Impressions on the Social Age

Generational Differences

Posted in Reading Response by Trace on June 12, 2010

Recently, I read Millennial Makeover by Winograd and Hais. The book describes how politics differs with today’s younger generation, the Millennials. Millennials are positive and are likely to think they are unique and special (just like everyone else). They are likely to think they will not do as well as their parents, but are confident things will be okay. Millennials were born from 1982-2003. This generation is more liberal than conservative, supportive of gay rights (but not necessarily marriage) and are more sexually liberated than their parents – tho cognizant of the dangers. Reading the above you are probably thinking one of a few things.

  1. “Wow, that sounds just like me!”
  2. “Hey, that’s not like me at all…”
  3. “Sheesh, those generalizations sure are serious.”

I’m going to focus on the third, as that is the most relevant to my thoughts here. Reading this book, my thoughts are immediately conflicted. Firstly, I think of many of these as descriptions of my own character. After all, my mother told me I was special often, and I am confident everything will be okay, even if I know I will never get social security… However, the idea that we can be grouped into 20 year groups of similarity was distressing.

There are many differences to our upbringing over the others, and I’ve never been more conscious of this since starting internships and job hunting. Many months back, when I started my Masters program, classmates, professors and colleagues would ask me the seminal question, “What do you want to DO?”

This was my least favorite question. Ever. I was always confused. The job market isn’t a prix fixe, it’s a buffet. As far as I am concerned, the better question has always been, “What don’t you want to do?”

For example, if people ask you your favorite food when you’ve only had one meal how could you give a proper answer? If one thing is holding us together as a generation, aside from the girl power and gay pride, its the guarantee that we will all have multiple careers. Gone are the days when an employee starts at the bottom and works up to CEO. Instead, we millennials will find careers that fit as we grow. When we’ve filled the box we’re in, we’ll move to a new box and begin to fill again.

My point? Lets define our generation with positivity and acceptance, but also recognize that we NEED our positivity. We need to believe that our careers do not define us, but through our career we can create definitions that keep us happy, learning, and excited.

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OFA progress goes, “Oof!”

Posted in Reading Response by Trace on June 11, 2010

Since electing the most wired President in history – and I’m not talking about the coffee & nicotine –Obama for America Campaign has become Organizing for America (OFA) and subsequently lost its mojo. After Obama’s victory lap and OFA’s absorbtion into the DNC fundraising machine; it became just another mindless direct-mail system. Asking us to spend small amounts of money and sending us email after email after email after email after email. Which is why we all left MoveOn.org in the first place.

The DNC took the OFA and transformed them into the Borg. For those of you that missed the cultural staple that is Star Trek the Next Generation (STNG): the Borg were not a Swedish rock band, but a race of beings that valued the collective over the individual. The Borg assimilated humans & aliens alike, implanting strange lasers, giant metal chest pieces and leg augmentations that looked painful and generally impeded their forward motion. The Borg were the symbol of synergy and collectivism to the point of degradation of any excitement and emotion. Your MBA professor would be thrilled. These part-man part-machine beings were emotionless, grey and did what was best for the collective, often sacrificing their own humanity (alienity?) to serve the hive-mind.

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The Hint Caravan

Posted in Reading Response by Trace on June 7, 2010

Understanding the Internet is more than reading a book or playing Farmville. This, the five guys that wrote the Cluetrain Manifesto understand. While they admit they don’t understand the true purpose of the web – “telephones are for talking to people… what’s the web for.”

This ten-year anniversary addition almost doubles the original book published in 2000. IT contains new information discovered since the before our Web 2.0 generation. Back in 2000, before the popularity of the social web, before Facebook, MySpace or Twitter had taken over the bandwidth this book said something outrageous. “Markets are conversations.”

This simple idea was a revolution in 2000, and the Internet was the best driving force behind these conversations. Today, we take this idea for granted. The idea that outside of a barbershop or store aisle we the consumers can have a true conversation regarding the products or policies of our favorite providers.

Unlike some of my other posts, today I felt this book is too important to pick apart. It’s an Eastern philosophy of the internet. The authors looked at the Internet how an Amish person might design an Internet scheme. I read earlier this month how the Web increases our hand-eye coordination but decreases our critical thinking. This book is fantastic for those who have never thought critically about webspace. For those of us that who have, it becomes more of a How-to-explain book. It’s more of a crash course of more of an eastern school web.

Just Another Obama Campaign Commentary

Posted in Reading Response, Social Networking Discovery by Trace on June 2, 2010

In the 2008 election, Obama and the media had no love lost between them (practically speaking) in comparison to his opposition (both during the primary and the general elections). This was in part supported by Obama’s media-buy being twice as much as others. (Source: Edelman Digital, January 2009)

During the 2008 Obama’s internet communications strategy aimed at concrete, focused and measurable goals, this is something all communications campaigns must do. Measurement to ensures reproduction.

“Even with the relatively vast resources at hand, Obama’s internet communications staff built carefully, innovated only as needed, and invested in projects that seemed to have a real chance of paying off in time to win.” says Delany in Learning from Obama on ePolitics101.

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We’ve Got Your Number: Mobile Campaign Strategy

Posted in Reading Response by Trace on May 26, 2010

These days, everyone has a shortcode and some type of bandwagon-style promotion, (Text PORK to 234O2 and get a free HAM!) But the question isn’t availability, it’s viability. Why should your company or your campaign go through the trouble of a mobile campaign? The short answer, because there are 4.6 billion mobile phones worldwide which means a potential for 4.6 billion impressions, donations or contacts.

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Bai Bai Birdie

Posted in Reading Response by Trace on May 24, 2010

Reading The Argument by Matt Bai this week reminded me of reading another verbose publication. Then I realized Bai worked for the other, the New York Times. I enjoyed Bai’s book, it was an interesting topic and is a relevant book for those interested in working with politics. It’s important (and fun) to learn the behind-the-scenes of a political sphere, but when looking at the old democrats we can always find lots of interesting characters. Speaking of characters, I enjoyed how Bai often used literary designs usually relegated to the fictional writer to describe non-fiction characters; some of whom are still quite prominent in media and politics.

Bai’s book was far from an eye opener, and closer to a narrative, but the book itself described many considerations sometimes readily apparent to the casual political observer. For example, people are more important that constituency. When asked who influences politicians, its not just the people of the district, state or country who elected the officials, but often other officials, lobbyists, friends and colleagues.

This comes as no surprise to many of us, but the reasoning behind it (while not surprising) is not often put forth. Insecurity. Doubt. Confusion. Not to say politicians are stupid, but they are people. In our society of strong media personalities, public relations, media relations and highly sensationalized and celebritized figures, it’s strange to think that famous Americans are just another odd kid in a suit.

My favorite part of the book was the exposure of these celebrity leaders as not just politicians with talking points, but people who can be influenced by direct and purposeful information. People who can be spoken to like any other, befriended like any other, and argued with like any other.

As I like to tell my friends, “Even Obama has sit on the toilet to take a poop.”

Facebook & Twitter Activism

Posted in Reading Response by Trace on May 19, 2010

Activism is an interesting monster. I once dated a girl who joined protest lines because she thought herself an activist. She believed in the protester’s message, but was also looking to join in! Does joining up as you’re walking make you an activist or something else?

Today we read about the activism using Facebook, Twitter and messaging for a specific group on USENET. From the readings (Facebook here and Twitter here) we discovered that activism using social networks is complex, but can e successful if done properly. The lessons focus on activism using social networking, specifically those launched via a social network.

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Here Comes Shirky & Friends

Posted in Reading Response by Trace on May 17, 2010

My friend Becca recently moved to Australia to study. Before she left I asked a question that may have been ludicrous ten years ago, but no longer, “What is your blog?” What young-person moves to a new place without keeping a blog of their adventures? Becca updates her blog occasionally with short stories and insight about her experiences down under, but there was a catch. Becca asked me never to share her blog address, even with other co-workers. Becca was limiting her audience to only those she was interested in reaching – i.e. she filtered. Using one of Shirky’s points, Becca is doing exactly what he said, writing for her friends, but posting in public view.

The fascinating thing is, Becca doesn’t think of her blog as a public space. The question is, why? She grew up during not just the Internet age, but the Google age, where everything is searchable, and even posted her blog on Google’s Blogger platform, instantly searchable via Google. Perhaps there is a deeper meaning here. Becca is using the same principle a spy in the movies would use… Speak freely in crowds. Perhaps Becca feels private, because there is so much else going around the Internet, who cares about one girl studying in Australia? She’s lost in the murmur of the collective. Then again, perhaps she just doesn’t care.

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So, You Want to be a Successful Campaign?

Posted in Reading Response by Trace on May 12, 2010

Engaging the public in an Internet age is not necessarily more difficult than engaging the public previously. If anything according to Rosenblatt, Delany and Rigby, it would seem to be easier to reach, offer influence and recruit individuals. The problem is not access, but organization and strategy.

The days of driving the megaphone through the center of town are not gone, but the megaphone has evolved into a series of electronic pages. Instead of driving it through town you create the data on a server and shout your message into people’s email inboxes and social networks. Additionally, the campaign cannot use the hypodermic needle theory, they need to engage and respect their audience (who are often NOT the general public, but subsets of that public known as publics). In the age of engaged publics who can communicate and search for your campaign, you need to respect and value their input from the ground level. If you don’t care, then why are you even soliciting it?

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