Expectations, Campaign Practices and New Media: Obama’s Future Presidency

Young voters showed up in droves on Election Day 2008. According to The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, there was a five percent increase in the number of young voters (people between the ages of 18 and 29) who voted in 2008 compared to 2004. Furthermore, the youth vote accounted for 18 percent of the overall vote on Election Day. Finally, the young vote favored Barack Obama by a margin of two to one.

This relatively large upswing in the young vote was cultivated by Obama and his successful campaign. According to a recent article in Youth Media Reporter: The Professional Journal of the Youth Media Field, Obama recognized that proper use of the media is just as important as the message itself. Obama hit the ground running during the early part of his campaign, focusing on many new media tactics and Web 2.0 tools to advertise his message. According to a Washington Post article, Obama created his Web site by recruiting one of the founders of Facebook, a CNN producer and an individual who enjoys text messaging. Because of his use of these new media tools and tactics, young people were moved to vote for Obama; he spoke their language.

Now, Obama is set to take over the role of Commander-in-Chief on January 20, 2009. In large part, Obama has to thank these young, tech-savvy voters, whom he inspired via new media to vote for him. However, it is Obama’s responsibility to keep this relationship cultivated; as the president, he must continue to use the new media strategies he used during the campaign to maintain his popularity and status with the young voting bloc. [Read more…]

Obama’s Use of New Media will set a Precedent

With Barack Obama using the tools of the internet to win the Presidential election, I feel his Presidency will be connected to the youth than any other President in the past. In regards to new media, Obama started his post election win with a Youtube video address. This use of video brings the message he is wanting to get out directly to the individual person, almost like a personal video for each person, we can watch or not, or wait for a more convenient time to watch. The video was posted on his personal website along with the text of the address and the podcast version.

All three versions are great for those who rather not watch the first two minutes of a video, and just want to read, or those who want to just listen and not watch a video. If someone was really into the address, I guess they could even download it to i-tunes and listen to it, while they were running…or walking to class. The overall convenience of watching or listening to a video version is excellent, especially when people don’t always watch or listen to the speeches on the local stations or listen to the address on the radio at set times. I personally don’t think I have ever listened to a radio address by any President, first because, I didn’t know what time it was on, and secondly, I think I would forget to tune in. [Read more…]

Obama 2.0

Some say President-elect Obama has harnessed the power of the sun and used it to win an electoral landside victory to becoming the first African-American President and the first tech. savvy President as well. There is only one problem, it wasn’t the power of the sun, it was the power of online social interactive media (OSIM) and technology in general….which could mean solar power…which could mean the power of the sun….ignore that point. Obama created an army of mobile voters and works and used his magic microphone (a cellphone) to send them into battle with ease as they stood the night victorious, but what is next?

The question today is how does candidate 2.0 transition into president 2.0? Obama has already made great leaps and bounds in the field, firstly by opening up Change.gov. Change.gov is the official website of the president-elect and he uses just about ever facet of this technology to communicate effectively with the people. He posts regular web video addresses to the nation, allows you to apply online for jobs, read news articles, post questions and comments on its blog, yes its blog, learn about Obama/Biden policies and more.

This all in compassing site leaves little for tech. savvy nerds who like to blog about new media to think of that Obama will use next. He seems to be doing just about everything you can think of, so maybe the idea should be to look at what he can’t do or the negative impacts of all this new media access and openness. [Read more…]

Mumbai Terror, Citizen Journalism and New Media

Online Social-Interactive Media affect all aspects of life now–and death. Famously, journalism was called “the first draft of history” by Washington Post publisher Philip L. Graham. But now, with cell phones and pocket still and video digital cameras, OSIM and internet access, the initial reports from news scenes (especially breaking news) tend to be from citizens on-the-spot, not reporters.* We first witnessed this phenomenon’s power in video from the South Asia Tsunami and stills from the London Bombings. In politics, recall the stumble of the George Allen Senate Campaign over the “Macaca moment,” and then in the 2008 primary Barack Obama’s “bitter” comments. Politicians know (or should know): everyone in room is a potential journalist (or at least recorder and uploader of information) and nothing can truly be off-the-record. As a consequence, pols are more guarded than ever–this was true in the New Hampshire primary, typically a time for folksy engagement.

In such a light, some media tech notes from the Mumbai Terrorist attacks:

TERRORISTS USED GOOGLE EARTH TO RECON MUMBAI: According to a Mumbai crime branch official, the ten terrorists had not come to Mumbai before this to conduct any ‘recce’ and they had learnt about the locations with the help of Google Earth.

TWITTER UPDATES 0N TERROR HELP OR HURT?: News on the Bombay attacks is breaking fast on Twitter withhundreds of people using the site to update others with first-hand accounts of the carnage. The website has a stream of comments on the attacks which is being updated by the second, often by eye-witnesses and people in the city. Although the chatter cannot be verified immediately and often reflects the chaos on the streets, it is becoming the fastest source of information for those seeking unfiltered news from the scene. In the past hour, people using Twitter reported that bombings and attacks were continuing, but none of these could be confirmed. Others gave details on different locations in which hostages were being held. And this morning, Twitter users said that Indian authorities was asking users to stop updating the site for security reasons: One person wrote: “Police reckon tweeters giving away strategic info to terrorists via Twitter”. [Read more…]

Saving Face on Facebook

A recent article for which I was interviewed, “Saving Face on Facebook,”written by Sarah Skelnik, appeared in Career College Central.

One of the most interesting facts detailed in the article is that “one in 10 admissions officers visits social networking sites to check students’ backgrounds.” I am surprised that the number is so low, and I wonder whether a number of those surveyed may have been reluctant to admit that they are checking student applicants’ backgrounds that way.

In any case, background-checking websites–blogs, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube–or any other Web content associated with you will only become more important and influential over time. Actually, the issue itself is fairly old. Mark Twain and President Harry Truman both asserted that you should never say or do anything that you wouldn’t feel comfortable reading about on the front page of the newspaper. But in their time newspapers were strictly defined in a professional sense and reporters were hired professionals. Nowadays, citizen journalism has become a widespread phenomenon and everyone, it seems, especially of college age, is becoming a self-caster–or, to use the term I have suggested to replace producer/receiver, they have become interactors,* creating their own media content, often about themselves and their own activities.

As the College Central article points out, there are considerable blowback possibilities when you tell (and show) everybody online everything about your ideas, opinions, and actions. I spoke a few months ago to a large group of college-age political activists. Many of them were thinking about running for elected office one day. As I told them, everything you say or show online may come back to haunt you. The same is true for applications to college or jobs.

The ethical issues, both for the poster and the background checker, are many, but the phenomenon is real, so be careful what you post! Specifically… [Read more…]

Twitter Rules

I was interviewed for separate articles on the Twitter phenomenon that appeared on the McClatchy News Service and in the Lawrence Journal-World newspaper. I talked about the origins of Twitter, how much it has caught on, and its effects. I further noted how Barack Obama’s Twittering will have a downballot effect on other politicians running for office who want to emulate him.

Some quotes:

“There’s definitely tech envy,” said Perlmutter, author ofBLOGWARS, a book about how political blogging changed elections. When politicians hear about their peers successfully using other media, he said, “you’re going to want to try it yourself.”

“When I first heard about Twitter, I couldn’t possibly come up with a use for it,” said David Perlmutter, professor of journalism at Kansas University and author of the book “Blog Wars.” “I thought, ‘Why would I want to alert everybody that I’m having a tuna sandwich?’ It seemed like something you didn’t need technology to do.” But Perlmutter is amazed at how Twitter has become what he calls “this phenomenon of utility. . .So much of our life now these days is fast-moving, fleeting, and that describes Twitter.”



By Alex Parker


By Lisa Zagaroli


Twitter was also in the news lately in how it can scoop the news. The Hudson river plane crash was tweeted by a witness who took pictures on his cell phone–and beat all the professional press to the story.


Update on Wednesday, February 4, 2009 at 04:45PM by Registered Commenterdavid.d.perlmutter

More and more businesses are using Twitter for employees and customers. A recent USA Today article talks about Twitter and travel agencies. One travel agent compared Twitter to an “information booth.” Another (in the comments) calls it a “mini-megaphone.”

Originally posted January 20, 2009 at PolicyByBlog

Texting Ourselves to Death?

 [Image: Scott Frederick Starrett]


I hosted a conference and co-wrote the report for a summit of experts on the TOP TRANSPORTATION & ENERGY ISSUES FACING THE NATION* sponsored by The University of Kansas Transportation Research Institute (KU TRI), presented by The Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics and theUniversity of Kansas School of Engineering, and funded by the U.S. Department of Transportation Research and Innovation Technology Administration & Federal Highway Administration.

Our main point was that America has tried many times to create a national transportation policy over the last century, with the latest and most comprehensive attempt in 2000-2001. None of these ventures was conceived or executed at the presidential level save possibly President Eisenhower’s “National Defense Highway System.” Now humankind confronts interrelated crises of energy and transportation in a rapidly changing world where we must deal with spiking petroleum prices, decaying bridges, growing congestion in all modes, an aging and inattentive driver population, a shortage of adequately trained transportation engineers, and the diverse ramifications of global climate change. The next president and next Congress of the United States of America will need to tackle each of these challenges immediately. Their decisions will affect the fate of the species and the planet.

The summit then identified (a) a “top 9” list (see below) of the most pressing problems facing the nation and (b) a range of options for government and industry to consider. Some of the items on the menu of options reflected disagreement on courses of action, but everyone agreed that for each of these crises, America needs to take some actions immediately.










The issue that was most obviously related to online social-interactive media and new technological gadgetry was DRIVER DISTRACTION.

What we found was that despite the many safety features and improvements in modern vehicular transport and roadways, about ten times more Americans die each year in car accidents than have been killed in the entire Iraq war. Many causes of roadway mayhem, such as drunk driving, are well publicized. But impairment due to alcohol or drugs is actually a subset of a much larger problem that is becoming a crisis that can affect the lives of any of us and cost the country immense sums in accidents and damage: driver distraction. A wave of research conducted at KU and other universities shows that our gadgets are, when used while driving, killing us.


Some numbers:

— Cell phone distraction—which likely is severely under-measured or recorded—officially causes some 2,600 deaths and 330,000 injuries in the United States each year. Driver distraction from other factors, both long-standing (children in the car) and recent (video screens in the driver’s view) are also a factor in roadway accidents. For example, cell phone users have been found to be 5.36 times more likely to get in an accident than undistracted drivers. The risk is about the same as for drivers with a 0.08% blood-alcohol level. In other words, the distractions associated with talking on a cell phone while driving are as or more debilitating than driving legally drunk.

— Talking on a cell phone while driving a car reduces attention in younger adults so that they have an average increase in accident risk of between 200 and 700%. The act of driving while talking on a cell phone is a classic example of a dual task. While on a cell phone, especially in the initial minutes of a conversation, a driver will be almost completely unaware of surrounding traffic.

— Driver distraction due to communications devices can be broken into two components: physical distraction and cognitive distraction. The physical distraction of holding the phone while driving has been shown to have very little effect on driving performance. Cognitive distractions, on the other hand—caused by the conversation rather than the physical factors—have been found to be the primary source of driver distraction. Even with these findings, drivers and legislators tend to focus primarily on physical distraction. [Read more…]

Perlmutter at Jeremy Taylor Show

I was a guest on the Jeremy Taylor Show on 1320 am radio in Lawrence. Our planned topic was “What will happen next in politics and media and our personal lives after the very prominent rise of online social-interactive media in campaign 2008?”

Among my points:

  • It will be interesting to see how the Obama administration uses OSIM in governing and gaining support for policies, programs, and projects in a different or similar way than they did for winning votes and raising money for the presidential election. I suggested that it would be a mistake to overdo OSIM–that is, if all those who had given their text message address to the Obama campaign received a note from him daily, there would be a significant turn-off of interest and enthusiasm. Like all weapons in politics or war, OSIM outreach must be used prudently.
  • Second, referring to my previous post on a “slow blogging movement,” I wonder whether we will reach a saturation effect, with instantaneousness, interactivity, and the confusion of information and misinformation that is sweeping over us. Just as for the “slow food” or “localivore” movement, will people want to reduce the amount of stuff being thrown at them and seek out higher quality and even slower venues of news and political information?

Since Mr. Taylor and I are both World War II buffs, we also spared a few moments to discuss the movie “Valkyrie.” I noted that it is intriguing to speculate how much history would have been changed if some of the new communications technologies existed in previous eras. In the Valkyrie case, imagine the impact of instant messaging on the plot to kill Hitler!

Actually, you could make a case that there was text-messaging in the Third Reich….


Originally posted January 31, 2009 at PolicyByBlog

The End of Geoprivacy

Ever have the feeling that someone is spying on you?

Today, it’s more likely that you are broadcasting enough information thatanyone can spy on you.

In the most recent issue of Wired magazine, freelance writer Mathew Honan recounts his “I am here”adventures of a “3-week experiment of living la vida local.” Using all the new technology (software and hardware) especially iPhone apps, he demonstrates how easy it is to be constantly monitoring your environment electronically as well as for everybody to know where you are. For example, with the program WhoseHere, you can send your latitude and longitude location and instantly get responses from other people in the area. The responses, needless to say, range from “I’m looking for sex” to “Really great coffee shop.”

Other interesting revelations: “Because iPhones embed geodata into photos that users upload to Flickr or Picasa, iPhone shots can be automatically placed on a map.” In other words, people will know exactly where you were when you took the picture. Interestingly, Honan concludes the article by describing how he almost got into a car accident because he was so busy getting “better location awareness” through his various geo gadgets that he didn’t notice a car (a Prius, of course!) stopping short in front of him. He concludes that technology cannot replace “look[ing] around the old-fashioned way” and keeping a “sense of place.”

One such app, Google Latitude, is already occasioning controversy.

Let’s call this the question of geoprivacy. [Read more…]

Darryl (From “The Office”): Everyone is a Paparazzo?

On this site and in my classes, we have talked a lot about the changes inpolitics and other parts of life and labor that easy Internet access, online social-interactive media, and the cell phone (with its picture, sound and video capture and upload capabilities) have occasioned. In politics, we know that the personal appearance is different because a politician never knows who in the audience might get them on video or record them in some other way and YouTube a quote or a rant or just a funny picture. Celebrities of other kinds–like athletes and entertainers–have always faced the dilemma of being “outed” while in private by paparazzi. Now in the same way that everyone is a potential journalist, everyone is also a potential paparazzo. What are the privacy rights of individuals anywhere–OUR GEOPRIVACY? Should ordinary fans or witnesses know or care? At a minimum, it is pretty clear that if a celebrity like, say, a star of a TV show, appears in a public venue, the public has a perfect right to and shouldn’t feel any ethical qualms about capturing him/her for wider viewing.

And let’s face it, celebrities thrive on celebrity and are using the new tech (like Twitter) to show off their own backstage lives (or parts of them).

Here is a case study: Below is the narrative description by one of my students, who encountered “Darryl” (actor Craig Robinson) from NBC’s The Office. The ethical nuance here is that Mr. Robinson was not quietly having a drink in a corner but performing for the crowd, so there is even less of a problem with deciding to “YouTube” him.


At the end of December break I went to a bar called Pete’s Dueling Piano Bar (Dallas, TX). A dueling piano bar is when two pianists sit at pianos that face each other as they play song requests from the audience. My friends and I were about to leave when we heard commotion and people running in our direction. I looked up from my friends and saw Darryl from The Office on stage. He showed up out of nowhere and began singing on one of the pianos. Everybody began taking pictures and recording him on their cameras and cell phones. It was really exciting to see somebody famous right before my eyes. My friend was taking pictures on her blackberry, and sent me an email instantly with one of the pictures she had taken. Darryl then played the opening song from The Office and disappeared as fast as he had appeared.

[Read more…]