For the next two weeks hardcore political junkies have their Superbowl. The Undecided and The Independent, too, have the option of tuning into the back-to-back party conventions, which, thanks to social media, might see vitality injected into these otherwise dessicated institutions, that have become more Informercial than Must-See-TV. Beginning today, August 25th, the Democrat National Convention commences in Denver. On September 1st, the Republican National Convention kicks off in Minneapolis. What tech efforts have been made by the media outlets that cover them, as well as the parties themselves? Will they transcend expectations or fall short?
"The Most Anticipated Text Message In History"
American Idol be damned! Obama's promised text message of his VP pick was termed just that by CNN's Rick Sanchez. Gatekeeping media seemed to be up in arms that We The People were to find out the name of his #2 first. HuffPo's 23/6 tracked the news cable net's John Roberts as he slowly crumbled, waiting throughout the lonely wee hours for his SMS. The New York Times' David Carr tried to grasp what the move was about - failing to consider that it less about mistrust of the media than a healthy respect for the Body Politic. TechPresident's Micah Sifry went back and deconstructed both the actual timing of the breaking news (ABC and then CNN got leaks a few hours before the texts went forth) giving the campaign a mixed grade for implementation but agreeing with the Wall Street Journal's take that the exercise was a shrewd way to harvest 3 million cell phone numbers.
Your Tax Dollars At Work
The DNCC has ambitious plans for both its stagecraft and its Webcasting capabilities. The schedule itself has some surprises. This year's keynote is Virginia's former Governor Mark Warner. During 2006 the Nextel founder endeared himself to Second Lifers by appearing in-world for a one-hour interview in the virtual world. But what's in the media's bag of tricks? Head and shoulders above is C-Span which will be doing gavel to gavel coverage (7am to 11pm daily). It's just launched its convention hub and color me impressed. It is set to employ a raft of Web 2.0 accoutrements. It will feature video streams from Qik, a sweet application that enables you to stream video shot on your cell to the Web; you can Follow the DNCC via Twitter at #dnc08. C-Span will be uploading video to its YouTube channel, but more noteworthy is that the channel has become blogger-friendly: there's a form to request clips of speeches and all clips are embeddable! One small step... While it's still in beta, kudos to Perspctv.com which might well offer one-stop-shopping for everything political but streaming video: CNN's Poll of Polls, graphs of McCain vs. Obama with respect to MSM news mentions, in the blogosphere, and on Twitter. It pulls in Hubdub, a prediction market for electoral votes, Alexa ratings for campaign Websites, as well as live updates of Tweets, Blog mentions, and news stories. Phew!
From Macaca to Baracky 2 And Beyond
Last week marked the Second Anniversary for another Virginian, former Senator George Allen. After the Webb campaign couldn't find national media to air coverage of Allen's epithet against a staffer, the clips went up on YouTube, and with it, Allen's career (and '08 political aspirations) when down in flames. PoliticalTV.com gives this moment it's #1 slot of The Greatest Political Web Videos of All Time.
For sheer creativity, this election cycle's Jib Jab is Baracky2 - a no-holds-barred take on Hillary, Bill, McCain, and Barack. But most inspirational is Dave Stewart's (late of Eurythmics) American Prayer, co-written with Bono. As Obama accepts the nomination this Thursday, 45 years to the day of Martin Luther King's I Have A Dream Speech, whether you mark yourself elephant or donkey, you'd have to be stone not to be moved by the song's refrain: "When you get to the top of the mountain, remember me." Oh yeah: Want a ringtone? Text "Change Now."
Viral Videos Chart has Prayer in its Top Ten, with a bullet. It's had 340,000 views since Friday, when Stewart debuted it on Huffington Post. And, they maintain, it has yet to peak. While as star-studded as the will.i.am video, [Joan Baez to Herbie Hancock, Forest Whitaker to Macy Gray, Whoopi Goldberg to... Pam Anderson?!] its lyrics actually carry the day: