So the soon-to-be new U.S. president, Barack Obama, is reportedly going to videotape regular addresses to the American people and upload them to YouTube, as well as to his new Change.gov social-media portal. All I could think of when I saw the headline from the Washington Post is “What the heck took so long?” It’s not like YouTube just appeared yesterday. It’s become a primary video source for millions of people, particularly young people — and heck, even the Queen has a royal channel with videos that people can watch about the British royal family. And she’s not the only Queen on YouTube (I’m not counting Chris Crocker). Queen Rania of Jordan also has a channel, and she uploads inspirational video messages, including the one I’ve embedded here (she’s also extremely beautiful, which I think is a big plus for a queen). It says a lot about George Bush and his presidency that he couldn’t be bothered to even use a free commuications tool.
At some point during a long night of Twitter responses to the U.S. election, Ze Frank posted a simple message saying that he was looking for people to post where and what they were doing when Obama was elected president. “Gimme snippets of your night,” he said. And about 130 people did just that, some of them just a few sentences, some of them long messages of 800 words or more. Here’s a few samples:
— “I was the girl who ran up and hugged you under the gigantic American flag. One of the most surreal moments of my life. Thank you.”
No matter which side of the political fence you’re on, there’s no question that the Obama campaign has been light-years ahead of the competition when it comes to taking advantage of social-media tools, whether that means blogs or YouTube or Twitter or pretty much anything that comes along. Now it’s the iPhone: users of the Apple device can download a free app through the App Store that turns their phone into an Obama campaign office, including sorting friends into the states they live in, to make it easier to call people and get out the vote when election day comes around.
This is a slick little app, even if it could have used some other features, as TechPresident notes (more GPS integration would have been cool, for example). At the same time, however, it’s even more impressive that this app was put together not by a company hired by the Obama campaign, but by a handful of passionate supporters who put their own time and resources into doing it. The campaign was then smart enough to recognize it as being a great opportunity, and gave it the official blessing. Smart.
Traditional media can still generate some political heat, it seems, at least when it’s aided and abetted by the lightning-fast response time of the political blogosphere. The latest issue of the New Yorker magazine only hit newsstands this morning, but the cover image has already stirred up a firestorm of protest and indignation on the Internet, after it was circulated on various blogs and political websites yesterday. The drawing (by Barry Blitt) shows Barack Obama and his wife Michelle in the Oval Office doing a celebratory “fist bump.” Barack is dressed as a Muslim, while Michelle has an Afro and is carrying a sub-machine gun. There is a painting of Osama Bin Laden on the wall and an American flag burning in the fireplace.
The cover title is The Politics of Fear (although the title doesn’t appear on the actual cover of the magazine). New Yorker publisher David Remnick said in an interview with the Huffington Post’s Rachel Sklar that the cover was meant to be a satire of all the Republican fear-mongering about the Democratic presidential candidate, but plenty of Obama supporters didn’t see the humour. Within hours of an article about the cover being posted at the HuffPo, there were more than 800 comments from outraged readers. By this morning, there were more than 3,000 comments. On the Daily Kos blog, one of the leading left-wing blogs run by Markos “Kos” Moulitsas, a post about the cover had over 2,000 comments by this morning, many of them taking issue with what they saw as a conservative attack on Obama and his campaign. On the Politico story about the cover, there were 1,827 comments.
When asked on Sunday via email whether in retrospect he regretted doing the drawing given the outcry, the artist replied: “Retrospect? Outcry? The magazine just came out ten minutes ago. At least give me a few days to decide whether to regret it or not.” You’d better hurry up, Barry — the political blogosphere waits for no man.
It may not have achieved the 17.8 million views that Chris Crocker’s classic “Leave Britney Alone” video has — or even the 7 million views that the startled prairie dog known as “Dramatic Chipmunk” has gotten — but then, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s speech on racism has only been up on YouTube for less than 24 hours (as of mid-day Wednesday), and it already has over 1.2 million views.
That’s not bad. Another month or so and maybe it could get into the same territory as “The Evolution of Dance,” which has a mind-boggling 78 million views. Of course, Obama’s speech has an actual message that is somewhat deeper than the average YouTube video — hard to tell whether that will help or hinder its advance up the charts.