Posts Tagged ‘Obama’

Mobile Technology will Be Key In The Next Race To The White House

Barely six months into the new presidency and political strategists are already planning ahead for the 2012 elections. The 2008 elections saw technology and the Internet catapult a fairly unknown senator into the limelight  — and into the Oval Office.

“The game-changer in the Obama campaign…was that technology was not an add-on: It represented a carefully considered element of almost every critical campaign function,” says EchoDitto’s Michael Silberman.

According to an article on politicsmagazine.com, new technologies by 2012 will only serve to level the playing field, regardless of the candidate’s resources.

“The availability of low-cost video devices, video websites with social networking features and even mobile devices with one-button upload capabilities will allow voters more engagement. Campaigns will have the capacity to act or react, respond, pinpoint and address the questions that specific voters care most about.”

While sophisticated technology and innovative social media tools will be pivotal to the next elections, advanced mobile technology will probably have the most significant impact on the race to the White House.

The tech-savvy Obama team used mobile technology extensively during the 2008 elections — from iPhone applications to geo-targeted text messages — to connect with voters. However, technological advancements in mobile technology will completely revolutionize political campaigning in the future. Smart phones will get cheaper and more sophisticated. Like Moore’s law suggests: Computation gets twice as fast and half as cheap every two years. Mobile networks and platforms, too, will be more robust and cost-effective.

phoneMobile giving —  donations through cellphones, now restricted mainly to charitable organizations — may become an integral fundraising tool  for the next elections. Mobile phone owners may even be able to use their handsets to cast votes within the next few years.  Recruiting volunteers, organizing rallies and monitoring elections through mobile services will not be uncommon, too.

Digital content, social networks in particular, will increasingly be accessed — and distributed — through mobile devices. eMarketer forecasts that over 800 million people worldwide will be participating in a social network via their mobile phones by 2012, up from 82 million in 2007 — allowing users to actively engage with digital content.

Accessibility, speed and cost-effective mobile technology will equip the common man with tools to influence opinion — and drive change in the 2012 presidential race.

As Jonathan Spalter, Chairman of Mobile Future, puts it:

“Anyone involved in political organizing should look at the growth of mobile communication as the next Holy Grail of American and grassroots advocacy.”

Amen.

Calling The Oval Office

A direct line to the Oval Office? Apparently, it’s possible.

Keeping his promise of running an open and more responsive White House, President Obama on Tuesday invited the public to use a new feature on WhiteHouse.gov called ‘Open for Questions’ to ask him economy-related questions and vote on other submitted questions.

“We’re going to take advantage of the Internet to to bring all of you to the White House to talk about the economy,” says President Obama in a video, now available on You Tube. On March 26, in a special “community-moderated online town hall,” the president will answer “some of the most popular questions.” The event will also be streamed live on on WhiteHouse.gov.

It will be interesting to watch the President and his new media team attempt to follow through on their promises of a more wired White House.

Jose Antonio Vargas of the Washington Post says: “Expect a herd of organized (and unorganized) Web users to stampede WhiteHouse.gov and make it a highly trafficked political hub over the next 48 hours.”

At the time of writing this post, 8,664 people had submitted 9,387 questions and cast 322,284 votes. The most popular question so far?

“As a student, who like so many others works full time and attends school full time, only to break even at the end of the month. What is the government doing to make higher education more affordable for lower and middle class families?
— James, Bloomington, Indiana

According to Techcrunch, the White House will use Google Moderator to determine which questions President Obama should answer on Thursday.

While the “experiment” is definitely a welcome move towards transparency and accountability, it does raise concerns about how questions will finally be selected and the possibility that this kind of voting system may allow the weakest questions to  rise to the top.

There’s no doubt, however, if used effectively, this is a great way to engage the online community.  This is an opportunity for us to ask some tough and relevant questions.

Let’s hope we get more than just old boilerplate in return.

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