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Archive for November 11th, 2008

The DorobekInsider Obama reader — Part One… some of the tea leaves

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In a presidential race that has gone on for nearly two years, there has been a lot written about these candidates — and particularly President-elect Barack Obama. That being said, despite our best attempts, there has not been all that much written about what it is going to mean to government other then to say that he wanted to make government service cool again.

One of the things that will be particularly interesting is how the Obama administration uses technology.

The administration has posted a technology policy, which was posted on the candidates site. And, in fact, press reports have noted that President-elect Barack Obama’s Web site already taps into the social networking aspects by asking people for their stories… and their hopes and concerns.

But perhaps we can learn how the Obama administration might manage by looking at how the campaign won its campaign.

One of the better stories I read was in the September/October 2008 issue of MIT’s Technology Review.

How Obama Really Did It
The social-networking strategy that took an obscure senator to the doors of the White House.

Joe Trippi, Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign manager and Internet impresario, describes Super Tuesday II–the March 4 primaries in Texas, Ohio, Vermont, and Rhode Island–as the moment Barack Obama used social tech­nology to decisive effect. The day’s largest hoard of dele­gates would be contested in Texas, where a strong showing would require exceptional discipline and voter-education efforts. In Texas, Democrats vote first at the polls and then, if they choose, again at caucuses after the polls close. The caucuses award one-third of the Democratic delegates.

Hillary Clinton’s camp had about 20,000 volunteers at work in Texas. But in an e-mail, Trippi learned that 104,000 Texans had joined Obama’s social-­networking site,, known as MyBO. MyBO and the main Obama site had already logged their share of achievements, particularly in helping rake in cash. The month before, the freshman senator from Illinois had set a record in American politics by garnering $55 million in donations in a single month. In Texas, MyBO also gave the Obama team the instant capacity to wage fully networked campaign warfare. After seeing the volunteer numbers, Trippi says, “I remember saying, ‘Game, match–it’s over.'”

The Obama campaign could get marching orders to the Texans registered with MyBO with minimal effort. The MyBO databases could slice and dice lists of volunteers by geographic micro­region and pair people with appropriate tasks, including prepping nearby voters on caucus procedure. “You could go online and download the names, addresses, and phone numbers of 100 people in your neighborhood to get out and vote–or the 40 people on your block who were undecided,” Trippi says. “‘Here is the leaflet: print it out and get it to them.’ It was you, at your computer, in your house, printing and downloading. They did it all very well.” Clinton won the Texas primary vote 51 to 47 percent. But Obama’s ­people, following their MyBO playbook, so overwhelmed the chaotic, crowded caucuses that he scored an overall victory in the Texas delegate count, 99 to 94. His showing nearly canceled out ­Clinton’s win that day in Ohio. Clinton lost her last major opportunity to stop the Obama juggernaut. “In 1992, Carville said, ‘It’s the economy, stupid,'” Trippi says, recalling the exhortation of Bill Clinton’s campaign manager, James Carville. “This year, it was the network, stupid!”

The story mostly focuses on the campaign, but… it also addresses governing.

If Obama is elected, his Web-oriented campaign strategy could carry over into his presidency. He could encourage his supporters to deluge members of Congress with calls and e-mails, or use the Web to organize collective research on policy questions. The campaign said in one of its prepared statements that “it’s certain that the relationships that have been built between Barack Obama and his supporters, and between supporters themselves, will not end on Election Day.” But whether or not a President Obama takes MyBO into the West Wing, it’s clear that the phenomenon will forever transform campaigning. “We’re scratching the surface,” Trippi says. “We’re all excited because he’s got one million people signed up–but we are 300 million people in this country. We are still at the infancy stages of what social-­networking technologies are going to do, not just in our politics but in everything. There won’t be any campaign in 2012 that doesn’t try to build a social network around it.”

Lessig warns that if Obama wins but doesn’t govern according to principles of openness and change, as promised, supporters may not be so interested in serving as MyBO foot soldiers in 2012. “The thing they [the Obama camp] don’t quite recognize is how much of their enormous support comes from the perception that this is someone different,” Lessig says. “If they behave like everyone else, how much will that stanch the passion of his support?”

Read the full story here. [registration required]

The Obama campaign even created an iPhone application, Technology Review reported.

In the same issue of Technology Review, there is this story:

Does the U.S. Need a CTO?
Mitch Kapor, a pioneer of personal computing, says the position is vital given the growing importance of technology.

Advertising Age magazine named Barack Obama as the “marketer of the year” as a result of the campaign’s ability to tap into data.

Adaptable Team Stays on Message While Using Social Networking to Build Voter Roles

Detractors may mock Barack Obama these days as a celebrity, a candidate who promises little more than vague abstractions such as “hope” and “change.” But no one should forget that he usurped the inevitable Clinton machine and has been considered the man to beat in this election.

Not too shabby for an African-American, first-term Democratic senator from Illinois (with the funny-sounding name) who was considered a long shot when Election 2008 got off to an early start back in 2006.

How did he do it? The first step was taking the lessons learned from the Howard Dean campaign four years ago and turning them into internet-based fundraising that stunned Democrats and Republicans alike. In the most obvious example of what happened, Sen. Hillary Clinton, who thought that by sewing up the party’s biggest fundraisers she had closed out rivals, found not only that it didn’t matter but that the old way of raising money couldn’t compete with the new way.

That new way didn’t simply use e-mail to complement direct mail and other old-fashioned methods. The Obama campaign tapped into the latest developments of social networking. It hired Chris Hughes, one of the founders of Facebook. What the team ended up creating wasn’t simply a way to earn more money from small donors than previously thought possible; it created an Obama-specific network that took advantage of and built upon the movement-like quality of the Obama campaign. By the time other candidates on either side of the aisle got around to copying, they were too late to the party.

Read the full story here.

There are many more, but this is a start.

Written by cdorobek

November 11, 2008 at 3:28 PM

Posted in Transition, Web 2.0, White House

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Happy Veteran’s Day 2008

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vetsday08-medHappy Veteran’s Day 2008. Most government workers are off today, which always makes it a bit odd to be working at a publication or radio station that covers… the government.

One of the things I’ve been proud of in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is that we, as a society, have evolved and learned from our mistakes. During the Vietnam War era, we treated our soldiers horribly. Some people got so caught up in their opposition to the war… that they forgot that the soldiers were doing what they were told to do — and, in the end, that is the only way we would want it. They perform with courage and they are doing the work that I would not want to do. So for that, I thank all of them.

So… some Veterans Day resources…

The Department of Veterans Affairs has a whole page dedicated to Veterans Day, as you might imagine… including the poster here, and ones from previous years.

Arlington National Cemetery has a Web site, including the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

You could visit the Vietnam War memorial… the Korean War memorial… the WW II memorial

And the Census looks at Veterans by the numbers:

Veterans Day 2008: Nov. 11

Veterans Day originated as “Armistice Day” on Nov. 11, 1919, the first anniversary of the end of World War I. Congress passed a resolution in 1926 for an annual observance, and Nov. 11 became a national holiday beginning in 1938. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation in 1954 to change the name to Veterans Day as a way to honor those who served in all American wars. The day has evolved into also honoring living military veterans with parades and speeches across the nation. A national ceremony takes place at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia.

23.6 million
The number of military veterans in the United States in 2007.
Source: Table 502, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2009 Female Veterans

1.8 million
The number of female veterans in 2007.
Source: Source: Table 502, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2009

Percentage of Gulf War veterans in 2007 who were women.
Source: Table 503, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2009 Race and Hispanic Origin

2.4 million
The number of black veterans in 2007. Additionally, 1.1 million veterans were Hispanic; 278,000 were Asian; 165,000 were American Indian or Alaska Native; 27,000 were Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander; and 18.7 million were non-Hispanic white. (The numbers for blacks, Asians, American Indians and Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and Other Pacific Islanders, and non-Hispanic whites cover only those reporting a single race.)
Source: 2007 American Community Survey When They Served

9.3 million
The number of veterans 65 and older in 2007. At the other end of the age spectrum, 1.9 million were younger than 35.
Source: Table 503, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2009

7.9 million
Number of Vietnam-era veterans in 2007. Thirty-three percent of all living veterans served during this time (1964-1975). In addition, 5 million served during the Gulf War (representing service from Aug. 2, 1990, to present); 2.9 million in World War II (1941-1945); 3 million in the Korean War (1950-1953); and 6.1 million in peacetime.
Source: Table 503, Statistical Abstract of the United States: 2009

In 2007, number of living veterans who served during both the Vietnam and Gulf War eras.

Other living veterans in 2007 who served during two or more wars:
315,000 served during both the Korean and Vietnam wars.
69,000 served during three periods: World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
263,000 served during World War II and the Korean War. Source: 2007 American Community Survey
Where They Live

More stats from the Census after the break.
Read the rest of this entry »

Written by cdorobek

November 11, 2008 at 8:21 AM

Posted in Circuit

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