Political Technology

New NPI Study Released: Use Search

Today NDN's affiliate the New Politics Insitute released the third installment of the four-part Tools Checklist, entitled Use Search.

The web is becoming an undeniably powerful force in American politics today. The standard talking point for this is now two months old--George Allen's "macaca moment" (a single posting of which on YouTube shows nearly 23,000 views). Simon is quoted in this MSNBC article, "Ninety percent of people buying cars do research online first...In the Internet age, we can expect the same for politics."

People are doing their political homework on the web now, and if you want to be found, we strongly recommend our new study.

And as always, you can get emails regarding our latest releases by signing up here

Google Buys YouTube, and Video on the Web Enters a New Phase

It’s official. Google bought YouTube for $1.65 billion today. The breaking news linked here came off (where else?) Google News. All the details will come spilling out in the next few days, but for now, keep in mind the significance.

If there was ever any doubt about the inexorable migration of television and all motion media to the web, then this purchase should clear the doubt. In other places, we have talked about last fall, September 2005, as being the starting point for this migration. And, here we are with YouTube, the bottom-up video phenom, with less than 75 employees, fetching $1.65 billion – all before it reached its first birthday.

Now YouTube will be able to be supercharged with the resources of Google, one of the world’s most flush companies, whose core business is selling extremely effective targeted advertising on the web.

Something is bound to come of this. Will it be the advertising model for motion media on the web? The definitive way to search for video (using some new technology that analyses spoken word, etc.)?

Who knows? We’re still in early days. But this was crossing a big threshold.

Peter Leyden

A Backlash against the Netroots Backlash

A long, interesting and spirited defence of the role and importance of the Netroots, from the latest Boston Review.

The New York Times columnist David Brooks writes that Kos “fires up his Web site . . . and commands his followers, who come across like squadrons of rabid lambs, to unleash their venom on those who stand in the way.” The New Republic senior editor Lee Siegel (now suspended) warns portentously of the dangers of “blogofascism,” a movement bearing worrying similarities to the Fascist forces that transformed post–World War I Europe into a “madhouse of deracinated ambition.” ... These claims are hysterical to the point of near-incoherence. They’re also wrong. The netroots are becoming a power in the Democratic Party, but they aren’t under the control of any one person or clique.

After fending off the critics, the piece also has a few ideas about what comes next.

Creating a coherent ideological agenda will be far harder for the netroots than opposing Republicans or turncoat Democrats like Joe Lieberman. But it offers enormous political possibilities. The “new” union movement of the SEIU and the Change to Win coalition provides one example of how it might be done. As prominent netroots bloggers recognize, the SEIU has a lot in common with the netroots—it aims to replace a top-heavy structure with a more dynamic and aggressive approach to union organizing. But it is also providing organizational firepower and intellectual input for John Edwards’s campaign to change the economic message of the Democratic Party, and to make it more attractive to voters whose economic interests have been trampled by Republicans and their enablers.

For an excellent overview of what the bloggers are all about, have a look at the video of Kos giving his take on the story of the blogs, at NPI's shiny new website.  

Online Tools For the Last Weeks of the Campaign

As we approach the final weeks of the campaigns, just wanted to point out a few progressive efforts at distributed net outreach:

The DSCC has a volunteer "badge" that you can add to your blog, myspace page, etc. as a tool to drive volunteers to Senate campaigns. it allows you to customize it for the races you most care about and want to point volunteers to...

The DNC has it's 50 State GOTV event finder...

MoveOn.org's "Call for Change" internet based volunteer phone banking is live...They are attempting to generate "5 million phone calls into 30 highly competitive congressional districts plus selected Senate races..."

And both Myspace and Facebook launched voter registration drives, that make it easier to reach out to your social network and get folks registered... Speaking of Facebook, they just launched "election pulse" where you can see various politician's facebook profiles organized by their district or state race and it how many "friends" each of the candidates has on the social network...

As I've just moved to DC, and have had to re-register the Chambers clan to vote, I'd personally vouch for GoVote.org run by Working Assets as a great online tool to register yourself and to point friends to. It made the process almost painless.... If anyone else has seen innovative uses of the net and new media please post in the comments here...


Another reason to understand the New Media

The purpose behind our New Politics Institute (featuring a new website!) gets tremendous validation from this article in this morning's Post. In it, John Harris points out that the Foley scandal, Senator Allen's "macaca" comment, and the interview between former President Clinton and Fox's Chris Wallace all had one thing in common: "each originally percolated in the world of new media." Touching on the dichotomous nature of the New Media, he adds that "a changed media culture that creates new perils for politicians also provides new forms of refuge."

(Hmm. Maybe I should link to our new NPI site again, since this article underscores the importance of realizing the influence new media has on politics.)


Google Chief on Internet Politics

Google Chief Eric Schimdt was speaking at the conference of the UK Conservative Party yesterday, and had some interesting warnings for politicians.

Many of the politicians don't actually understand the phenomenon of the Internet very well," Schmidt told the Financial Times. "It's partly because of their age ... often what they learn about the Internet they learn from their staffs and their children." The advent of television taught political leaders the art of the sound bite. The Internet will also force them to adapt. The Internet has largely filled a role of funding for politicians ... but it has not yet affected elections. It clearly will."


David Cameron's Online Guide for '08 Candidates

As NDN's resident Brit, i like to sneak in the odd blog post about my home country. But this one happens to be relevant. David Cameron is the new leader of Britain's conservative party. This week he, and his previously hopeless party, gather for their annual conference. They will be joined by John McCain, who is to speak during the week. There he will see the Cameron political phenomenon, even if it might not be beyond McCain to spot certain items ransacked from the repertoire of the current Prime Minister.

But it is Cameron's use of new media that interests me. Yesterday he launched WebCameron. Ignore the bad pun, and have a look. Its a video rich site featuring daily clips of him talking about what he is up to behind the scene, along with clips from friends, guests and advisors (including John McCain.) The first clip features Cameron washing the dishes, the second talking about his feelings having made a speech. All are aggressively informal, unfussy and personable. Its almost as if politics has suddenly gone all Hill St Blues, complete with shaky camera work and behind the scenes footage. In an era in which trust in politics and politicians has declined, Cameron's people have clearly decided that no production values are the best proxy for trust and honesty. And i for one think the site is exceptionally effective.

Now the only question is which Presidential candidate do the same thing. My hunch? All of them.

Warner 2001

Mark Warner has a background in technology. He was prominent at Daily Kos. He has top tier bloggers working for him. And a nice website. But this - from the Economist - is really taking the "embracing technology" approach to its limits.

Mark Warner, a former governor of Virginia who is considered a possible Democratic candidate for president in 2008, recently became the first politician to give an interview in [online imaginary world] Second Life. His avatar (also named Mark Warner) flew into a virtual town hall and sat down with Hamlet Au, a full-time reporter in Second Life. “This is my first virtual appearance,” Mr Warner joked, “I'm feeling a little disembodied.” They then proceeded to discuss Iraq and other issues as they would in real life, with 62 other avatars attending (some of them levitating), until Mr Warner disappeared in a cloud of pixels.


Video on the Web

As our own Pete Leyden would say, the web has gone 2.0.  The NYT has an excellent update about the state of the internet and the increasingly important role of video:

"...the world has gone batty over video. Thirty-second clips, three-minute spoofs, half-hour sitcoms, TV dramas that haven’t been shown in decades, rap videos, Hollywood blockbusters and feeds from TV news outlets big and small are flooding online. The term video itself is already starting to sound old — the equivalent of songs before the advent of MP3’s and downloads."

Progressives need to understand this technology, and how we can use it to get our message out.  If you've been wondering what Apple iTV, NBC Broadband, Google and Yahoo are up to in this space, this article is a good way to get up to speed. 

Is that you, Congressman?

Interesting. Very Interesting. Chris Cillizza's blog over at the Post tells of a new type of "telephone townhall" campaigning technique, otherwise known as a giant conference call, being used by Republicans in the Kentucky 2nd. I've never heard of this being used as a way to talk to voters. Seems like a smart way idea, especially in rural areas. The video clip says more about how it works. 

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