Feb 19

Isaac Garcia, of Central Desktop, writes a nice profile of the Obama campaign, which I read at Tech President

Something is happening. We’ve seen glimpses of it in the past – we’ve heard whispers about it – we’ve seen glimmers of it before – but we’ve never actually seen it grow and coalesce like this – in real-time.

What I’m talking about is the Long Tail of Politics and how technology is driving its growth.

For those of you not familiar with Long Tail theory, in 2004, Wired Magazine’s Chris Anderson asserted that the internet enables companies to capture and monetize the attention of thousands and millions of users, instead of monetizing the attention of a few large users.

For example, Amazon is able to profitably sell a large variety of books (representing The Long Tail) versus just selling a few bestsellers (representing The Head). Thus, the “tail” is quantifiably larger than the “head.”

The Long Tail and its business merits have already been debated heavily on the web with some arguing that The Long Tail only applies to certain models and others arguing that The Long Tail is a Sisyphean Myth – that it is impossible to achieve or maintain profitability leveraging The Long Tail alone. In other words, they argue that The Long Tail is the gravy of one’s business while The Head is the meat and potatoes.

Only in retrospect are we able to judge the success or failure of Long Tail business models. Examples of Long Tail success include Amazon, Netflix, Google; while examples of failure include Tower Records and Blockbuster.

Which is why Barack Obama and The Long Tail of Politics is such an historic event. We are witnessing the birth and evolution of The Long Tail effect right before our eyes.

Read the whole thing.

Feb 04

Here’s the lede of a good article at Tech President…

Over the past few months, we’ve gotten tantalizing hints of the level of integration of online and offline organizing that the Obama campaign has achieved. For instance, of the $32 million that his campaign raised last month, $28 million came in online, and though the vast majority of donations were small, this also tells us that the Obama people must have pushed almost ALL of their fundraising online, even for the people who would normally send a large check.

May 22

Cory Doctorow of the wildly popular blog, BoingBoing, covers the challenges of online community communication.

He writes

Take my friend Teresa Nielsen Hayden, who moderates the sprawling, delightful message-boards on Making Light, a group-blog where the message boards run the gamut from the war in Iraq to Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan-fiction, and where they discussion is almost always civil.

Teresa is a troll-whisperer. For some reason, she can spot irredeemable trolls and separate them from the merely unsocialized. She can keep discussions calm and moving forward. She knows when deleting a troll’s message will discourage him, and when it will only spark a game of whack-a-mole.

Teresa calls it “having an ear for text” and she is full of maddeningly unquantifiable tips for spotting the right rod to twiddle to keep the reactor firing happily without sparking a meltdown.

If you want to fight trolling, don’t make up a bunch of a priori assumptions about what will or won’t discourage trolls. Instead, seek out the troll whisperer and study their techniques.

Troll whisperers aren’t necessarily very good at hacking tools, so there’s always an opportunity for geek synergy in helping them to automate their hand-crafted techniques, giving them a software force-multiplier for their good sense. For example, Teresa invented a technique called disemvowelling — removing the vowels from some or all of a fiery message-board post. The advantage of this is that it leaves the words intact, but requires that you read them very slowly — so slowly that it takes the sting out of them. And, as Teresa recently explained to me, disemvowelling part of a post lets the rest of the community know what kind of sentiment is and is not socially acceptable.

When Teresa started out disemvowelling, she removed the vowels from the offending messages by hand, a tedious and slow process. But shortly thereafter, Bryant Darrell wrote a Movable Type plugin to automate the process. This is a perfect example of human-geek synergy: hacking tools for civilian use based on the civilian’s observed needs.

But there aren’t enough Teresas to go around: how do we keep all the other message-boards troll-free? Again, the secret is in observing the troll whisperer in the field, looking for techniques that can be encapsulated in tutorials and code. There is a wealth of troll whisperer lore that isn’t pure intuition and good sense, techniques that can be turned into tools for the rest of us to use.

Read the whole thing

Apr 25

There’s a new professional networking site for “higher ed professionals working in Web, marketing, PR and admissions” launched by Karine Joly, of the always excellent College Web Editor blog.

This should help make professional collaboration in the higher ed Web-centric world a bit easier.

Higher Ed Experts
Mar 30

Whether you were offended or intrigued by the 1984 Obama/Hillary ad, I think you might be interested in hearing from the maker, Phil De Vellis, directly. At the very least, I think it pretty clearly removes any doubt of the ad being an orchestrated conspiracy.

Here are two different but equally interesting interviews (thanks to MyDD)…

From an interview with YouTube…

And from PoliticsTV

Mar 29

I’ve been a big fan of Kathy Sierra’s Creating Passionate Users blog for quite some time.

Like Zack Exley in the political world, she writes about exactly the kinds of things I’m interested in — using the power of technology to create new relationships between institutions and their supporters. To move beyond the top-down vs. bottom-up arguments to create a new kind of synthesis that works to the benefit of both.

Like her recent series, How to Build a User Community (Part One and Part Two), she offers fantastic ideas on how to do this.

So, it was very disturbing to learn of the truly weird attacks being waged against her.

And it is causing a very profound ripple effect on the many thought leaders of this whole movement — as it exposes the darkness of human nature which clearly exists in both the real and the virtual.

The BBC has more

Keep the faith, Kathy.

Mar 26

A little ironically stale in Web terms, here’s a video that gives us all a little perspective on the expotential growth of the Earth’s Information Age.

From educator, Carl Fisch on his blog, the Fischbowl

Feb 07

Zack Exley wrote an interesting post this week about Barack Obama’s so far dormant Web operation.

His comments should be taken to heart by decision makers in all organizations where Web outreach should be an integral part of their strategy…

Obama and his senior aides aren’t doing the deep thinking they need to do on their own about this medium. They, like most of their competitors, have delegated “the Internet thing” to staffers who are far outside of the inner circle (”senior staff” is not the inner circle), and have refused to take personal responsibility for understanding the potentials of the medium on their own. In Obama’s case, it’s inexcusable because the Internet is just dying to make him president.

The result is that he is making major campaign decisions without regard to potentials for base building on the Internet—most important among them: how to launch the campaign. I know that they would say, “We ARE taking it seriously!” I’ve heard this from campaigns a thousand times. And they think they mean it. But the “Internet strategy” is still something separate, and still not something for which the inner-circle takes full personal responsibility. They need to think about the Internet with the same intensity, curiosity and rigor that they apply to television, polling, speech writing/making and debate performance. This is the cycle when it is just complete idiocy to treat base-building through the Internet with one iota less seriousness than those other critical areas.

Read the whole thing.

Feb 05

In light of Doritos going so far in embracing the YouTube nation by paying for a fan-created commercial during last night’s Super Bowl, here’s a neat Web 2.0 video created by Michael Wesch of Kansas State University’s digital ethnography working group

(Thanks to Karine Joly and her excellent College Web Editor blog for highlighting the video…)

Jan 18

Just got this announcement…

Kintera Announces Comprehensive Replacement Program for Convio and GetActive Clients

Has the proposed merger of Convio and GetActive raised uncertainty at your nonprofit – creating concern about the integration of technology platforms, culture, and which platform survives?

If so, Kintera is excited to offer a migration, implementation and software replacement program specifically for existing Convio and GetActive clients. Kintera’s replacement program provides your organization with one comprehensive, integrated technology provider, instead of two niche product providers of nonprofit software.

Kintera is the only Software as a Service provider to offer nonprofits a comprehensive product suite with functionality, such as a content management system (CMS), advocacy, constituent relationship management (CRM), donor management, wealth screening, and online fund accounting – all integrated into one platform. Kintera is also SAS 70 and PCI compliant, providing state of the art data security throughout the transaction cycle.

“In this rapidly growing market, consolidation can be expected among technology providers. Nonprofits shouldn’t be forced onto a platform that wasn’t part of their initial analysis,” Richard N. LaBarbera, Kintera COO.

Don’t be forced into a solution that doesn’t fit your organization.

Wow, that’s pretty quick. Seems likely they had advance notice of the merger. Too bad that, both from my own limited experience — and much anecdotal evidence — Kintera’s marketing far exceeds their ability to deliver.

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