The Political Backstory: More Trauma in Traditional Media, this time, Newspapers

I know we are putting out all political news all the time, but it bears pointing out another striking story this week on the trauma of traditional media, the bread and butter of politics of the past. I commented last week on the severe trauma in broadcast television companies, particularly NBC. But this week the news was just as severe, if not more so, for traditional newspapers.

The New York Times had a very good overarching story on how ALL major newspapers in the country (save three strange exceptions) significantly lost circulation in the last six months, in what is proving to be an inexorable slide. Even in the best papers:

The Los Angeles Times lost 8 percent of its daily circulation and 6 percent on Sunday. The Boston Globe, owned by The New York Times Company, lost 6.7 percent of its daily circulation and almost 10 percent on Sunday.”

As we have pointed out repeatedly at the New Politics Institute, you can track this decline right alongside the appearance of personal computers and the growth in the internet. In fact, the Times points out that the peak of daily newspaper circulation came in 1984, which happens to be the year the IBM PC made its appearance. Since then, newspaper have lost 20 million subscriptions, a full one-third of the peak. From the NYT:

“Circulation for about half the nation's dailies had dropped to 43.7 million, down 2.8 percent, for the six months ending in September, compared with the same period last year. Daily circulation for all of the nation's papers reached its peak in 1984, at 63.3 million.”

The good news is that those papers that are shifting their strategy around the internet are seeing substantial success, though not enough yet to make up for the broadsheet revenue losses. However, you can see the seeds of a rebirth:

“The newspaper association said that for the third quarter of this year, 57 million people visited a newspaper Web site, an increase of 24 percent over the period a year ago. And revenues from online advertisers are growing.”

Politics has been conducted for the 20th century on the backs of two major media: newspapers and broadcast television. The 21st century will be very different. We are seeing irrefutable signs of it all around us.

Peter Leyden

More Writing on the Wall: Google buys a startup of collaborative wikis

We can see now that Google is going big time into social software, the area that rival search engine Yahoo! had been leading in. Google just announced that they are buying Jotspot, a leading company helping popularize wikis, or software that allows many, many people to write and edit on the same document.

Wikis have yet to go mainstream, but they are proving to be very useful among more techie crowds. It allows people from all over the world to easily work on common projects, such as an attempt to create a bottom-up encyclopedia, or wikipedia.

Google’s purchase will give a boost to popularize the tools. Jotspot itself was known for making wikis much more user friendly, by adopting many of the conventions that people are used to in word processing programs like Microsoft Word. The two together will help spread the word.

Not long ago a good rule of thumb was that Google relied more on advanced technology in their offerings, while Yahoo! focused more on user input and social software. Yahoo made some early purchases, like that of Flickr, the photo-sharing company, that started to stake out that turf. But now Google is jumping on the bandwagon with its recent acquisition of YouTube and now Jotspot. The trend is becoming clear….

Peter Leyden

AP/AOL Poll: 35 Percent of Americans Get Election Info Online

One more bit of political technology polling news, this time about the web and politics. AP and AOL News studied Americans use of the Web this election. It's results strongly supports the NPI New Tools Campaign, and it's push for campaigns to engage the blogs and the web...

This AP news article summarizes: “The poll, released Friday, suggested that some 35 percent of Americans, or 43 percent of likely voters, go online for election information.

More than half, 51 percent, of those who describe themselves as liberals are more likely to obtain election information from the Internet compared with 42 percent of moderates and 39 percent of conservatives, according to the AP/AOL News poll.

The poll also found nearly a quarter, 24 percent, of respondents who spy the Net for political news indicated they have accessed a blog during this election season. About 10 percent of Internet users have accessed a message board, chat room or blog to participate in election discussions.”

Also, along with the power of the blogs, this highlights the power of political web sites in general: 45% of Americans who go online for political news went to non-blog “political sites” to get informed about issues and candidates in prep for the next election. From the polling:

“For each of the following, please tell me if you have used this resource as a way of obtaining information about candidates and the campaign for the upcoming congressional elections on the Internet, or not. How about . . . ?”

News sites Yes: 86 No: 14
Political sites Yes: 46 No: 54
Candidate sites Yes: 36 No: 64
Blogs Yes: 24 No:76

Pew Research: 1 in 10 Americans Have Cut the Cord and are Cellphone Only

Here is an interesting poll just out measuring the effect of cell phone only users on political polling….

Highlights to me:

  • It concludes that 1 in 10 Americans have no landline connection and use their cell phone exclusively…
  • It concludes that this fact doesn’t - yet - skew poltical polling as this subset of the overall population is relatively similar to the larger superst of all of us

But it does show a few political differences between the Cellphone-only sample and the general population:

  • Cell phone only users are younger (49% of them are under 30 years old, vs. 13% of the general sample)
  • They are slightly more likely to vote Democratic this election (by about 4%)
  • They are slightly more progressive than conservative (by about 6%)
  • They are more Hispanic by more than double than rate the general sample (15% of the cell users are Hispanic vs 6% of the general sample)
  • They are other mixed ethinic by double than the general sample (9% vs 4% of the general sample)
  • They are slightly more African American than the general sample (16% vs. 11% of the general sample)
  • They are MUCH more likely to be single and never married (55% vs. 15% in the general sample )
  • They are currently less likely to be a registered voter this election (49% of them are currently registered vs. 76% in the general sample)
  • They are more likely to be a first time voter (17% of them are, vs. 5% of the general sample)

Voila! Using new web tools for democracy

Ever heard of the website opensecrets.org? How about MAPLight.org?

Aimed mostly at hackers and others of superior techie skill, Wired reports on how the web is mobilizing into the Web 2.0. The goal is simple: “grassroots participation, forging new connections, and empowering from the ground up. The ideal democratic process is participatory and the Web 2.0 phenomenon is about democratizing digital technology.”

At a time when we seem to think that everything is as good as it can get and technology has advanced about as far as it can go, it is still a field of constant innovation. Cell phones get smaller, computers get faster, and some envision an internet community that allows for transparency by tracing campaign dollars. Not only that, but Web 2.0 would be used to track other problems, and create better, faster solutions.

Echoing the passions of Kos, our technology can create “new ways to make government responsive to the public, and to magnify the individual power of each educated and informed voter.”

My relationship to television is changing

Tonight my two sons and I watched two of the most famous soccer teams in the world, Real Madrid and FC Barcelona, play each other on television.  It was on a cable channel called GolTV, that had commercials in English and Spanish, and we watched a recording we had made earlier in the day on our Comcast DVR. 

A few months ago I would have never ever been able to see this game.  That's when we switched to Comcast, ordered a special soccer package and finally got a DVR (digital video recorder).  Since getting this new system I watch more TV, but it is much more of what I want to watch when I want to watch it.  And for my family, with two young active boys, it has meant much more sports. 

For example, last week I recorded the Mets games and we watched portions in the morning when the boys were awake.  Without this new magical DVR we would not have been able to see Carlos Delgado's great series, or the remarkable catch by Endy Chavez.  This thing has certainly changed our lives.  And you get the sense it is only the beginning.  

We have written a great deal about this media transformation at NPI.  But the growing power of sports programming in this new world is a major reason why our affiliate, the NDN political fund, has been running a national television and radio campaign - mas que un partido - connecting soccer, Democratic values and Latinos.  There is no question that in this increasingly balkanized media environment sports programming is rising in importance, and is something as progressives we simply must do a better job understanding, and connecting to.    

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