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The thing that struck me most when reading Garrett Graff’s The First Campaign was how he put together the pieces of the technological landscape beginning with Dave Hughes in 1965, through his experiences with Howard Dean and up to today. He makes a powerful argument for all Americans – not just politicians – that the world as we know it has changed because of the internet and the sooner we understand and embrace it, the better.
Some of the consequences we have seen have been internalized mostly as pieces of this new tech landscape. But when we look at all the pieces collected together by Graff, we see the full scope and power of online conversations. Graff demonstrates that the internet allowed The Drudge Report in 1998 to break the Monica Lewinsky scandal, bloggers to report on then senate majority leader Trent Lott’s 2002 comment at Senator Strom Thurmond’s 100th birthday party, and the 2006 video of Senator George Allen’s racist remark to a University of Virginia student posted on YouTube for thousands of viewers.
Graff also points out Governor Dean, or rather, Dr. Dean’s rise in 2003 to demonstrate another side of the power of the internet. Utilizing the internet for grassroots fundraising as never done before, Dean raised a record $7.6 million in contributions from 73 thousand people with an average contribution of $112 in just one quarter. In July 2006 progressive bloggers teamed up with Ned Lamont to launch a fierce campaign against Connecticut’s Senator Joe Lieberman and his increasingly conservative views. The result? Joe Lieberman lost the Democratic primary and was forced to run as an independent to maintain his senate seat. This situation was a far cry from just six years prior when he ran on the Vice Presidential ticket with Al Gore!
News online used to mean either a mainstream news organization’s website or gossip. Now, Graff writes “ordinary people were stepping into the space” and thanks to the internet, politics is again “people powered.” He further writes that “nine out of ten Americans believe that if we fail to innovate, our economy and our children will be left behind in the twenty-first century.” Graff highlights this statistic to drive home his message that we are at a critical time in history when life and times are moving at such a rapid rate that if we don’t keep up, there will be painful consequences.
This blog won the 2007 PR News Platinum PR Award for their ability to allow customers a glimpse of the company, the employees and their corporate culture. Southwest Airlines (SWA) Blogger Brian Lusk says they call it their “blog 2.0 site.”
I have been a fan of Southwest Airlines since 2002. I fly them often and almost always enjoy speedy service, on time departures, friendly customer service agents and flight attendants who sometimes sing or at the very least tell a joke or two. (Remember the one that goes something like this – in the event of a loss cabin pressure, oxygen masks will be released overhead. If you’re traveling with a child or someone who is acting like a child, please secure your mask first and then assist them. LOL – that’s good stuff – see…it sticks with you!)
Anyway, it’s a great blog because employees and customers interact in much the same way as they do on their planes. Thinking back to those first few flights ever taken on SWA, their whole style of interaction took me by surprise. I was used to boarding at the appropriate time, taking my assigned seat and then sitting back without another word unless it was time to select a beverage. SWA changed all that. There was dialogue at the boarding process, lining up, jokes on the plane, free drink coupons and a card for your birthday. That’s similar to the conversation you’ll find on their blog. It’s filled with information about the blog itself, latest news, interviews, videos, podcasts, photos, services and special offers. They even have a poll each week where customers can vote on a particular topic and see the results the following week. Last but not least, they of course link you back to be able to book a flight to your desired destination.
SWA’s “Nuts About Southwest” blog is just what you’d want to find – it’s fun, interactive and filled with useful information.
Last month’s Wikipedia assignment was a challenge to say the least. I didn’t expect to have a successful entry but I did commit to following the rules and doing my best to share an important piece of information. As our class draws to an end, I wanted to share that Wikipedia’s U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) page was detailed and of course, accurate, but missed one important piece — the official role spouses play within the USMC. The Key Volunteer Network provides a valuable service to our Marines and they are now recognized by Wikipedia. Check it out!
themachineisus raises a great point about the speed of our society today with his blog post “the voicemail is dead.” themacineisus references Michael Arrington’s post on TechCruch arguing that voicemail is outside our workflow and then offers his own personal insight sharing names of services that are trying to make voicemail more efficient.
Sometimes, I think that you just do need to leave a message — a REAL message. However, I generally agree with themachineisus and Arrington. Do we really need or have the time to play back a message that just says “call me”? Obviously someone knows you want to talk when they see the caller ID. Isn’t that a sign that someone wants to speak with you? And if I have a quick question and busy at work, yes, I usually leave my email address. It’s faster and I don’t have the write down the information on a piece of paper. It’s already on the email message that I can print, save or forward on to someone else. All of this is much faster than a phone call or worse, playing phone-tag. In fact, now that I think about it, I spend more time emailing my family than I actually do on the phone. Oh and speaking about family, you can forget about phone calls in general with your teenage nieces and nephews – it’s strictly text only.
Perhaps I’ll look into services such as GrandCentral mentioned by themachineisus and help him get this movement along. Don’t worry, we will not be exchanging voicemails. We already know what we’re talking about so I’ll check out his Facebook page and we’ll email instead.
Recently I read ateedub’s blog posting on “Healthcare Delivery in the Internet Age” and found the discussions fascinating and inspiring. Let me just say right now that I completely agree with ateedub. I too am waiting for a change in healthcare. Not only do I believe all Americans should have access to healthcare but I also praise Dr. Ben Brewer’s efforts to establish an online doctors office. It’s disappointing that his site, the Forest Family Practice, will go dark at the end of the month because it was not embraced by patients in his rural Illinois community.
Just think of how this could change all our lives. If your child is sick in the middle of the night and you can simply go online, email Dr. Brewer your child’s symptoms, receive instant feedback and a prescription that is already being called in to your local pharmacy – wouldn’t you pay $30? What if you could save yourself a phone call to make an appointment, the gas and parking to get to the appointment, the lobby wait and time off from work? What if you’re home and the last thing you want to do is get out of bed but have the option to choose communicating with your doctor online via skype? It is worth the $30 to me!
Ateedub is right in that we need to know more about this story. Maybe the testing location of Forrest, IL wasn’t the best choice but I don’t see how patients weren’t interested. This is definitely revolutionary and I commend ateedub for bringing this into our class conversation. The opportunities for a virtual doctor office seem limitless and beneficial to everyone involved – doctors, patients and the insurance companies. Doesn’t the saying go – time is money?
This week our Social Media class assignment challenged us to review a country on Global Voices and listen to what the blogging community had to say. I started looking at Kenya and found myself excited with the various conversations taking place and in particular, those surrounding technology uses in their county.
Overall, Global Voice Kenya discussions fell into three categories: social, political and technology and marketplace. Socially, bloggers introduced conversations on women, marriage and relationships. Politically, the landscape included discussions on their new cabinet, the results of their recent presidential elections and the power sharing deal Kofi Anan helped to broker. Of course, Barack Obama running for president in the U.S. also has the attention of Kenyans with the bloggers calling him “Kenya’s most favorite son”.
But what I found really creative in the blog world was Kenya’s technology use and activism. For example, digital technology in Kenya is being used to help laborers find jobs by texting mobile subscribers daily updates of specific locations and work available. This saves workers time and money that they would have otherwise spent traveling distances from place to place in search of work. Mobile phones are also being used to advocate for their environment. In Kenya, local communities and the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) are often at odds because of elephants that leave the forest and wreak havoc on farmlands now found close to their habitats. Previously, with no system in place to warn other farmers of an elephant stampede, farmers would scream and beat metal tins. To elephants, however, this sounded like gunshots and only led to further chaos. Now, farmers can communicate using technology that combines the services of a mobile phone and walkie-talkie to alert each other and KWS. Kenyans have also developed ways to strengthen e-commerce by creating their Digital Villages Project that facilitates access to government and business services. Digital villages are revolutionizing rural communications by helping entrepreneurs start up or manage their businesses from wherever they are. It even assists victims of crime by eliminating the need to travel to Nairobi and often times, deal with corrupt government officials who will solicit a bribe from the victim before any transaction.
With these new approaches to technology, it is clear that Kenyans are given new power to effect change and improve their lives. Kenyans are empowered and furthermore, technology events throughout Africa are being held to broaden their scope and effectiveness throughout various countries.