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Crash Course in Swing State Strategy: Cool Map on John Edwards Site

This is a very cool map. It allows users to pick states and shift strategy. I like it because it is interactivity fosters instruction on strategic impact. I would love to see local groups working on a campaigns to raise money to save a river, mobilize turnout, door knock,etc. use something like this for local campaign efforts.

I might try to make one of these for the Inner Purple Line project. How many people from which neighborhoods need to support the Inner Purple Line project to organize 10,000 local voters. (The project is being killed by a small group of country club voters).

John Edwards: Interactive Electoral Map


Social Nets for Advocacy: How Many Social Nets?

I think the team at Social Software are asking the wrong style questions. They are looking at the tools, business models and the competitive self interest of the individual organizations trying to make money from connecting people.

The problem with the tools so far is that they are businesses and not a mode of connection. It is like the difference between asking are there to many book stores or are there to many Barnes and Nobels? Coffee shops and bars vs. starbucks and ESPN Zones?

The good news is there is a great list of the social network tools that are out there. How Many Social Nets Are Too Many? - The Social Software Weblog - socialsoftware.weblogsinc.com

Today in Wired News, Leander Kahney has a story — Social Nets Not Making Friends — in which he talks about: an SNS backlash brewing; Jason Kottke’s parody job listing on craiglist.org; and the fact that the social networking service field has “ballooned to include about 20 different services.” ..............there are more than 100 social networking services that I have been observing

The comments are also pretty cool.

The dating, sales and find a mate services are popular. I think just like the rest of the internet trends engagement and advocacy are sure to find ways to exploit these new technologies. The value for campaigns and coalitions would be immense.

Strategic communication and advocacy is about getting messages to target audiences which is what these tools help "streamline". The goal is to tease out of all the data collected a visual chain of trusted friends pass information through to the final receiver.

Instead of sales think about an advocacy message to the director of a community group, a rancher, fisherman or media contact.

Take a Peak at this network map http://www.visiblepath.com/images/screenshots/ss_map_zoom.html','width=700,height=486

I imagine a tool for a campaigns (Endangered Species Coalition) where the company is the coalition staff from 100s of nonprofits. The extranet is the boards, volunteers and friends of the team and the world is the soccer moms, nascar dads or other key targets in office or industry. It may be none of these tools but I am hopeful that our campaigns are starting exploring this with a tenth of the money we spend on the indirect channels of connection like TV and media ads.


The Political Power of a Few Snowflakes: The Lesson of the Avalanche

teamwork.jpg

Rachel's Network does a nice story on the environmental strategy looking at LCV's efforts to moblize support in key states. I am concerned that the sector is dumping to many resources into the defined battles and not enough in building capacity to deal with the snowball events that swing populations.

In addition to changing its election-year focus, the league is overhauling its political tactics. Rather than investing heavily in a barrage of television advertisements and direct mailings, it plans to spend 75 percent of its campaign budget on grassroots organizing. The group's goal is to mobilize 25,000 volunteers to help educate like-minded voters and get them to the polls. Plans are also under way to organize activists on 90 to 100 college campuses.

The league's new approach, which it calls the "Environmental Victory Project," will zero in on four states where the presidential vote was breathtakingly close in 2000: Florida, New Mexico, Oregon, and Wisconsin. In each of those states, a shift of less than 1 percent of the vote would have changed whether Bush or Al Gore won the state. Of the four, Gore won all but Florida, which was decided in the courts. The league also plans to be active in three Bush states -- Arizona, Nevada, and Ohio -- where a swing of less than 4 percent of the vote would have given the Democrats victory.

"W" and Carl Rove have $200 million to play with and 6,000,000 email addresses. He has the ability to control the tempo and timing of all policy maneuvers, rules and regulations. They also can land "W" on another aircraft carrier or pull some other similar media sweetheart stunt to swamp out any the media momentum that a campaign can build. It is an amazing machine.

A heavy portion of environmental advocacy had better start focusing on exploiting those few moments when the snow becomes unstable and the movement can take advantage of the snowball effect to wreak havoc with the control that opponents are using to dismantle environmental,worker and family protections.


Eurekster: Free Tools for Coalitions and Campaigns : Build Your Teams Collective Research and Filter Capacity

This is a cool little toy (Eurekster) that I have been playing with for a few days. (Thanks for the intro from the E-volve list) . The tool is essentially a basic search engine. (I put the favorite link in my IE toolbar and click there when I am doing work related searches.) The search results seem as good as Google.

IE. "Network Advocacy" on Google = 1820
"Network Advocacy" on Eurekster = 2204

I have been playing with Eurekster a bit more and I am really digging the way that we can be aware of each others searches and favorite sites (without me knowing it is you) . Anyway, its pretty cool and I am thinking that it could be very useful for a campaign or coalition.

How?
Step 1.- Core campaign team signs up and invite each other to join. The core team becomes a part of each others eurekster search network.
Step 2. - Everyone on the team installs the search toolbar or sets up a favorite link so the group uses the search as a primary search tool in regular work flow.
Step 3. - Members regularly watch resent sites and recent searches to see if they can help each other find key information or work together on a project.
Step 4. - Also use search as a to-do list for the day (I.E. GOTV mobilization in the Denver Area or Develop a content page on Energy Pipeline impacts).

Sounds Easy. What are the potential Payoffs?

Payoffs:
The team gets to see recent search terms of the team with masked email links to the people who are doing these searches. The tool enables the campaign to "swarm" hot issues, the days to-dos and hot stories faster. The campaign team can sense emerging issues and needs based on what people are searching for. What would it tell you about your campaign if you saw lots of searching around a bill, article, or legislation?

Team can see the recent sites other team members are surfing (where is the team spending work related online time..have other members just been there...www.greenmediatoolshed.org, the press room of a congressional committee , the main national organization working on the campaign or a local group or blog with lots of content on a specific subject.) Eurekster starts to dynamically generate the list of repositories for work related information.

The team can see each others "top searches". This is a valuable sense of what information the network of the campaign is looking for and could identify needs. We need to do some more content on how to write a press release or a check list for lobby days, we need talking points on the wildfires, we need factiods on BLM, etc.

The team can see top sites on the issue Is it a news site or the site set up for the campaign? This can show where the top content is that the network relies on. It can also encourage members of the group to publish work that they have already developed but not shared because they don't know the value of it.

Finally, The most important features besides the "secure" shared filtered search is the social networking component. If people in your campaign have been doing searches or visiting sites a little email icon appears next to the search or site. You can't tell who was where but you now have the capacity to contact whoever was working on that site or search. THIS IS HUGE.

THE MOST IMPORTANT FEATURE IS THE EMAIL LINK "You are receiving this email from Marty on eurekster. They saw you visit 'Joshua Tree National Park (National Park Service)'. Your identity has not been revealed to Marty but it will be if you choose to reply to this email. If you would rather not be contacted like this please change your user preferences here: http://home.eurekster.com/manageaccount.htm"

This allows you to send an email to the person that spent time on the site or sent the search. A way to say "hey I can help" or "I need that too". This will help build (weak ) ties among staff that don't know each other .

Finally, this tool would help people that join a campaign in progress quickly get up to speed on the favorite sites of the campaign the searches and needs and offer them a way to plug in where there skills are. It would show what the people on the team are working on (to do searches) and an email link to help those folks connect. This is huge.

I can't wait to see some healthy campaigns play with this if each campaign of 50 added this and then were able to add volunteers and Board members ..we could see campaigns decentralize work very quickly.

(more to come) ..If you know me expect an invitation to my eurekster network.



Steroids, Cows and Iowa: Update your Campaign Strategy

Lessons from the Iowa Caucus, the mad cow and Bush's new war on steroids have inspired me to ramp up the volume on my rant that the advocacy movement need to update our basic advocacy architecture and campaign strategies to adopt to a much more dynamic political landscape. We are fighting campaigns from 20 years ago. We are directed by "strategists, funders and leadership" that were part of the great policy successes of the second wave of conservation (1960s- 1980s). They come from an era of advocacy when there was relative parity in electoral power and organizational growth correlated with increases the ability to project political power. The tempo was more predictable and the agenda was more controllable.

Those days are gone.

Iowa.
1. Momentum matters.
Kerry seemed to pile up an amazing amount of good will with a few amazing stories that broke at exactly the right time. I was moved by the appearance of the Republican Sheriff from LA - Jim Rassman, Rassman was pulled out of the waters of a river in Vietnam under heavy fire by John Kerry. The story was not predictable and it framed Kerry perfectly. It highlighted his service to the country and reinforced his ads. It also grabbed him when he was tired from campaigning and on an emotional roller coaster that a campaign entails. Kerry's genuine display of emotion shattered his negatives (viwes that he was a stodgy, distant and aloof). It was beautiful and totally unpredictable.

2. Internet Tools matter most to complement Momentum.
Every campaign website now has decentralized tools (Dean, Kerry and Bush) making it easy for local volunteers to "run with the ball". Anyone who joined Kerry or Edwards camps in the final days could instantly self organize. They had all the content and tools at their fingertips. They could instantly start sending email, postcards, print labels, sign up sheets and posters. The volunteers could download the talking points, fact sheets and opposition research to defend their new candidate (in 1988 you would have needed a huge organization to win but no longer). Kerry was also able to raise $365,000 on the bump.

3. Message and content matter.
You need to know what you are good at and know what your core strengths are. Kerry was flying a helicopter (looks good and in charge) Dean was getting insider endorsements (how does Carter excite Dean's base or reinforce the outsider message?)

4. TV and Media Matter.
The rise of Edwards with paper endorsements and the bloody air wars totally affected the results. When the smartest campaigners in the country that have endless budgets for ads, door knockers and grassroots face time they still invest heavily in a smart communications campaign. Spend more time on cultivating smart communication plan and less time on reports.

The Mad Cow (merits an entire rant)

1. Life is unpredictable but not really. Adopt.
Four years after starting GMT, I have seen countless real world events come to dominate the media landscape. These events result in major shifts policy debate, public opinion and environmental laws. These trigger events are often to difficult to predict. Our current cycle of "idea- proposals- grant cycles - building campaign- launching campaign -rinse -repeat" will not work. Events and opportunities to move policy are short. These event driven campaigns are difficult to squeeze thru the step-by-step membership and fundraising approach and almost impossible to predict for individual groups on a 12 month budgeting process.

2. The environmental movement was not prepared to take advantage of some of the major stories of 2003 (events like Mad cow, the Northeast blackout, California wildfires, Propane tanker fire in NYC harbor and the random governmental dismantling of air or water protections).

Bush's Steroid War (I like to call it the army doesn't like aggressive and uncontrollable recruits initiative or the protect our meathead constituency so they can reproduce a new generation of GOP plan )
1. They are in charge.
There is no single way that funders or organizers can accurately predict the events that will set the agenda in 2004. The advocacy movement does "not control" any of the great soapbox leavers in the one party America. Therefore, it is important to begin to reorganize capacity to support groups that will end up on the “front line” trying to manage the response to trigger event. If we can not control the agenda, we can at least begin to better inject messages into the public debate during the moments when no one is in control.

2. The policy agenda and the terms of the debate (to the extent possible) are going to be carefully controlled by the current administration.
Tighter regulation of pollution, tougher enforcement of the law and protection of clean air, clean water, public right to know and green space are not on the agenda. Steroids are.


Network Advocacy Lessons from the Cattlemen

I have been passively watching the mad cow story for the last several weeks. I have been incredibly impressed by the masterful response of the cattlemen in the face of such a potential blow to the industry and their power. They have done everything right.

This is an absolutely amazing story of a coalition response to a possible agenda trigger event. The cattle industry had done a full blown rapid response plan to control multiple media cycles and the policy implications that would trickle down from the first US infection. It is a relevant case study of network advocacy in motion.

The larger question is why the environmental and organic community did not have an effective counter punch to push for tighter controls on the industry overall. Why was there not more attention to past quotes that voluntary compliance would keep mad cow out of the US. The debates was quickly framed as an industry in control. The calls for stronger tracking of unit movement, regulation of kill floors, exposure of the industrialization of beef production, air-pollution issues, anti-biotic abuse and waste management were not effectively injected into the debate. The momentum has already shifted and respect for cattle industry increased in the wake of a major event such as the mad cow crossing into the US and making it into the food supply.

As has been pointed out here before, the environmental movement has no coordinated rapid attack (or response) capacity for mad cow or any other predictable crisis (cancer clusters, oil platform, spills, fires, floods, etc. ) The movement does not plan to pivot advocacy strategy on the events that dominate the political and policy landscape. Our organizations and funders remain tied to step-by-step campaigns in a world that is increasingly dominated policy windows that open and shut in an erratic sequence hopelessly tied to media cyclones.

I would love to see the written basic response plan that they used.

This article gives us a glimpse of very smartly planned and by the book network response.

1. when a crisis surfaced that struck directly at beef sales, it had a plan.
2. Washington lobbyists began tracking down members of Congress, who were home for the holidays, and discussing the response with officials at the Agriculture Department.
3. Message volume and messenger saturation Teams of experts in all 50 states were made available to the news media to get out the group's message.
4. Electronic response ready to go. And the association posted a Web page, created years ago but held in reserve, to educate the public.
5. Pre-identified ideals and acceptable compromises laid out The initial response was the first line of defense for an industry facing the largest test of its clout in years. It then embraced regulations imposed by the Agriculture Department on Tuesday, including an about-face on a provision the industry had long opposed and had defeated in the House earlier this year.
6. All staff off tasked to event management
7. Enabled other message surrogates to carry the message. (officials at the Agriculture Department, including Secretary Ann M. Veneman, and Congress as the industry sought to gather and disseminate information. I would assume they had talking points, fact sheets, images and visuals that projected a story that this was a small problem and that the industry has a record of concern and management of the issues.
8. Amazing spin control moving focus off all industry work against the very legislation that would have helped prevent the outbreak in the past. (counter to quote) Mr. Keys said the association made a steadfast effort at transparent communication with consumers about the diseased cow and the safety of the meat supply. They also continued to hammer the myth that the industry is related to small family farms.
9. A strategy to slow the pace of reform (until it is a page three story)"We want to make sure that anything we do has a practical and real effect," Mr. Keys said. "We don't want to do things that are window dressing and political posturing. When you succumb to that kind of thing, it always bites you."
10. Political activism : Cattle and livestock interests have given almost $22 million to political campaigns since the 1990 elections, with three-quarters going to Republicans, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, which tracks campaign finance.

Kudos to the cattlemen. A job well done.

Full Article For Cattle Industry, a Swift Response Years in the Making

How should you prepare


Reuters Covers the Virus but Misses the Connection to US Politics.

Reuters London office picks up on the virus that is possibly linked to US politics. The Beagle launches in the US on the eve to Iowa and self-destructs the day after New Hampshire. It does look like this virus may complicate campaigns that are dependent on email organizing. Reuters - January 19, 2004 03:55 PM ET - London, A new computer virus capable of harvesting millions of e-mail addresses from infected PCs was rapidly spreading across the Internet Monday.

Security experts said it is patterned after the recent "Sobig" and "Mimail" outbreaks..A host of virus-detection firms had placed their most severe ratings on the e-mail.


Iowa Caucus GOTV teams (and NH) Are Likely Targets of Computer Virus

politicsonline

There is something shady afoot. The online newsletter PoliticsOnline blasted out a virus on the day of the Iowa Caucus. Is this the first Internet attack on the Internet campaigns at a critical moment that could swing an election? Are hackers able to influence politics? The Virus starts today and ends the day after the NH primary!

The distribution of the worm is very small and expires very quickly by design. One of the few sites that it targeted is PoliticsOnline. The virus does little damage but it could clog email systems where lots of people are exposed. I have been on PoliticsOnline for over a year and I have never had them send me a virus. Why today?

Could it have anything to do with the election and the PoliticsOnline focus? PoliticsOnline is a great little online newsletter that provides email news about some of the ways campaigns are using technology. I would assume that the target audience is very political and that a large swath of technically savvy campaign folks subscribe to the PoliticsOnline newsletter. A targeted virus could disrupt the email communications of a campaign and make relying on email for GOTV and coordination difficult. It will be interesting to see who launched the virus and if any campaign took last minute precautions against relying on email.

We will see how this plays out in campaign tonight. However, a full investigation is definitely called for given the timing of the attack.

Symantec says W32.Beagle.A@mm was sent at 4:25 am and had the Bagle is a mass-mailing worm that was found on 18th of January, 2004. The worm sends messages with the subject 'Hi' and random EXE attachment names. It has been programmed to stop spreading on 28th of January. It looks like Norton catches it.

politicsonlinevirus.jpg


Virus Attack On Democratic Campaigns

What we know:

1. A new virus is "discovered on: January 18, 2004" by Symantec. This is the day before the Iowa Caucuses.
2. This virus has only started to affect a few sites. (look at "wild score")
3. This virus of limited distribution blasts out via PoliticsOnline.
4. The virus is a W32.Beagle.A@mm is a mass-mailing worm that will only work until 28th of January. This is the day after the New Hampshire primary.
5. Virus is disruptive in that it overwhelms communities. The virus grabs a local address book and sends emails to a certain number of people within that particular address book.
6. The virus does little relative damage so that it is not a high priority to fix for individual users.

Context.
While this virus may seem like a low grade kiddy nuisance. It is targeted to disrupt computer administrators during a key period of the Democratic primary season. If campaigns had plans to use email as a way to organize GOTV (Get Out the Vote) activities, rapid response to events, deployments of volunteers, rides to the polls, etc. the virus could influence thousands of votes in a dead heat race.

While it is likely that it is a prank by a teenager. There is an outside potential that the virus was released by a campaign that was not dependent on email as a communication tool to gain organizing advantage and disrupt the capacity of an opponents organization.

Network-centric struggle would suggest that knocking out communications capacity and reliability of chain of command of a decentralized leadership would create a huge advantage. It seems to be a little tightly coordinated and professionally executed (insider game targeting PoliticsOnline rather then campaign email lists) for a teen hack.

Lesson:
This could be a serious attack (only next 12 hours will tell) At a minimum it is a good lesson to prepare campaigns to avoid dependency that can create a single point of failure.

(more to come...)


Develop a Strategy to Dominate Web Coverage

This is an interesting study from the Pew Internet & American Life Project that points to research indicating that Internet news is on par with weekly news programs, Sunday talk shows and PBS. While not surprising results, it does raise interesting questions about the investigative powers of Internet content producers. Do they have the capacity to ask the same questions? or get the same access? Do they have the resources to work on a story for an extended period of time?

The fact that people jump on the Internet is not going to produce better informed activist merely the same garbage in via a new format while potentially further weakening the clout of investigative reporters to push hard (not that they do very often).

About one-in-five young people age 18-29 (21%) say they are getting their campaign news from the Internet, putting it within 10 points of newspapers (30%) among this group. There continues to be a gender gap in Internet use for campaign news, with more men (16%) than women (10%) citing it as a key source.

More people also say they are going online for the explicit purpose of getting news or information about the 2004 elections. Overall, 14% of all Americans – 22% of those who go online – turn to the Internet with the goal of informing themselves about the election.

This change also suggests that dominating the web coverage and spin is more valuable then getting on the Sunday morning talk shows because the content is more persistent (sits on the web and can be more easily referenced then the talk show content. )

However, the full report is worth a read. It helps place the local TV and talk shows in the right context. (IMPORTANT) There are some great looks at the role of FOX and local newspapers.

Other Clips:
The 2004 presidential campaign is continuing the long-term shift in how the public gets its election news. Television news remains dominant, but there has been further erosion in the audience for broadcast TV news. The Internet, a relatively minor source for campaign news in 2000, is now on par with such traditional outlets as public television broadcasts, Sunday morning news programs and the weekly news magazines. And young people, by far the hardest to reach segment of the political news audience, are abandoning mainstream sources of election news and increasingly citing alternative outlets, including comedy shows such as the Daily Show and Saturday Night Live, as their source for election news.

Today’s fractionalized media environment has taken the heaviest toll on local news, network TV news and newspapers. Four years ago, nearly half of Americans (48%) said they regularly learned something about the presidential campaign from local TV news, more than any other news category. Local TV still leads, but now 42% say they routinely learn about the campaign from local television news. Declines among nightly network news and newspapers – the other leading outlets in 2000.


The Bully, the Election and Network-Centric Advocacy

Democrats' Financing Plan Challenged (washingtonpost.com)
I wonder who framed this story? Did Rove leak the "Shadow Party" idea? It looks like the GOP is calling some new kids out for a beating.

This story has me a bit depressed by the amazing power that the anti-environment conservative interests have amassed within the last few years. These guys are the school yard bully turning their rage on environment, health care, worker protection, social services and education. They are squeezing the lunch money from the middle class to feed their fat faces and gain even more weight that gives them the advantage in the daily afternoon fights behind school. (In the first half of the 2003-04 cycle, with the parties banned from raising soft money, the Republican advantage has grown to more than 2 to 1, $183 million to $81.6 million. )

Toe-to-Toe, the bully is going to use weight, strength and mass to knock the crap out of you every time. The election cycle is becoming the school yard. The "big fight" that everybody loves to watch. Sure, some progressive Foundations and rich donors keep betting on the little scrappy guy but in a sense they are just making the problem worse. They tell the little guy to step into the ring throwing little PACs, environmental groups, old folks and unions against the religious right, media empires, energy, auto manufacturing, multinational investment banking, pharmaceutical, military industrial complex right wing alliance. The right has defined the time and place of the fight. They are controlling the fight. They pick the time, date, agenda (one party state) and the rules (The legal assault on the 527s has gained momentum from a shift by the Republican Party -- and, probably, the three Republican members of the six-member FEC -- to a policy of aggressive enforcement of campaign finance law. ). In a direct engagement, I increasingly think that they are going to relish the walk onto the school yard bolstered by the crowds looking forward to the fight. They are just as smart as us. They are bigger and stronger. They have half the crowd rooting for them and they are going to kick your ass.

Sure, for the sake of honor each group needs to stand ground and step in to take a beating but if you really want to make sure you are never "called out to the playground" for a fight you need to change the time, place and terms of engagement. You have to sucker punch the bully in bathroom. Kick him in the butt while he takes a drink at the water fountain. You need to make fun of him in front a big group of people. Sure you might get a few retaliatory beatings but if you really whack him in mouth and draw blood at random times during the day he is going to stop calling your name for the after school fight. You will notice the more you whack him during the day the more trouble you both get in. You jump across the table and spill hot chocolate on him you are both going to be dragged into the office. If you trip him every chance you get and knock him down a few steps leaving him stained and bruised he might loose an after school fight with one of your friends and the crowd will start to move increasingly to root for the underdog. Sure, the playground will crown a new champion and the cycle will continue but that will be for next years class to manage.

We are in the throws of our generations fight with the bully. We need to swing the pendulum back toward privacy, workers rights, environmental health, peace, investments in the people who need it most and control and regulation of the multi-national companies. We need to stand up pick new places for engaging our opposition on our terms. We need asymmetric advocacy engagements so that we don't get wiped up around the school yard for an entire generation of politics.

We need to build the tools and campaigns that are fluidly deployed, rapid response and rapid attack. We need to challenge the investment and fighting strategy dominated by an older generation of program officers that are only used to fighting while they had the advantage (most of their grassroots or political experience seems to come between mid 70's and mid 90's). We need to invest in the theory, support structures and logistics of launching new emergent campaigns. We need to do it in a way that is sustainable and builds our community asset base. We need to do it now.


Using IM for Advocacy

A few folks have been thinking about the IM space lately as a channel for advocacy communication and organizing. . I thought the following clip was interesting

Using IM for Marketing
Todd Tweedy is no stranger to the worlds of instant messaging and marketing. Earlier this year, the Washington, D.C.-based owner of The Tweedy Group introduced a new model for marketing via IM called "neighboring." In a nutshell, Tweedy says neighboring will change the context of product and service recommendations by encouraging individuals to express their own views and voice about a product or service to their own private network of personal contacts. This becomes especially important as IM networks create an extra degree of separation between consumers and advertisers.
Unlike most marketing campaigns, neighboring uses dialogs that are initiated, modified, and terminated by individuals within an IM network -- not by a corporation or marketing firm. Neighboring, in contrast, lets advertisers gain access to closed-social networks by using real-time communication tools, such as IM, so that advertisers can communicate product and service recommendations from neighbors to individuals across small groups.

In advocacy we need to foster evolving viral campaigns along the same lines of thinking. We need to encouraging individuals to express their own views and voice about an advocacy issue to their own private network of personal contacts. We need to support those "speakers" that reachout on behalf of our issues and make it easy for them to carry the campaign forward. I especially like the
Unlike most campaigns, these IM style campaign uses dialogs that are initiated, modified, and terminated by individuals within an IM network

I have started to forward around a proposal to some potential funders to launch a IM advocacy campaign.


National Presidential Campaigns' Internet Tools Shopping Lists

Beautiful analysis of 2004 presidential campaign tools conducted by University of Washington and SUNY Institute of Technology. I have been thinking about a similar project for a few weeks.

You have to love student grunt work. I really want to jump into the strategy of the tool use and the background on the squandered opportunities. I am very impressed with the tools Bush team has pulled together.

Spend some time poking around to look at the innovative uses of technology and the ways these campaigns are using the internet to service small active communities and large audiences. It is also interesting to see how much "energy" each site can absorb.

This is a valuable learning tool for nonprofit advocacy groups.

Most campaigns are building a multi-site Web presence by sponsoring different kinds of sites. Click stars in the Campaign Web Sites section of the grid below to see examples of a variety of campaign site types.


PoliticalWebInfo makes into the Great Reads list. Nice work.


CNN is PowerPoint News

Great article from CNN on the limits of PowerPoint and the ways David Byrne is pushing the limits. The article also pulls together some great anti-powerpoint zingers and quotes Tufte from Yale (great site, books and courses) .

The glosses over the limits of knowledge transfer imposed by Powerpoint and only gives lop service to the main ideas. (Irony, CNN is the powerpoint of news junk charts).

CNN.com - Does PowerPoint make us stupid? - Dec. 30, 2003

But after spending several hours designing a mock slide show, Byrne became intrigued. He decided to experiment with PowerPoint as an artistic medium -- and ponder whether it shapes how we talk and think.

In his book and DVD compilation, "Envisioning Emotional Epistemological Information," Byrne twists PowerPoint from a marketing tool into a multimedia canvas, pontificating that the software's charts, graphs, bullet points and arrows have changed communication styles.

"I just got carried away and started making stuff," Byrne said. "It communicates within certain limited parameters really well and very easily. The genius of it is that it was designed for any idiot to use. I learned it in a few hours, and that's the idea."


90% of Kids Use Computers: Adjust your Outreach Strategy

Katrin (Emerging) has grabbed a great study from TechNews on the use of computers by Studies: 90 Percent of Kids Use Computers (TechNews.com) unfortunately, the source link is dead.

According to KatrinPETA, for example does a decent job with their branded IM client, PETA TV, campaign materials (banners, psas, etc) but most (Campaigns) are sad.

We have heard in many of our conversations with youth and focus group participants that many yearn for a public space (even though it was not expressed in those terms) – where issues are debated and different sides and opinions are presented rather than getting inundated with new messages. Youth strongly indicated that they do not want to be ‘preached to or convinced of but come to their own conclusions when given balanced information.”

The time is ripe for smart advocacy groups and campaigns to irregularly prepare campaigns that organize content and designing suitable chat scenarios for injecting advocacy debates into the “chatosphere”, helping chatters dominate a discussion and dive readers that results in actions by other chatters in the “room”. . This technique is already being used with success for commercial interest including “cutting edge” campaigns for the Austin Powers movies and many record promotions.

Chat campaigns are viral. Like most technology projects it was attempted three years ago at really high costs before users were ready. It is now cheaper and has a higher chance for success (Tech news and Katrin's observations) suggesting the time might be ripe to try again.



Capt. McRaven's tips for Network-Centric Operations: Modern Advocacy Tips from the USAF

Military colleges were formed long ago to protect the knowledge that was gained from life and death struggles. Military history and its thinking are valuable repositories of human experience and the strategy and tactics of conflict. No one should pass thru our time here without at least reading the Sun Tzu as a timeless mirror into human nature and struggle.

Today, we should also look to the cutting edge of military wisdom to see what it offers advocacy efforts and campaigns. The hard part is to tease out the lessons learned and to see how such principles can or should be applied to planning network-centric advocacy campaigns in a purely nonviolent political context.

Food for thought... "basic properties of relative superiority are that it is achieved at the pivotal moment in an engagement and that relative superiority must be sustained because it is difficult to regain."

There is something interesting to think about. A small campaign (1 staff) working on bill to protect 1000 acres from development and roads (bigger force) should "stay engaged". The key advantage is knowing when to launch a campaign and how long to remain. When the advantage is "lost" it is better to disengage to return at a future point of the small teams choosing.

McRaven's Tips
special operations into the same three phases as McRaven– planning (simple), preparation (security and repetition), and execution (surprise, speed, and purpose). For each phase (planning, preparation, and execution), I (Captain Greg Gagnon) applied the concept of network-centric warfare to the principles of special operations to form the hybrid of those theories – network-centric special operations."

Campaign planning from LCV, MidWest Academy and now USAF. Political campaigns also consist of planning, preparation and execution. Campaigns ranging from saving the National Parks or banning off shore oil drilling to protecting your favorite wetland run down these same steps.

Planning
Using the network, collaborative planning can speed the process and improve the quality of the product. While the A-team is still responsible for their own operational plan, they can be assigned information gatherers to scour the network for relevant intelligence, operational material, and access to subject matter experts. Furthermore, when a special operations entity is tasked with a mission, it is possible to use the mission support center to pre-gather standard operational material so that with each mission comes an electronic mission folder of relevant information. Innovation was McRaven’s third element of simplicity in planning. The ability to create innovative operational approaches should increase as the number of additional minds are added to the collaborative planning process

Our campaigns can do that. We see what innovation is coming in network-centric campaigns from the Bush in 30 Seconds to the Dean Space suggestions. Moving planning out from the strictly professional staff to our network of supporters will enable us to plan more innovative campaigns. We see innovation from the network in the Bush in 30 Seconds campaign, Dean and Clark campaigns.

Preparation
While we can't maintain security like the military "decree and orders" we can leverage strong social ties and loyalty to keep the campaign information secure. (This is a key payoff of investments in strong social ties) in the military context special operations introduce new security needs that should be addressed during the execution phase of the operation. The shared situational awareness created by sharing the common operating information must be protected, both in and amongst the operators.

Definitely, true in the network-centric campaigns. Which environmental disaster is the network going to respond to this month? Arctic Refuge, a new cancer cluster, floods, forest fires, oil platform, shark attacks. How are the campaigns going to run once launched, what are key talking points, websites and which bills are going to be moved?

How can campaign teams share talent? Can activists that have successfully orchestrated the events be recruited into other campaign teams? Are there debriefings to glean lessons learned? Are the tools, content and people shared from campaign to campaign?

Execution (surprise, speed, and purpose).
The whole point of building and enabling a network-centric advocacy movement is to create campaigns to offset the impacts of organizational drag (branding, governance, destructive competitive forces) while working closely with the organizations to augment their work.

The article is thought provoking and easy to tease out for advocacy context.
Network-Centric Special Operations-Exploring New Operational Paradigms


Flash Campaign Fatigue vs. Addictive Political Empowerment: Annenberg School for Communication picks up on Network-Centric Advocacy

Online Journalism Review, a Web-based journal produced at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California cranks out a nice article on Network-centric advocacy. Unfortunately, they focus to much on the tools and not the underlying shifts in strategy that enable campaigns to exploit the power of the tools.

OJR article: Net Changes Game of Political Advocacy for?Groups on the Right and Left

My favorite Highlights:
"The government is still figuring out how to deal with the enormous upswing in citizen participation," Bucholz said. "Most congressmen now use Web forms instead of e-mail addresses in order to manage constituent mail. But action center vendors spider the forms and fill them out anyway. In other words, the government is coming to the realization that policy or technical 'fixes' to public participation will not work."

The idea of Flash fatigue...
The successful element of flash campaigns -- the threat of immediate danger -- could also prove their undoing, as people tire of getting so many alerts about so many pieces of legislation. Brendan Nyhan, co-editor of the nonpartisan Spinsanity Web site, says that Net alerts only work by creating fervor. "The only way to have an impact is to punch through and really grab people by the lapels and say, 'You've got to do something about this outrage right now!' " he told me. "People get outrage fatigue, and there's only so long you can sustain it. You become the interest group that cried wolf."

Addictive Power
We are coming up on the first generation of voters that regularly use action centers, read candidate blogs and have access to a much broader range of information than they might find on cable," said Bucholz. "My sense is that, right or wrong, they feel that they have more power in the political process. This belief that the government is accountable will, I think, generate some of that accountability."

These threads all deserve a closer look in the days ahead. The real revolution is not at the end user side of the advocacy movement but on the internal plotting and strategy development of the professionals within organizations. Here we have only started to see a tiny fraction of campaigns become network-centric.


Advocacy Lesson : Copy more than the HTML code.

Interesting article documenting a smart strategy by the Clark campaign. Gen Engineering: Clark Seems to Splice From Dean To Mimic Web Personality (washingtonpost.com) Copy what works assume that those that care that you borrowed what works will be outweighed by your success. All campiagns and advocacy effort should be thinking like the Clark team.

The technology is easy to copy. Web sites are built on copying source code and html tricks. The challenge is to understand the undelying strategy and adjust approaches to gain a competitive advantage over those that use the strategy.

From the article:
Close watchers of retired Gen. Wesley K. Clark's Web site have recently noticed several features that appear to have been lifted from earlier efforts by Dean for America.

1. The youth-oriented Web page, "Generation Dean" with a blog, "meet up." turns to "Gen Clark" complete with a blog for students and a "meet up."
2. Dean Web site posted a downloadable flier, which volunteers could use to promote Dean for America gatherings. Beneath a black-banner headline, a Dean logo on the left and a photo of the smiling candidate on the right, the text read: "Come meet with local Dean supporters and learn more about Governor Howard Dean. Over 110,000 Americans have signed up to meet and talk about taking our country back." A month later, a downloadable flier appeared on the Clark Web site, sporting a black-banner headline, a Clark logo on the left and a photo of the smiling candidate on the right. "Come meet with local and national Clark supporters and learn more about General Wesley Clark," the text read. "Tens of thousands of Americans have signed up to help restore America and stand up for American values."

Copying won't stop with Dean and Clark. Whomever wins the Democratic nomination had better be prepared to see the Republicans copy anything that works. I expect a Bushspace, conference calls,distributed campaign tools and every trick that that has been refined in the Primary to be rolled out for the general election.

Our new campaigns had better be ready to copy the best tools that work from any campaign or GOTV effort. In advocacy context the bottom line is success not originality. The next challenge for the campaigns is going to be coordinating network vs. network fights.


Iowa Ground Troops (washingtonpost.com)

Democrats Flood Iowa With Ground Troops (washingtonpost.com)

The Washington Post zeros in on the network-centric strategies of the Dean campaign. In many previous blogs, I have focused on the cross-pollination of wisdom from logistics,(The 7 R's of Advocacy Logistics,) supply chain and network-centric approaches to business (Dell) and warfare (Information and Decision Superiority in an Advocacy Context, Campaign Group "Optimization" in Network-Centric Advocacy Context) to advocacy context. I was blown away to find out that the "heart" of the Dean campaign field operation in Iowa is a Army captain.

Tim Connolly, an ex-Army captain, a veteran of Desert Storm and a former Pentagon official in the Clinton administration, oversees the Dean operation and has put it together with military precision from a windowless, second-floor bunker in downtown Des Moines.

Network-centric approaches that I can see from the article include :

Transferable Hardware and Communications Tools
The Dean field operatives have purchased cell phones and flashlights by the dozen. They have established 13 "fire bases" around the perimeter of the state to process incoming volunteers, rented eight-passenger vans and 15-passenger vans and secured winterized scout camps and YMCA camps in strategic locations to house the volunteers against Iowa's sometimes brutally cold nights. ...OR the "Phone Bank in a Box," which allows the campaign to set up a temporary phone bank in a county rather than lay costly phone lines. "I organized the state much like you'd send out Special Forces A teams," Connolly said.

Network Actors - Fluid Response Teams
Connolly set up "flyaway teams" that can be deployed to fix problems around the state.

Additionally, they have decentralized all the possible work elements that could help and letting lots of volunteers take on tasks that help.
The Dean campaign has even begun to set up day-care facilities for caucus night. Dean supporters volunteering for Iowa duty are asked, among other things, whether they are licensed day-care or health care providers. By offering day care, Dean's team has one more way to persuade a wavering voter to give up a few hours to attend a caucus.

Networking with Traditional Hubs
Network-centric advocacy is a hybrid of organizational based and individual grassroots strategy. The campaign has connected into traditional powerhouses.
Supplementing Dean's operations are the endorsements of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), one of the most politically potent unions in Iowa, as well as the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which is less strong here than in New Hampshire. To Dean's youthful energy, AFSCME brings battle-tested experience in Iowa.

Finally, I am also seeing that the rapid response teams and the flow of resources is going to be directed by better situational awareness. Volunteers are going to be feeding information back to places that can deploy help and field volunteers are going to be using phones and Palm pilots to get critical information in the field.
Larry Scanlon, AFSCME's political director, said the union's effort is several times larger than the one mounted on behalf of Gore four years ago, with almost 150 AFSCME organizers armed with Palm Pilot technology now on the ground. "It's ramped up considerably," he said.

The most interesting will be to see how volunteers outside of Iowa can help. Has the campaign generated the ability of people from across the country to generate content, create call lists and prepare to move the campaign "spin" on the night of the caucus. How fast will these resources be transferred to NH and other primaries. How will the campaign quickly share and debrief other loose volunteers from future day care and van management tips to problems with Palm Pilot walking list.

If done properly, the following primaries are going to be just as intense with less money and in a tighter time frame. Soon, every state is going to feel like Iowa.


IRS Confusion or Cowardice

Gideon Rosenblatt's Blog: Discussion on Nonprofit Lobbying. Gideon points out Jeffrey Berry's Post article on nonprofits' perceived restrictions on lobbying. Berry finds that of the 1700 organizations surveyed there is "widespread misunderstandings that lead organizations to be needlessly overcautious in their lobbying activities".

I wonder what percent is "misunderstanding" vs. fear of opposition attacks, apathy and the influence of conservative political elites on Boards and in the donor pool. Funders want groups to stay out of politics regardless of IRS rules.

It would be great if Little Sisters of the Poor (I was a dish washer in one of their homes for the elderly) would start lobbying. These nuns are great workers that Berry thinks are not lobbying because of "misunderstanding" the H option. Are the nuns afraid of IRS? (Did I mention I was 14 working on heavy industrial cleaning equipment? ) They don't engage in political lobbying because they get government grants. They also need donations from old conservative Catholics that don't want to see the Little Sisters creating wedge issues on supporting the poor and elderly for the school voucher supporting right wing political candidates.

Is it fear of the IRS or fear that powerful opposition industry can turn lawyers and accounting problems to attack little nonprofits? Many of our interviewees told us they believed that the IRS was vigilantly monitoring their political activity. On a number of occasions we heard the story of how the IRS busted the Sierra Club for its lobbying.


The article is useful and important cannon fodder to attack political compliancy among nonprofit organizations. My favorite shots:

The leaders of the nation's nonprofits do many things well, but representing their clients' interests before government is not one of them.

I found them remarkably ill-informed about the primary law that governs their operations.

"We're not allowed to lobby. We're not allowed to influence public policy."

We found that the typical executive director of a 501(c)(3) has little understanding of what the law actually says. Almost half of those surveyed are so ignorant of the law that they don't even believe their organization has the right to take a public stand on federal legislation (perfectly permissible)

Most worrisome is that the office (IRS) will undertake a review based on the complaints of an organization's rivals.

Compounding the problem of an ambiguous law and erratic enforcement is the passivity of nonprofit CEOs. By failing to learn the law, they are willing accomplices.

Good News and Get IT straight: "H election," is crystal clear in specifying the amounts that a nonprofit can expend on lobbying. Based on a sliding scale keyed to annual income, a nonprofit can spend up to as much as 20 percent of its revenues on lobbying. And because the regulations for the H election define lobbying rather narrowly, very little of what a nonprofit H elector does in its advocacy efforts counts as a lobbying expenditure. In short, it's difficult for a typical nonprofit to ever reach the H expenditure ceilings.

Taking the H election could not be easier. Form 5768, which can be downloaded from the tax forms box at www.irs.gov, only asks for an organization's name, address and a signature. It takes no more than 60 seconds to fill out. The IRS has also issued formal guidelines indicating that the H election is not a red flag for an audit and it appears to have kept its word.

Other Sources:
Western States Center (Great List of Links)
LCV- How to LobbyCLPI-The Nonprofit Lobbying Guide, The Second Edition (entire book in one file, 990KB)
OMB Watch - Attacks on Nonprofit Speech


Bush in 30 Seconds : Network-Centric and Decentralized

A beautifully executed network-centric approach to advocacy. MoveOn knows...campaigns need ads to move messages. MoveOn knows that there are lots of smart and passionate folks in the MoveOn network. MoveOn knows lots of folks have the capacity and talent to create ads.

Put out a call for content, let people know how important it is, let folks know how you are going to use the contribution and what your are going to use them for. Soon..you have volunteers cranking out ads that are as better then most on TV.

Bush in 30 Seconds
MoveOn has let go of the control of ad design and assumed that good people would make ads to tell stories that further the MoveOn agenda. thousands of submissions, fifteen ads have made it to the contest’s final round. The winning ad will now be chosen to air on national television by our panel of celebrity judges which includes Michael Moore, Donna Brazille, Jack Black, Janeane Garofalo, Margaret Cho and Gus Van Sant.

Ads by the people, for the people. This should generate some buzz and highlight messages that resonate with a base of potential activists. (I don't know how these will go over in "swing" states but I would imagine they might energize a base.


Form Coalitions with Speed and Agility

Essay by Jon Lebkowsky via Jim Moore

This is a fantastic thread of articles highlighting the way that the network of people who supported Dean congealed, worked together and worked in a way that defeated opposition because of speed and flexibility. If we swap out parties and organizations we can start to envision a new strategy for plotting network-centric advocacy campaigns.

Political parties gave us a centralized approach for sustaining coalitions based on ideology when our communications were limited to snailmail, telephone, and broadcast media. With the Internet we can find affinities and form coalitions with a speed and agility that traditional party structures can't match – or comprehend. The politics of the future is about sustained affinity networks that can form ad hoc coalitions around specific issues, and the leaders of the future will be those who find resonance with that Internet-enabled new reality, as Howard Dean and Joe Trippi have done.

The rant continues to reflect the need to build on the solid base of network-centric theory. Strong social ties, common story, transferable communications and technology, shared support structure and clear motivational triggers.

To win we must find more and more ways to deepen the support that online organizing provides for face-to-face community. Face-to-face meetings generate and feed the intimate daily personal communication networks that help people stand up to the media-driven information assaults that currently define politics as usual. Face-to-face community involves identifying local people who share your values, obtaining social permission to get together and talk politics, sharing information and developing understanding, and taking meaningful personal action to play a part in a larger political whole.

.....activists everywhere will use these and increasingly better tools to form coalitions, and ordinary citizens will expect and demand increasingly sophisticated platforms for participation in Democratic governance.

The key is going to be designing strategies, messages and providing leadership that embraces these new activists rather then frustrates them.


Jon Stahl's Journal: Bush understands the importance of small-scale grassroots media

Jon Stahl's highlights a NY Times Bush understands the importance of small-scale grassroots media

The Bush strategy is smart. It builds the common language, helps the "core" work more cohesively, reinforces a common story and exploits a strong common communications channel. This strategy is about message volume and message saturation.

Key points:
Bush campaign officials can be heard daily on network of conservative-minded local radio shows in politically important states; goal is to prime grass roots faithful for battle next year;

Bush campaign has taken use of radio to reach voters to new level of sophistication, using it far earlier in campaign cycle and appearing regularly on shows with even tiniest of audiences; survey by Talkers magazine, trade publication, found that nationwide, 73 percent of talk radio listeners registered to vote did so in 2000;

The strategy takes time and access. Bush's campaign secretary Terry Holt says he calls in to radio shows nearly every day; notes that talk radio hosts let him address topics he wants to highlight, while hosts of national television programs would try to draw him into dogfight with Democratic candidates

This raises some interesting questions about ways to mess with the talk show network. They like flame and controversy. How do the democrats counter such a strategy? In these channels it is important to flame the network farther right. I would recommend sending a talk radio team to make them consistently hit on issues that are outside the mainstream and right of the administration. We need a strategy that pushes the talk radio network to talk about wedge issues for Republicans...A "it just doesn't matter" campaign. The core base worked hard on campaigns to get GOP elected and take over the federal government. For all the hard work, they get patriot act, government pork, trade agreements that are killing the American worker. Talk radio saturated with "you worked hard to take over government so that pork and government spending would expand, government would pass powers to invade privacy and a trade policy that puts corporations before America. This base will never vote democratic but they may be disappointed enough to stay home on election day.



Powering the Netroots of the Dean Technology

Nothing Magic Here: Jim Moore Director of Internet and Information Services for Dean Spells Out the Dean Technology Tools

Dean Technology List
* MeetUp.com for meeting software
* Six Apart for blog software
* Envision for message boards
* Convio for CMS, fundraising record keeping and FEC compliance.
* We use additional small business-provided software for voter file management, email, and list management.
* We also use software and services from large companies including Yahoo, AOL, and Microsoft. We pay market prices for all software and services.

Anyone can have the tools. (I have a dremel that I used 2 times) It is about the strategy to apply the tools in creative ways and leverage the most value out of the investments made. Dean's advantage does not come from the technology or internet tools but from the network-centric strategy Trippi, Moore and hundreds of active volunteers have crafted.