Political Technology

The Quality of so-called Bottom-Up Video

If you have not done it yet, you should just go to youtube.com and check out various videos in order to get a sense of what this bottom-up video phenomenon is all about. A random visit runs the risk of you only coming across silly things that are poorly done – and that lead you to believe that the whole development is useless. Don’t fall into that trap. There are all kinds of gems sprinkled in there, and they point towards more amazing productions to come.

I came across this random video from two young guys who probably are worth keeping an eye on. It shows how the simple tools of digital cameras and inexpensive editing software can come up with very funny and well-done pieces. These guys might be on their way to making a living doing this, or maybe it will remain simply a creative outlet. Either way, it proves the point. This new video distribution system is going to open up the playing field for many new talents, either professional or amateur. And those new players are bound to impact politics.

Peter Leyden

Political "Web Widget" from Sunlight Labs

I really like the idea behind the "Sunlight Labs" effort:

"Sunlight Labs is a Sunlight Foundation pilot project to prototype tech ideas to improve government transparency and political influence disclosure. We also provide technical support to Sunlight Foundation sponsored projects.

Lab projects are experiments. Play with them, even add them to your website if you feel brave. We like to collaborate with others to pool resources and facilitate sharing of data and technologies. A current major focus is working with the such partners developing APIs — Application Program Interfaces — which allows one program to talk to another and share data."

I specifically like their first project a web app, politician popup web service...

"Imagine pressing one button and finding everything you need and want to know about a member of Congress, or a corporation, labor union or individual trying to influence her. Web 2.0 technologies - Web services, API's, XML, AJAX, RSS - now make that possible."

It allows any blogger or website to include a little more than one line of code to their sites and then they get an "AJAX-based widget that adds mini-profiles with links of Members of Congress to your page that appear when you mouseover [a hyperlink of their name]."

In some ways you have to see it in action to really get it. But it is a cool distriubted web service -- and the first overtly political webservice I've come accross -- and is available for anyone to use.

The Sunlight labs project page goes on in more depth on the future of this project:

"Sunlight Labs is readying various flavors of the widget for increased scalability. The basic widget can be added to a web site or blog by simply adding the Javascript and style sheet to the page's headers and then manually adding a properly formed linked to each members of congress name where a popup is desired....Other flavors include local server-side PHP code to automatically search and replace members of congress's names with the necessary links. Sunlight has built a Drupal plugin that does this for our own site, www. sunlightfoundation.com, and also built a WordPress 2.0 plugin as well. Plugins for the major blogging and CMS platforms are planned and SunlightLabs is eager to find open source developers to help accomplish this and extend the the plugin."

World Cup Performance in Web and Mobile Space

Earlier posts on this blog listed the impressive reach of the World Cup in traditional media, and they had equally impressive stats in both the Internet and mobile media space. Yahoo! and Fifacup2006.com just released their stats for this year.

Here are some of the key ones:

* 4.2 Billion Page Views

FWC.com attracted more than two billion page views in the tournament's first two weeks, topping the site's total for the entire 2002 tournament less than halfway through the competition. By the end of the final match, FWC.com's 2006 site had more than doubled the page view total from 2002.

* More than 138 Million Video Streams

2006 marks the first year that video highlights of World Cup matches have been free on the Web, and fans have taken full advantage.

* 3.5 Million Flickr Photo Pages Viewed

Via its popular photo-sharing site, Yahoo! enabled fans attending World Cup matches to tag pictures and share their experiences with friends, family members and other soccer fans from around the world.

* 73 million Page Views on FIFAworldcup.com's Mobile Web Destination

FIFAworldcup.com went mobile for the first time in 2006. Millions of fans around the world accessed FIFAworldcup.com on mobile devices to follow all the World Cup action.

Tracking the Conservatives' Mastery of Niche Marketing

The New Politics Institute is mostly focused on what progressives can do to take advantage of the current wave of new media and new tools and connect with emerging constituencies. However, when it was founded a little over the year ago, we said we wanted to keep closely watching the conservative strategy too.

A new book is just coming out that should be useful in that regard: One Party Country : The Republican Plan for Dominance in the 21st Century, by Tom Hamburger and Peter Wallsten. These LA Times reporters look closely at the niche target marketing strategy that the Republicans executed in the 2004 election and their plans to keep tipping the country to their camp. The book is not out yet and I haven’t read it, but I used to work with Tom Hamburger and expect it will be excellent. George Will essentially reviews the book in his column in this week’s Newsweek and you can get a sense of the plan on the other side.

Peter Leyden

"Group to register young Latinos to vote through text messages"

I guess this entry could also have been in the Hispanic / Latino category as well... In prepping for the upcoming NPI event I found this news story from the Gannet News Service... Here are excerpts:

Group to register young Latinos to vote through text messages

WASHINGTON - Text messaging worked so well in rallying young Hispanics
to immigration protests this spring that political activists want to
apply the technology elsewhere: registering those young people to

The message is a simple one, said Maria Teresa Petersen, executive
director of Voto Latino, which plans to register at least 35,000 young
Hispanics nationwide through the text message initiative.

"You've marched," she said. "Now you've got to register and now you've
got to vote."

Voto Latino, founded by actress Rosario Dawson, is among a number of
political organizations targeting young Hispanics for voter outreach
efforts. The group plans to launch their initiative early next month...

"It's not just a question of who you can register now, it's who are
you influencing for the 2008 elections as well," said Antonio
Tijerino, president of the Hispanic Heritage Foundation...

Through text messaging, musicians at a concert, for example, can ask
their fans to text Voto Latino to register to vote. Those fans would
receive an immediate response from Voto Latino with instructions on
how to get a voter registration form.

They also could forward that message to their friends.

The use of the technology is even more prevalent among youth and
Hispanic cell phone users. About 65 percent of Americans between the
ages of 18-29 use text messaging; 54 percent of Hispanics use the
technology. By comparison, only about 35 percent of the general
population does, according to a recent study by the Pew Internet &
American Life project.

But despite the popularity of text messaging, political campaigns and
voter outreach groups have yet to tap the potential of the technology,
said Julie Germany of the Institute for Politics, Democracy and the
Internet at George Washington University...

Viral and Social Video Online: "A Campaign Game-changer..."

From today's Post, an article on viral and social video and the role they will play in upcoming political campaigns. Excerpts below:

While bloggers played a role in the last presidential election, most advertising and message delivery still comes from campaigns, political parties and interest groups with enough money to bankroll a television blitz. But the YouTube revolution -- which includes dozens of sites such as Google Video, Revver.com and Metacafe.com -- could turn that on its head.

If any teenager can put up a video for or against a candidate, and persuade other people to watch that video, the center of gravity could shift to masses of people with camcorders and passable computer skills. And if people increasingly distrust the mainstream media, they might be more receptive to messages created by ordinary folks.

"YouTube is a campaign game-changer, shifting the dynamics of how to reach voters and build intimate relationships," says Julie Supan, senior marketing director for the small, California-based firm, which by one measure now runs the 39th most popular Web site. "YouTube levels the playing field, allowing well-backed and less-known candidates to reach the same audience and share the same stage."

Even the seemingly simple act of posting footage of a politician's interview on "Meet the Press" or "The Daily Show" has a viral quality, because it can be seen by far more people than watched during a single broadcast...

While the site's amateur contributions range from nasty to uplifting to downright silly, they also restore a measure of fun to politics -- precisely what might appeal to younger people turned off by traditional speeches, ads and rhetoric. Supan says the modest viewing levels for politicians' pages reflect the pedestrian content of standard speeches and ads -- and will likely remain that way until they come up with behind-the-scenes footage or other eye-catching fare.

"At the end of the day," she says, "it's all about entertaining."

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