IPDI “Politics Online” Lessons

Spent Tuesday and Wednesday at the IPDI conference catching up with various friends and vendors. Excellent panel on mobile solutions (see Mozes and POLItxt) and a discussion on VoIP and softPBXes (think Apache for the phone services) and how it will revolutionize the political industry. A sunning summary of what I learned:

“The Changing Media Landscape” – with Chris Nolan, David Weinberger, Dan Gilmore and Alex Jones.

Personal technology are forcing a conversation to occur whether through blogs with individuals discussing amoungst themselves or social network spaces forming (e.g. myspace, facebook) that are becoming the new “town halls” or “third spaces” in this medium. And even though 100 years ago, the explosion of publishing that occurred with the advent of an inexpensive printing press eventually lead to a consolidation of media channels as seen today – this explosion will have to be handled in a much different issues because of ease of publishing, ease of distribution and ease of access. (paraphrasing Dan here). Services like Digg and other collaborative news sites (like NewsVine) will begin to create and dominate the community awareness of news content in a collaborative sense, instead of relying on large media brands to select the appropraite content to a wide audience.

One question I still have – will access to capital for marketing or government agreement with carrier restrictions (e.g. net neutrality) be the friction that causes tthe slow-down and consolidation. As with every ecosystem, there tends to be an explosion of growth and then a winnowing down of the growth to the strong few. A recent article spoke on this – tho I do not remember where it was. (Special note: Chris Nolan – exceptional moderator with her focus on the audience level of understanding).

One more thought: as these sites begin to proliferate – I would wonder why Digg or NewsVines do not create versions of their services (like syndication/white labels) for different communities. One lesson from eGroups that I thought was particularly well-suited to eGroups was the creating of ccgroups.com – essentially a Christian Community eGroups that solely supported the Christian Community mailing lists (Disclosure: I was the Director of Marketing for eGroups and built this deal). Interestingly, during the time I tracked it – ccgroups was either the third or fourth most prolific “grouping” on eGroups at the time before acquisition with Yahoo! (below the main site, eGroups Japan and adult content).

“Over the Horizon” – with Valdes Krebs, Micah Sifry, Eli Parser, and Danny Glover

Interesting chat – focused on email campaigns (can we say MoveOn), group managemen software (can we cay eGroups) and “social networks” (can we say InFlow) – but it seemed that the horizon was still quite muddled – innovation is there, but the implementation of these techniques still require campaigns to make the next step.

“Politics to Go” – Jed Alpert, Aaron Clark, Julie Barko Germany, and Dan Weaver

Interesting discussion of mobile communications and using mobile technology to get out the message and/or build relationships. The ubiquiousness fo the mobile platform (“third screen”) is already so prevalent that the ease of connecting though various services like POLItxt or Mozes (in beta – but coming soon) is going to be another tool in the campaign toolset. The challenge I forsee is one similar to email campaigns. To date, campaigns are often found to acquire email lists, direct mail list from older campaigns – and people often find themselves on candidate mailing lists they do not want to be on. Now consider the upcoming effort of mobile marketing. While it is promised to not to give away mobile details to other parties – was that not the same promise for email and direct mail? I should als state that the speakers addressed this by saying that the mobile carriers are able to stop mobile spam and could negatively impact (read: cut off) service providers who work with groups that connect with pilfered lists, I would love to see legal rememdies that scare anyone from doing so in the US – and then, I would be happy to give my mobile number to a compaign.

“Making the Next Generation Telephone Calls” – with Justin Oberman, myself, Julia Cohen, and Chris Spence

Interestingly, I filled in at the last minute – and discussed that the goal of this talk was to discuss about how VoIP and another concept (softPBXes) could fundamentally change the political marketspace. In the sense, with softPBXes (like Aserisk) becoming more technologically doable, campaigns can now see the benefit of using more inexpensive phone services across their data network. Concepts like WildFire (personal answering assistant), unified presence (one campaign number automatically routes the call to any person available) to centralized phone banking with distributed staffers with the control at the center (think of home-based customer service with a control scheme at the campaign office). VoIP was identified as a godsend for reducing costs – especially in International non-profits – and for campaigns, we discussed many of the products that are potentially possible for the future of campaigning from your mobile phone. Examples like Speakeasy, created by the founder of txtMob and liveOps (a home based customer service offering) were also discussed.

Annd, as always, the Golden Dots were awared – and, again, I am confused as to who and why they nominees were chosen and the winners selected. I think for the future there should be greater entries (like from Blue State Digital, echoDitto, Mayfield Strategies, etcera) which really are demonstrating the future of campaigning.


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