As better writers than I have already turned out excellent work on the tech policy discussion sponsored by Politico’s @morningtech writers and Qualcomm, I wanted to draw some attention to what Politico, as a news organization has been doing over the last several months as compared to DC’s other news outlets. (By news outlets, I mean published in print and online.) While newspapers have come a long way since our 2008 report on the Use of the Internet by America’s Newspapers, Politico stands out in several important regards.
In the last three weeks Politico has organized two events with great speakers that attracted a significant amount of earned media. The October 25th “Political Campaigns and Social Media” panel discussion hosted at GWU was covered live by CSPAN and attended by a capacity crowd. Likewise today’s “#NextinTech” event was attended by a capacity crowd and featured discussions with US CTO Aneesh Chopra, U.S. Senators @MarkWarner and @JohnEnsign, Representatives @AnnaEshoo, ITIF’s Rob Atkinson, Google’s Pablo Chavez and Dell’s Frank Muehleman. So far it has generated at least 715 tweets by 301 influential people and several dozen high impact blog postings. (Not to mention an unknown amount of potential new subscribers for Politico Pro.)
2. Making their reporters available off-line
Outside of online QA sessions and their own book signings, few reporters from other news organizations make public appearances. (Local TV station and online newspaper TBD, which is also a subsidiary of Allbritton Communications being a notable exception.) I intend to do additional research to document this, but from a brief survey of colleagues in the know, similar efforts by other outlets are hard to find. For instance, the Washington Post’s website lists nothing in the way of future or past events. There are just certain things you will hear from reporters in person that you won’t online, such as that Politico’s Ben Smith is often frustrated by the trolling and off-topic comments on his blog. Things like this are objectively true, yet not something really worth him writing or complaining about.
Since first learning of Facebook’s Project Titan, otherwise rumored to be a “Gmail Killer” last Thursday, I launched a custom instance of Slurp14 0 to track the buzz. With the official announcement of Facebook’s Project Titan, to begin at 1:00pm EST, the ‘before’ results are presented for your enjoyment: http://www.slurp140.com/titan
With 30 minutes until launch: 8,089 total tweets by 7,533 people that referenced either the URL of the 11/11 TechCrunch article or one of the following search terms: [Project Titan” OR #projecttitan OR Gmail Killer, Facebook AND email]
A couple early points:
Although a few spammers have infiltrated the leaderboard, nobody has really sent more than 1-5 tweets about it pre-launch. Content wise, most tweets are either informative or quick reaction having to do with the competitive environment and whether or not people will actually use this new feature.
Of course, it will be interesting to see if the close ratio between the total number of tweets and the number of people tweeting h o lds.
From viewing the stream on and off, it appears that Facebook has definitely sparked some interest, but the jury is most definitely still out.
For a comprehensive look and analysis of the results check out our Impact Watch blog later this afternoon.
(Image is of the ‘Titan”’ 3-D home movie projector)
While most of the news surrounding Foursquare’s announcement on Mashable that users will now get a custom badge for voting on election day, so far not much has been written about the most interesting, and potentially explosive aspect- the Foursquare election data visualization site.
Although Gowalla was first to announce an election badge and actively seek to partner with individual campaigns, Foursquare along with partner organizations have taken it to the next level with their integration of OpenStreetMap and official polling locations provided by the Voting Information Project.
Traditionally campaigns have monitored turnout on election day by recording the cumulative total of votes cast per polling place on an hourly basis. This data is then put into a spreadsheet / giant whiteboard and if turnout is lower than expected, you redirect all of your phone banks and canvassers to ‘flush’ your voters out of their homes and to the polls.
In 2008 the Obama campaign realized that rather than wait an hour, they could get real time results that would not only tell them how many people voted, but also who voted. Thanks to smart phones, a simple web application and local election laws allowing campaign volunteers to be inside polling places, the Obama campaign now had real time results of how well they were doing. (Disclosure: I volunteered for the Obama campaign as a legal poll monitor and observed this first hand. I do not know if McCain campaign had a similar program.)
If voters do embrace Foursquare to check into polling places for the 2010 midterms, not only could this boost turnout for key demographics and identify issues at polling places, it could also make exit polling obsolete.
With this new data on hand, a savvy campaign or organization could create another app to search for the #ivoted hashtag and report back a list of users who checked into certain precincts. Next, an algorithm performs a quick sentiment analysis of past tweets to determine political affiliation, and BINGO- up to the minute election results. While no automated sentiment analysis is perfect, I would imagine that counting & comparing the number of politicians someone follows would get you close. Cross checking with the candidates followers would get you closer still. Count the # of @BarackObama vs. @SarahPalinUSA re-tweets and you’re there.
So What Should Campaigns Do?
Besides email address and cell phone numbers- Ask for Twitter handles. Encourage your supporters to sign up for Twitter and Foursquare to support your candidate and let you know when they have voted. If you have a Foursquare account for your candidate, you would also have the benefit of a customized stream of your supporters checking in and voting.
What Will Campaigns Do?
As my former colleague Philip de Vellis of Murphy Putnam pointed out at the Politico / Facebook panel on politics and social media Monday evening, in times of uncertainty campaigns tend to fall back on what they know- namely TV ads. Others mentioned that campaigns have shifted to spending less than 5% of their budgets online. Given that devoting resources to something new and unproven is a little bit scary, I predict that widespead adoption of social media advertising (and spending that follows) will not be broadly adopted until 2012.
For some background on how this all came about, check out the 9/28 RWW blog posting “Could Location Base Services Increase Civic Engagement in Millennials.”