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Posts tagged ‘technology’

The Key to Winning the 2012 Election Online

The mixture of politics and technology proved to be very successful for the 2008 race to the white house. This video, posted last summer in the heat of the campaign, explains how big this had really become:

The first time technology really worked in favor of a presidential candidate was for John F. Kennedy during the 1960 elections, with television as the up and coming medium. And to think… that was just under 50 years ago! We’ve come a long way, and we all know that technology continues to become more efficient at exponential rates. It is hard to imagine that Facebook was a small social application limited to college students during the 2004 elections.

The key to winning the 2012 elections can be summed up by learning from Obama’s campaign strategy in 2008. In Edelman’s “Social Pulpit” report, these are described as follows:

  1. Laddering support through tiers of engagement (personal, social, anelections20-20flag20and20balloonsd advocate)
  2. Empowering super users
  3. Providing source material for user-generated content
  4. Going where the people are
  5. Using tools people are familiar with
  6. Ensuring that people can find your content
  7. Mobilizing supporters through mobile devices
  8. Harnessing analytics to constantly improve engagement activities
  9. Building the online operation to scale
  10. Choosing the right team

Obama’s campaign is pure genius for getting this right the first time (my professor described this very well in his Infonomics column). These lessons will be the basis of the 2012 elections and the trick to winning – adapt to new technologies and apply them in intelligent ways. The major difference in 2012 will be with #5 (with the emergence of new and improved tools) and #10 (choosing the right team members who will collaboratively make the right decisions). Striking the perfect balance between technology and face-to-face communications will also be a key factor to winning the future race to the white house.

To give you an idea of where we’re headed, think about this: Moore’s Law states that computers will become twice as fast and half as cheap every 2 years. This means that by the next election, technology will allow us to accomplish things that I can’t begin to fathom or describe. I am anxious to see how this all unfolds!

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Wikipedia’s Credibility

wikipedia-logo

Until recently, I was like one of the many who used Wikipedia as just another resource for information. After watching the ted.com video of Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, my already-existing trust in Wikipedia increased tenfold.

It is easy for skeptics and uneducated persons to try and bring down this ever-growing phenomenon. But the one statistic that really jumped out at me was the fact that, according to Wales, only 18% of Wikipedia contributors are anonymous. This number is shocking when you take into the account that the site is open for anyone and everyone to edit. Of course, it is inevitable that fraudulent posts will be made (like the very recent Obama page vandalism). But, as Wales points out, these scammers are outnumbered. The very loyal 600-1000 members of the close-knit contributor community have proven to be quick in eliminating erroneous posts (through reverting to a previous version or “voting for deletion”). This fact in itself should hush the skeptics. For the time being, this is Wikipedia’s best bet in keeping the site accurate.

If Wikipedia was only limited to the experts, it would be just another encyclopedia. In fact, it would lose some of its credibility. That’s not to say that Brittanica and the others should be considered erroneous (although the difference in web traffic is tremendous, according to this Wikinomics blog entry). But the beauty of Wikipedia lays in its open source software…making it a living phenomenon. The controversies that arise actually make the site unique; the scrubbing of false information keeps the site accurate. Additionally, Wikipedia’s core principles of neutrality and good faith solidify its credibility and ensures ongoing quality.

With time, this freedom of information will redefine the future of knowledge and education as we know it.

Fear Google?

Some Question Google's "Don't Be Evil" Motto

Some Question Google's "Don't Be Evil" Motto

I remember when I first heard the term “Google,” I was in my early college years (about 2001) and, at the time, Yahoo was my primary source of internet search. In fact, I clearly remember when more of my friends began using Google’s search engine; for some odd reason, I didn’t think much of it and avoided using it at all costs. Looking back, I think I was just feeling intimidated because I was so accustomed to my own way of searching and was afraid of changing that. It wasn’t too long until I switched over.

Today, Google is the internet’s top search engine with approximately 830,000 searches per minute. As of January 2009, Google search accounts for nearly 72% of searches on the web – a 9% change in just one year! In my view, Google represents technological innovation at scales that I am just beginning to understand. John Battelle, author of The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture, thoroughly explains Google’s profound impact on human culture. He discusses the company’s past, present, and future in great detail and lays out their continuous success. He also explores the implications of Google’s tremendous power.

Naturally, any powerful entity has the potential of creating some cultural resistance and, in some cases, fear. Despite their motto “Don’t Be Evil,” people still seem to think so. Ivica Miscovic even gives a top 10 list on why we should fear Google. Battelle explains (p. 13):

Search straddles an increasingly complicated territory of marketing, media, technology, pop culture, international law, and civil liberties. It is fraught not only with staggering technological obstacles…but with nearly paralyzing social responsibility. If Google and companies like it know what the world wants, powerful organizations become quite interested in them, and vulnerable individuals see them as a threat.

In addition to Google’s firm grasp on search, they continue to create useful products that range from business tools to networking sites. As most know by now, Google’s Book Search is underway; the project is causing some friction and will likely lead to lawsuits. Nevertheless, I stick to my belief that Google should not be feared. Other companies and individuals should follow their lead if they want to stay ahead of the game. Or at least keep up with it.

A Bill of Rights for the Social Web?

Should social web sites adhere to certain codes of conduct in the best interest of their users? I, for one, believe that this is a great idea, but one that would be quite challenging to uphold.

On September 5, 2007, Marc Canter (founder of Broadband Mechanics) and Joseph Smarr (head techie at Plaxo) teamed together to publish a “Bill of Rights for Users of the Social Web.” In it, they lay out user “rights” specifically pertaining to ownership, control, and freedom of personal information. What I like best about this technological declaration is that they did not just sit down one day and carve these rules into stone; they presented the information in a blog-like format and opened it up for discussion, welcoming comments and suggestions.

With the dramatic expansion of social networking sites such Facebook and Myspace, it seems inevitable that someone would eventually come out and stand up for user rights. Besides, it would seem only natural that individuals who chose to present personal information about themselves would automatically expect a certain level of privacy, right?

Wrong.

Just last weekend, Facebook challenged these rights by publicly stating an adjustment in their terms of service. This caused quite a bit of commotion in the blogosphere. While it is uncertain how long this clause will last, this action has, in a way, opened up a can of worms. It is very likely that other networking sites will follow Facebook’s lead and take ownership of the data that is posted by their users. With the growing complexity and diversity of social networking sites, a part of me truly believes that this will be unavoidable.

People have debated the question of whether or not customer data belongs to the supplier, agency, or customer. While I agree with most that the customer should have full access rights to their own data, I am also a firm believer that the customer should take full responsibility of what they choose to post publicly. I came across these very useful tips (specifically for Facebook users) that allows the users to take matters into their own hands. While this does not completely stop Facebook from caching all your data, it enables the user to take better control of what is publicly viewable and what is kept private.

So, while a “Bill of Rights” can be useful, it would need to undergo constant evaluation since social networking sites are expanding at increasingly higher rates. Ultimately, it comes down to the users’ personal decisions.

Whose Podcast Is It Anyway?

I explored podcasts and vblogs for the first time this week. I’ve heard of both types of online media in the past but never actually gave them a try. Throughout and after each clip, I wondered to myself… WHO IS THE AUDIENCE?

First, I visited twit.tv and listened to the entirety of Sunday’s this week in tech. What I found most useful on this show was the talkers’ regular references to other sites, mainly backtype.com and celebrity twitter feeds. While I can find myself listening to some of the shows that twit.tv offers, I found this particular group of broadcasters slightly obnoxious. Sure, they offered some great insight on the new technologies that the world of blogging has to offer – but what’s up with the constant Seinfeld (and other) impersonations? I know they were just trying to spice up the conversation and be funny; however, I found this to become a bit tacky after a while.

I then visited Rocketboom.com. I enjoyed this site since many of the clips were under 5 minutes in length and easy to scroll through to pick and choose. The content (music and art) is also something I am interested in – so I would certainly place myself in that “audience.” Shortly after, I made a quick stop to askaninja.com. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out the purpose of this site! I quickly concluded that I was definitely not a part of the “audience” this site was aimed towards.

Webbalert.com focuses on highlights from Ted.com and is geared towards a more intellectual audience. I found myself venturing over to Ted.com to check out some of its fascinating videos. The concept of the 20-minute expert talks intrigued me to a point where I actually looked up conference dates to see when they would visit the D.C. area.

As for iTunes, I browsed through everything from President Obama’s weekly vblog to CNN’s Rachel Maddow show to Fitness clips. NPR’s  “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” reminded me of watching a studio game show, yet I learned a lot; the show gave new context to a way of keeping up with current events. My favorite of all podcasts was “This American Life,” which featured personal and narrated stories of ordinary American people. I tried listening to “CNET.com’s Buzz Out Loud” and “BoingBoing” podcasts, but those were more geared towards a specific tech-savvy audience and therefore it was harder for me to relate.

All in all, I’ve certainly found some new content to listen to while I sit and work in my office 🙂

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