Monday, February 12, 2007

Obama & Hillary Battle For The Internet: A guide to candidates campaign internet usage.

The Intro

When I first started blogging I took a piece of advice which my father had given me. He told me that there are three things which you should never talk about "Politics, Religion and Football (soccer). Then suddenly Barack Obama officially threw his hat into the presidential race. As a result I have never tried so hard not to talk about politics and am therefore taking a little tech spin on the campaign.

Not being an American but living here I can sincerely tell you that the US is home to the most Internet savvy people in the world. Everybody here seems to easily utilise web applications, be a member of some online community and occasionally talk to their grandmother via video chat (all unheard of in Europe).

Therefore the natural order of things would say that it would be just a matter of time before politics entered the same arena (especially considering the ease of networking online.) Well this campaign seems to be the one.

The Online Video's

Last month Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and Bill Richardson (who?) all announced their ambition to enter the presidential race with online videos. The BBC had a very interesting article called The Envelope Please. The article was written by Sarah Price (for those of you who aren't Familiar Ms. Pricestyle is the co-producer/director of the documentaries American Movie (Sony Pictures Classics 1999), Caesar's Park (Sundance Channel 2001) and The Yes Men (United Artists/MGM 2004).) and it analysed the message behind the message. In other words a filmmaker took a look at the production behind the messages.

The winner was unsurprisingly Barack Obama. The trap which a lot of contenders are falling into is attempting to capture the younger vote through the use of cool camera movements (Hillary) when the bottom line is that content is king. (slightly off topic the worst which I have seen was in the last Portuguese presidency campaign where a candidate made a billboard which said "Do you like MP3?" (Mario for President for a 3rd term)

Back to the story at hand. All candidates launched online video's Hillary is taking her 'conversations' with the country with a blog videolog spin to it. The most impressive is Barack Obama which has launched a social network for all of his fans.

The Social Network

TechCrunch was reporting how it ran incredibly smoothly which prompted the question "who made it?" considering it didn't even go through beta. I had to check it out for myself and I can sincerely say that I am impressed. The interface is fairly simple and it is much more facebook then myspace, which in my opinion is a very good thing. (By the way if any of you join the network please contact me (Christian Johnsen) and let me know what you thought).

The Problem

As anyone who has ever had a website or owned a PC with an Internet connection will tell you their are several very dangerous problems which could occur in the online world. Namely (a term which politicians will be more familiar with) sabotage.

Obama which has been pursuing the online world most aggressively has already experienced the wrath of some very ignorant people. As TechCrunch reports in the "find a group" section somebody found a hole and as a consequence added "a hard coded racial and sexual orientation slur." Check TechCrunch for the full article.

For the record the problem has now been corrected.


The Internet will finally bring politics much closer to the people and might make democracy the closest to its Greek original in modern day society. Therefore if I could make one request and break an oath to myself, get involved and don't let democracy be something which is only practiced on election day, but everyday.

Please share your thoughts.

For the Barack Obama official site click here!
For the Hillary Clinton official site click here!

Thanks TechCrunch!
Thanks BBC!


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