Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category


The Obama Generation

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Yesterday, Stephanie Agresta brought nine tech and business students from Iowa’s Luther College (blog) to meet me at our Foster City office for some Q&A about the business world they’re about to enter. This day, Jan 20th was the first day Obama has been in office, and he’s already made some significant changes within his first hours in the oval office.

We had an interesting conversation, we talked about creating career websites, starting blogs, and how to represent yourself in a professional way. We discussed how sharing online is likely permanent and you should assume your boss, your mother, and your future wife/husband will read whatever you say online. How they should start preparing for the job market, and some practical tips to use social networks to find jobs.

These juniors and seniors are about to enter the workforce, and they’ll have experienced this in a different way then any previous generation has. What’s so different? they’ll always have been in the workforce and known that:

  • Their President was always their Facebook friend.
  • Their President was always the top Twitter user as far as they can remember.
  • Their President has always addressed them on Saturday mornings on YouTube.
  • They’ll be connected to their friends to discuss topics and join causes in social networks.
  • The “Mall” won’t just be about shopping but also refer to the Washington Mall.
  • Blackberry’s are the new scepter of power, and a status symbol.
  • Soon, they’ll remember how they can voice their opinion on websites like the Whitehouse.gov isn’t just a destination site, but will become a place to have two-way conversations with peers and the administration.

    Not all of these things are always cheery for them, as they graduate the impact of the recession may cause them to compete against others that are far more experienced and may be able to outbid them. They may understand what ‘change’ and ‘hope’ means but may not remember what the country is trying to escape.

    Back to you, what are the other characteristics of this Obama Generation especially as it ties back to the internet?

    How Did You Participate In The Inauguration?

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    Are you old media or new? Progressive or traditional? Were you present in DC or were you participating using TV and being online?

    President Barack Obama’s inauguration was an interesting event, why? It wasn’t during normal evening showtimes when people would watch on TV, as a result, people found other ways to consume the event –even using iPhone apps. Secondly, although an American event, it has implications to the rest of the globe, it’s not just a limited audience.

    In my world, I watched it at 830am at home on HDTV, while streaming other pieces on Ustream.tv. I watched Current TV (got annoyed with the hip hop music and ridiculous tweets) and turned on CNN. I was on twitter (see charts), chatting and commenting about Aretha’s magic bow and how to be yellow mellow, and was reading the hundreds of tweets coming in every 30 seconds on Tweetscan, Summize (it couldn’t keep up) and Tweetdeck.

    Over on Seesmic, there were discussions from those who were watching –and it cascaded to many other social sites, at the end of the ceremony, I changed my Facebook stats to read “Jeremiah is mellow yellow” and received several replies in a matter of minutes –one from my kid sister, who says I’m old for using email.

    Tell me how you experienced the inauguration? Did you use mainstream media? Was it a social event for you? Did you create your own commentary and share with others?

    Obama Crowdsources Daily Ideas with Citizen’s Briefing Book

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    Change Force

    I just learned from Leverage’s Mike Walsh that Obama will receive a briefing from the top voted ideas that were submitted by the American people each evening see Change.Force.com (a play off . This method of keeping in direct communication by ‘listening’ to the citizens leans on voting style technology similar to Dell’s Ideastorm. My colleague Josh Bernoff will be pleased, as he requested this feature a few months ago.

    You’ll need to login and register (I suspect they can use IP addresses to determine point of origin within US) in order to confirm location but that’s not completely accurate. How can Obama extend this further? Make a similar site for all other nations to submit ideas for foreign policy. This doesn’t come without challenges of course, the system could be gamed, and there’s no promise he’ll make changes based on our feedback, we’ll see.

    I talk to the executives of the world’s largest brands, after Obama won the election, I get a lot less push back –it’s rare I have to have discussions now about the validity of social technologies. Of course, social technologies still come with risk, but for some reason this feels really good, we’re all a bit more connected and the internet helps to bring us together.

    Related Resources

  • You can see the top submitted ideas, the first one is “Ending Marijuana Prohibition” with 81080 Points, 2719 comments, and submitted on Jan 12th, which is the earliest submittal date I can find.
  • I just logged in and voted for ending of torture and request for bullet trains, each vote cast 10 points.
  • If you know who the vendor is who is doing this work (platform and development) please let me know, I checked source code but didn’t see anything real obvious (Updates: a few that I know have confirmed this is Sales Force, in the comments.)
  • How Municipalities Should Integrate Social Media Into Disaster Planning

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    This last Thanksgiving was marred by the horrible deaths of over 170 victims at Mumbai’s terrorist attack. If you weren’t watching, social media played a part in helping –and hurting– the event. First hand accounts were published on twitter, including pictures of terrorists in action, in fact Forbes called this Mumbai: Twitter’s Moment. Cities, authorities, states, and governments should have a social media plan in place to prepare for disasters of all sorts.


    [Social tools allow both true and false information to be rapidly communicated from sources in real time from anyone using a mobile device. During disasters this both enables and detracts emergency response.]

    Social Tools Pervasive
    Social Technographics research indicates that these social tools are readily available and are being adopted in US, as well as other cultures. Any person connected to the internet, or has a mobile device has the ability to share information as well as scan and learn from their network, take for example this lawyer who used his blackberry to transmit emails while under siege in Mumbai.

    Social Tools Spread Word of Mouth, both Good and Bad We’ve multiple accounts how individuals have used blogs, video, and now Twitter to rapidly spread information during a crises, from earthquakes in China, to Fires in L.A., to Hurricanes in the South, and now terrorist attacks in India. A hundred years ago, we would never imagine how information could spread so quickly. These tools are powerful, they allow anyone to share –and hear– information transmitted from others in real time from anywhere. We learned that both true and false information was being spread from these tools, in fact for days after this Mubai event rumors were still being settled. In fact, one of the concerns in this Mumai attack is that rumors were quickly spreading, and there was no central source to verify. In some cases, conversations in Twitter (and even the retweet) can influence press, and therefore spread information to other locations impacting how emergency services could react.

    These Tools Enhance Existing Human Behaviors Gossip, the need to connect, and communication are natural human reactions during a crises. Like a scene at a freeway car crash, most want to know what’s happening and in the excitement, jump in to monitor and participate. Jennifer Leggio indicates that the good and bad of humans quickly show on these tools –with mixed reactions. Amy Gahran provides us with why and how citizen journalists should react and behave.

    Assume Terrorists Are Using Social Tools We learned that the Mumbai terrorists were using Blackberry’s to communicate and monitor. This 10 man crack commando team was able to cause extensive havoc for 3 days. They were trained, funded, and had intelligence. Just as we should expect they are monitoring the police airways and public tv stations, we learned they were monitoring online the “police responses on the internet”. It’s so very easy to do, as people were tagging content #mumbai and it’s easily searchable by Twitter.


    [Local governments, authorities, and response teams should understand how these social tools work, learn how to integrate into disaster response, and evaluate how they will use them during an emergency]


    How Municipalities Should Integrate Social Media Into Disaster Planning Therefore, municipalities should learn from this tragic event, in order to understand, help reduce risk, and take advantage of the medium before an event happens.
    1 Enhance Communication Plans: First of all, just as municipalities have an existing communication plan (often a press statement from police or authorities to media) understand how to repurpose these messages and communication on social tools.

    2 Experiment and Build a Base: Municipalities should experiment with the tools as we learned the Department of Homeland Security is understanding how to use these tools for disasters, so cities should also start to monitor, then experiment. Just as we saw with Motrin moms, they had no base to stand on to defend themselves in Twitter –the same falls true for any ruling body. Having a platform in advance provides benefits, as those who participate have power.

    3 Educate, Train, and build Awareness Before an Event. Governing bodies often have mock emergency response trials, now, start to incorporate these tools into the planning process. You’ll have to indicate to the world what is an official channel, where people should go for news, and how each authority plans to respond using these tools. These tools can help educate citizens how to prepare for disasters, where to go for help, how to develop a family crises plan, and even basic life saving medical techniques.

    4 Develop a Crisis plan: It’s far to bold to suggest that each governing body use these tools during an emergency. Perhaps they are focused on keeping information quiet in order to save lives, are unaware of what the truth is, or simply don’t have the resources. Even so, municipalities should expect information to rapidly spread amongst those witnessing the tragedy, and commented by others. Likely, like a triage plan, a similar plan for social media should be created depending on the type of disaster occurring.

    5 Use These Tools To Rebuild: Even if the municipality chooses not to participate during the crises, these tools can help rebuild after the tragedy. The Red Cross has been using blogs, Facebook causes, twitter, and a variety of other tools to help spread awareness to drive donations, and to get people involved.

    If you have other suggestions to help municipalities with understand and use these tools to their benefit, leave a comment below.

    SnapShot: YouTube’s Top 5 Channels vs Obama, ranked 34

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    Obama has declared he’ll be using YouTube to provide weekly addresses to the nation and the world, I want to start taking snapshots of the analytics in order to understand the changes that are happening to our world. Each generation has it’s medium, and this one is the web –let’s see how our leadership grasps this.

    The following is the most subscribed channels of all time. I use this as a primary measure as if someone subscribes it means they’re asking for updates whenever new content is published, preference. The following is a snapshot of numbers of the most Subscribed (All Time) YouTube Channels.


    YouTube’s Top 5 Most Subscribed Channels of all Time:

    #1 Fred

    This skit act from a very hyperactive spaz who had too many moutain dew and twizzlers publishes ‘burst’ style videos featuring non stop high-pitched clips stringed along designed to keep the attention of pre-teens, teens, and the occasional web strategist. Fred is now the star of the New TV conference. Notice the few amount of videos Fred has produced and high viewership.
    Type: Comedian
    Videos: 35
    Joined: October 01, 2005
    Videos Watched: 16,203
    Subscribers: 647,697
    Channel Views: 19,314,418

    #2 Nigahiga

    This Hawaiian comedy group does satires, interviews and slapstick style stunts.
    Type: Comedian
    Videos: 57
    Joined: July 20, 2006
    Videos Watched: 11,693
    Subscribers: 632,891
    Channel Views: 17,116,311

    #3 Smosh

    Two college age guys produce skit comedy.
    Type: Comedian
    Videos: 60
    Joined: November 19, 2005
    Videos Watched: 20,161
    Subscribers: 597,161
    Channel Views: 21,898,415

    #4 Universal Music Group

    The only ‘mainstream’ media channel to make it to the list, this shows TV clips and shows as a secondary medium to the TV screen. They’ve published a whopping 8k videos, a scattershot strategy, far beyond any of the other top 5.
    Type: Director
    Videos: 8,905
    Joined: August 23, 2006
    Subscribers: 499,766
    Channel Views: 18,214,102

    #5 Jonas Brothers Music

    The only mainstream music group to make the top 5, the Jonas Brothers Music publish vids, behind the scenes videos and tour updates.
    Type: Musician
    Videos: 72
    Joined: May 11, 2007
    Videos Watched: 1,474
    Subscribers: 385,888
    Channel Views: 18,845,718


    The reason I’m posting these channel numbers is because I’m watching carefully the changes that will happen from Obama’s promise to be a YouTube president. He plans on publishing weekly videos from the white house to provide a human face as well as accepting feedback in a conversational way. Let’s stop and think about mediums used by past Presidents. Franklin D Roosevelt understood the power of the radio (during an economic crises), and was able to reach millions of Americans in ear shot, John F Kennedy harnessed TV, used makeup to keep his cool over his sweaty opponent and beat out and reached millions of American homes to beat out Nixon by 100,000 votes. Now, Obama is using the internet to reach millions around the globe, all at no additional cost of publishing than Fred. Here’s Obama’s stats on his official channel:

    #34 Barack Obama’s YouTube Channel

    Obama used social media tools for awareness, fundraising and word of mouth marketing. He has committed to doing weekly YouTube videos and publishing on Youtube and Change.gov to the nation and the world, here’s the first video.
    Type: Political
    Videos: 1,823
    Joined: September 05, 2006
    Subscribers: 137,570
    Channel Views: 19,705,785

    Change Dot Gov
    Also, this channel has just been created this past week, and is just getting started…

    Type: Political
    Videos: 4
    Joined: November 05, 2008
    Subscribers: 4,550
    Channel Views: 29,779

    Fred vs Obama
    Although Fred has almost the same number of Channel Views (both 19million) as the next president, Fred has 640k subscribers, 4.6 times more than Obama’s 137k subscribers. Of course, Fred’s preteen target audience is more likely to be regular YouTube users with registered accounts, they’ve all opted in for his videos.


    I’ll be tracking Obama’s YouTube stats as we move through the next four years, in the meantime, here’s the first of his weekly YouTube video.


    Saturday, November 15, 2008 06:00am EST, at the time of this embed, there are only 3,858 views.

    Inaccuracy in Reporting at ABC News

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    I was surprised to see this article by ABC News just a few heartbeats before the election, an un-named reporter riffs off my blog post cataloging Obama vs McCain social networking stats:

    “A social network researcher says you can expect Barack Obama to win the election. Analyzing the candidates social networking pages, Jermiah Owyang found Obama has more supporters than John McCain.

    According to Ownyang’s research, Obama almost 4 times the number of supporters on facebook.com & myspace.com.

    Ownyang cites two reasons for the difference. “[The] Obama campaign moved quicker to social networking and social media, McCain only recently launched his own social network with KickApps.”

    He also says Obama supporters are also much more likely to use social networking sites.”

    As much as I would love to be a political analyst, I cannot take credit for predicting the election results, so the first sentence isn’t quite accurate. There’s likely a correlation between social network activity, but it’s certainly not a causation of the win happening –nor can it be an accurate indicator of political outcomes as the sample size doesn’t take into account the average voter. Furthermore. it’s amazing my name was incorrectly spelled, not once –but twice.

    In the true spirit of the crowd, the commenters in the article actually self-correct, a trend we often see on blog posts. Perhaps a future social mechanism could be developed that let’s them edit (or suggest edits) to keep the article accurate and helpful.