It is nice to see the ways that Obama and McCain are wrestling with the new network collaborative power fueled with modern tech. This is a good peek into what happens in a campaign that focuses on pushing power to the edge vs. the campaign that tries to pull resources to the center.
The most interesting element that will playout in 2009 will be what happens with all these new workers and volunteers from both parties.
They will come to issue advocacy with new expectations on self-control and the power that they should have to organize and influence the local face of the campaign. They have "tasted" the new flavor of engagement and they are not likely to be interested in going back to being direct mailed at....
If they are not plugged in effectively to the next set of issue campaigns they will:
a. revolutionize old traditional groups.
b. simply start their own groups
The choice of how they act and how organized issue groups react to this new blood is going to be up to us. But change is coming.
The Obama campaign has a CTO, Michael Slaby, and a web team that includes Dean-campaign veteran Joe Rospars as New Media Director and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, who helps coordinate online organizing. But the system works like a pyramid, with state officials given access to a lot of functionality, and growing numbers of people below them, down to the volunteer level, allowed fewer and fewer functions, depending on what they need and how well they are known or trusted. The Obama system learns as it goes along, allowing volunteers to feed information gleaned from their work back into the database via their web browsers. Campaign staffers at the local, state, and national levels can see which volunteers do the most work and get the best results, making the organization more efficient over time. Nationwide, MyBarackObama.com has more than 1 million individual user accounts and has been used to promote over 75,000 campaign events.
In Rockingham County, Adamson's group began by recruiting additional volunteers by phone, using lists available through the Obama and North Carolina Democratic Party websites. Working from their own homes, making local calls on their own phones via information pulled from the virtual phone bank, and entering data back into the system, they built a team to canvass the five precincts each divided into smaller areas called "turfs," with about 500 voters apiece, assigned by the campaign. More volunteers were signing up as this article was being reported in mid-September; Adamson, the leader, has not met them all in person.
The first big job Adamson's team undertook was voter registration. The system generated "turf packets" that each team member could pull from the website, which included maps and the locations of houses with unregistered voters. The team doesn't waste time knocking on every door, but goes instead to targeted homes identified by the campaign's database.
Here is an example: New School...