Archive for April, 2010

The Key to Winning the 2012 Election

The problem with losing a political campaign is that everyone points to the winners as being smarter, that every single detail (latest technology) of their campaign was perfect, and those who executed the winning plan are geniuses.   On the other hand, pundits cast the losers as dumb, behind the times and totally worthless.  Nobody calls you up, if you lose.

Garrett M. Graff

Neither one is true.  There is no one magic formula for winning.  Running a political campaign is like setting up a medium sized business for a short time, hoping to make a profit (winning) and closing it after the election ends.  It’s the campaign that makes the fewest mistakes that wins.

Campaign tools/ electronic gadgets are available to all sides.  You only have to go down to the corner pub on Capitol Hill to find out what your opponent is doing. 

What wins – organization and implementing your plan?  At 5:45 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2008, at a grade school in Ladue, Mo, an affluent suburb of St. Louis which votes heavily Republican, three Obama workers were already there with yard signs in place handing out literature.  Republicans had one worker and no yard signs.  Although McCain ended up barely winning Missouri after a two-week recount, Obama won in heavily Republican areas of St. Louis County.

As Michael Silberman writes in “Welcome to the New Media campaign of 2012,” the Obama campaign was very good at mobilizing and communicating with their volunteers through text messaging as well as online messages to recruit and funnel volunteers. 

Social media served them well, but in the end it was the old fashioned person-to-person, standing at the polls, going door-to-door that grassroots “get-out-the-vote” that wins.  Those poll workers in Missouri were part of the campaign’s “Project Houdini,” described by Silberman.

So how will globalization and technology change the landscape of future campaigns?

Dick Morris talks about the “Electronic Precinct” where any individual can influence an election. In his new book, “2010-Take Back America,” Morris writes that each person should be their own campaign media guru, strategist and manager.  “Make a list of your constituents and go talk to each of them by e-mail, by Twitter, by YouTube, by Facebook and by phone.   Craft a strategy for each person on your list. Send a video about a candidate or one of his speeches. Be your own publisher and spread the word. To win in 2010, we need to have hundreds of thousands of electronic precincts across the U. S.”  Already the Democratic National Committee has released a campaign video of President Obama urging his supporters to vote for Democrats in November.

 What about the “gotcha” politics online?  Daniel Henninger of the Wall Street Journal writes about how, “the veil was ripped from the true cost of government” by the internet.  “Before the Internet in Washington, California, New York, New Jersey—who knew what the pols were spending? The Democrats (and their Republican pilot fish) could get away with this. Not now. Email lists, 24/7 newspapers, blogs, TV and talk radio—the spending beast is running naked.”

A new kind of political campaign

It’s pretty obvious that the new technologies, Facebook, YouTube, e-mail, Twitter, will play a big part in the 2012 election.  But in the end, it takes people showing up at the polls, just like the Obama campaign of 2008 proved.  The electronic tools communicated to the volunteers and voters to show up. When they got to the polls, it’s that gut feeling people have about a candidate that translates into a yes vote. The image of Obama, young, energetic and using the latest technology was a powerful image of change. As Garrett Graff wrote for a cover story in Infonomics.  “Even the candidate himself was a techie: Obama famously cherishes his BlackBerry, and on the campaign trail he regularly zoned out with his iPod

Michael Lind talks about “The Boring Age” in Time Magazine’s March 22, 2010 claiming the “times they aren’t a-changin’ and though we want to believe technological innovation is proceeding at a rate with no parallel in all of human history, the truth is we are living in a period of stagnation.”  He asks, “Is the combination of a phone, video screen and keyboard really as revolutionary as the original telephone, the original television set or the original typewriter was?”

In the end, will people be too busy running their lives to know what’s going on?  Or, will social media cure that?


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Vogue Versus The Blogs

It must be nice being Anna Wintour, long-time editor-in-chief of Vogue Magazine.  It must be nice at least until now.   Although social media/ internet have gained wide acceptance across the world, Vogue and Wintour are struggling on how to use social media and not be threatened by the new phenomenon of fashion blogger. The struggle could result in the glossy, slick magazine being just as “out” as last season’s clothes.

Anna Wintour

Wintour seemed not as dismissive recently on her opinion of bloggers when she said:  “We love as much coverage of fashion as possible. We don’t care at all where it comes from, and we embrace bloggers and video and social networking, and anyone that’s talking about fashion is a good thing. And we now have our own website that incorporates all of that. But I think what’s interesting to us with this new phenomenon that ‘everyone’s a fashion editor, everyone’s a fashion writer’ is that all of that actually helps Vogue, because we have access and the understanding of fashion that, forgive me, but maybe some bloggers and some of the newcomers to this world have a little bit less experience of, but as I said, the more the merrier. We embrace it.

Is “The Cluetrain Manifesto” lost on Wintour?  “Markets are conversations” – “people are sharing information at blinding speed,” and there’s a reshaping of power.    Her comment “we have the understanding of fashion,” implies that fashion bloggers do not.  It’s clear that she hasn’t read the tea leaves.  Anna Wintour believes that she and Vogue still rule.  Even one of her assistant editors admits “not being that wild about fashion bloggers such as teen fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson.”

On April 22, 2010, Wintour was inducted into the American Society of National Magazine Editors Hall of Fame – it’s called the Ellies and is the Oscars for magazines.  At the same ceremony, Wired Magazine was honored as well as Glamour Magazine for the best use of both print and digital media.   

At the gala, the Wall Street Journal asked Wintour about her plans for the Ipad. Her response was vague, something about “plans on the drawing board,” but she did say Vogue was in the process of redoing its Website, making part of it interactive, which would launch in August.  

 Maybe the subject (or villain) of “The Devil Wears Prada” can still get on board.  In the May 2010 issue of Vogue she features Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, in a glowing article.  As a prognosticator for fashion, who tells us what to wear 10 months ahead of time, Wintour ought to be looking to the future (technology) instead of the past (print).  Her future and that of Vogue’s might depend on it.

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From Metal Magnet to YouTube – Access to the Frontlines of War – Weekly#10


The “Metal Magnet” is one of the top artifacts at the Newseum in Washington D.C.   An armor-reinforced Chevrolet truck, it kept Time Magazine photographers/correspondents safe while covering the violent conflict of the 1990s in the former Yugoslavia.  Repeatedly struck by bullets the 7,000 pound vehicle was dubbed the “Metal Magnet.”   Christopher Morris, Time’s chief photographer in the region, and two others were pinned down for three hours in the truck and escaped without injury. 

Metal Magnet at the Newseum

Seeing this bullet-ridden truck is not as dramatic or shocking as compared to seeing and hearing the gunfire of the War in Iraq on YouTube.  For someone who has never been to war or had any connection with the military except to be grateful for their service to our Country, the sound of gunfire is unbelievably loud.  It’s the way YouTube allows us in the war zone.

Although YouTube and the other Web 2.0 tools give us these unique looks at the War, this idea of transparency and coverage of War began in March 2003, when reporters were embedded with U. S. troops at the start of the War in Iraq   The Pentagon allowed reporters to travel and report alongside the military.  Both the military and journalists have given the effort high marks.

Since 2003, the rapidly expanding digital revolution has enabled every person in the War zone to become a potential reporter – teller of the truth of what’s really going on there. Prior to 2004, the Web 2.0 communication sharing communities existed on a very limited level.  Most social-networking and video sites simply did not exist. 

Blogging and solo video journalism have allowed people like Kevin Sites to cover the war and file their stories.  Even if they are first-hand accounts in the War zone, they could be no more accurate or informative than the traditional news media coverage.   As the first news correspondent for and then a video journalist, Sites says his impact can be greater on the internet – a potential audience of 400 million every month, compared to his old job as correspondent on NBC Nightly News with 10 million viewers.

Whatever tools are used to communicate the cruel realities of War, the information is there for all to see and hear.  Reading the blog of “Baghdad Burning” gives us a view of one family in Iraq and the slow destruction of daily life in a War zone.

The Web 2.0 tools have been used very successfully by the U. S. Army in their recruiting efforts.  On the Website, where future soldiers can get first-hand accounts of Army life, Army recruitment is up because of real-life stories for parents and future soldiers such as, “What’s it like to be a soldier.”  The daily routine of a soldier is explained in “At work and during free time.”  The site also provides games and downloads.   Because of these games and efforts on line, recruits are more likely to join and remain in the Army.  Recruiting goals are up as well as Americans have a more favorable opinion of the Army.


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World’s Tardiest Thank You!

I recently received a hand-written thank-you note for a baby gift I had sent ten years ago. The baby’s father wrote that he had found the old note, dated April 26, 2000, while cleaning out his desk, saying it should have been mailed ten years ago.

He included in his hand-written note the congratulatory note I had sent the family, dated Feb. 14, 2000, saying “it would bring a tear to my eye.”  Indeed it did.  My note read: 

Dear Charles and Beth:

Last night, Darby Wade Grant scored the winning free throws for the 8th grade Girls Basketball Team at MICDS.  What a great game.  I tell you this because when Darby came along, Jim and I enjoyed every second –every stage–every moment.  Any career “high” can never match last night’s game or a thousand other priceless moments.   I am so happy for you both and wish you and the baby good health and much happiness.



Receiving these hand-written notes all these years later was so inspiring.  It was a blessing that everything had been hand-written on stationery and not e-mailed.  It would never have been retrieved when my friend cleaned out his desk.  As an e-mail, it would have been easily deleted and lost forever.  In the Wall Street Journal’s Juggle blog, the “Buy Stamps or Hit Send,” reminded me that as people juggle their busy, daily lives, it’s definitely easier and faster to “hit send.”

Oh, the memories that are lost.  The feel and smell of the Crane paper and the cursive writing cannot be duplicated by e-mail.  It’s unlikely anyone would carry around an e-mail like they do a letter and re-read it.  It’s important not to succumb to technology.  A hand-written note is always more gracious and a more heartfelt expression.

Earlier this year the Wall Street Journal Juggle blog on “Do you Still Send Handwritten Thank-You Notes?” said that Geoffrey Parker, an executive of Parker Pen Company and grandson of the company’s founder, does both.  He phones,   e-mails or uses a text message for an immediate thank you but always follows up with a hand-written message. 
“As these modern electronic devices become more common and overused, they become cheap.” he says.                                                               

If for some reason, you don’t  like your hand-writing, then you can go to salesquill. com and they will write out your notes or letters and send them for you in two days time.  After job interviews, a thank-you-note in writing is recommended.

Don’t let e-mail or social media serve as your way of saying thank you.  Don’t give in to the cold efficiency of technology. Keep the warmth and humanness alive through hand-written correspondence.

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Global Voices Online Unifies People around the World in Sympathy of Poland after Tragic Plane Crash – Weekly #9

Global Voices Online provided the world with a front row seat on the reactions to the April 10, 2010, horrific airplane crash killing the President, his wife and other top officials of Poland.  At the same time it helped unify the Country of Poland.

Perhaps this post on “Global Voices Online” sums it up best:  […] want to feel alone” or “I want to know how others are feeling.” The post “Poland: R.I.P. Black Saturday” from GlobalVoices solves these problems by gathering a wide range of feedback, emotional reactions, […]

Before Saturday’s tragedy, three posts on the GlobalVoices Web site included one about a sign, made by Polish prisoners, that had been stolen from Auschwitz (posted Dec. 22, 2009); a post dated  (March 15, 2010), describing an inspiring volunteer effort to “to put a smile on a child’s face” by sending sick children cards from around the world; and a final posting recognizing women in technology and transparency worldwide,(March 25, 2010).  

Although all were interesting and inspiring, the immediacy of social media was apparent with reactions from people around the world when the Polish nation lost its top officials and 95 others. Global Voices became a place to share your sorrow, express your sympathy and rally the patriotic spirit of the Poles. Photographs of people gathering to express their sympathy and Facebook gatherings were displayed on this Web site.

On RIP Blachttpk Saturday people questioned the condition of the plane, the demand to land the plane in bad weather, the tremendous loss of life, the irony that the group was going to Russia to attend a memorial tribute to those killed in the 1940 Katyn Forest massacre.

Another interesting report after the tragedy was that all news portals and social media Web sites and government Web sites in Poland changed their colors to gray, black and white

Even Google put a black ribbon on its Polish Web site with the words:

In memory of the President of the Republic of Poland, Lech Kaczyński, and all the victims

Video reactions to the tragedy are also posted such as this one on YouTube:

Global Voices Online with its citizen journalists following what is going on in the blogosphere around the world was expertly implemented by regional editor for Poland, Sylwia Presley

It’s a grand idea founded at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. 

In the coverage of these events, Global Voices showed its value.

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National Harbor – A Real Gem for Washington DC! Response Blog #1

Developer of National Harbor Milton Peterson with

National Harbor, the massive $2 billion development on the Potomac, is a real boom to tourism and the economy of Maryland, as well as the surrounding Washington D.C. area.  Located about a mile from the District of Columbia, this 300 acre development with shops, restaurants, hotels, offices, condominiums and convention center, has not always received high marks from local citizens.

Take Liz’s Rialto Blog from March 3, well researched and humorous, after a winter time visit, she calls National Harbor “contrived and creepy.”

National Harbor may be a little contrived as these developments often are but it can be fun for locals if you know where to go.  How can you find fault with a development that has received the Disney stamp of approval?

When it was announced last May that Walt Disney Co. had bought a 15 acre parcel at the development to build a 500 room resort, the Washington Post called it a “a shot in the arm to National Harbor”

“The addition of Disney as a partner to the National Harbor mix validates and fulfills the shared vision that we will be a world-class waterfront destination resort,” said Milton V. Peterson, chairman of Peterson Cos., who has staked hundreds of millions of dollars on the harbor venture.

Local television reports such as NBC4 applauded the announcement  

In January 2010, the Wyndham Vacation Resorts opened a time-share development at National Harbor and says it has already sold 77 percent of its ownership stakes.

Washington City Paper’s “2010 Best of DC” says the best reason to visit National Harbor is Bobby McKey’s dueling piano bars. 

Another must see is the18 story l.65-acre multi-level atrium with great views of the Potomac River.

One of the fun ways to enter National Harbor is to take the water taxi ride from the Alexandria waterfront.  You can enjoy dinner, or shopping or take in one of the concerts or festivals. 

What about all of the water activities offered on the recreation pier about six months out of the year including bass fishing, boating, canoeing, kayaks and hobie cats.

Seasonal water taxi rides provide transportation to the National Baseball games, Mt. Vernon and Georgetown. 

Art lovers are in for a treat. The Awakening, a sculpture by J. Seward Johnson resembling a giant man coming out of the ground, was moved in the summer of 2008 from its original location at Hains Point in Washington DC to the National Harbor .

The two-year-old National Harbor is a work in progress.  Just take the bus or water taxi to avoid the parking meters.

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Wikipedia versus Drudge Weekly #8

Georgetown University Professor Garrett Graff proclaimed last week that “Wikipedia is the best source of current information.” This was shocking news. As an avid fan of the Drudge Report, a Web Site which links to major news stories from the United States and international mainstream media, I decided to find out if this were true, to compare the credibility of Wikipedia to Drudge, particularly when it comes to breaking news?

To begin the comparison, I checked the coverage of the April 5, 2010, West Virginia mine explosion and was immediately surprised that Wikipedia had an extensive amount of information on this Massey Energy Disaster. Wikipedia provided information on the explosion, rescue, safety violations and allegations of corruption, reactions and references without bylines of reporters or legitimate news organizations.

Drudge, on the other hand, posted three articles from two newspapers and one online Web site.  One article by three reporters ran in the Charleston, West Virginia Gazette newspaper.  Drudge also linked to The Wall Street Journal which had a major feature, cand a Reuter’s wire service story was posted on

 Both Wikipedia and Drudge had an exhaustive amount of information on this disaster. As far as I could tell both had reliable information but Wikipedia had no journalist’s bylines on its writings. You had to take it at face value. Drudge information was bylined in every media source.

Dan Gillmor, a noted American technology writer, who teaches and writes about the future of journalism, believes in citizen journalists and democratization of the media.

Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, said at a media summit in the United Kingdom last month professional journalists face change due to citizen journalism but “Everyone tells jokes but we still have professional comedians.”
Wales says that” Wikipedia has an advantage over news organizations because it tells the whole story, updated, whereas news organizations tell of the latest developments. People want broader summaries and context to their news. His key quote on what newspapers do: ‘Selling stale bread while giving fresh bread away free.”

Thirty years ago when breaking news occurred we turned on the radio to find out the latest updates. Today, we immediately click on the internet and Drudge. For most people, Wikipedia still has some catching up to do.

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