Check this out. Obama has published a video of the transition team talking about climate issues. Wish there was a full version of the session up - not just highlights - but this sort of CSPAN-like preso on the presidential level is unprecedented.
These are a little late in coming, but here they are - notes from the session that I facilitated on mobile phone application development at the M4Change conference in San Francisco on Nov 4, 2008 (organized by Katrin Verclas from MobileActive.org). We had a strong contingent of developers there - some who had recently built mobile apps for some of the leading companies in the valley. So, lot's of good information was shared.
Prime takeaway: Due to various factors, the best foot forward right now is to develop an app for the iPhone, but to rely heavily on the platform's Web-integration tools so that you can be ready for a quick transition to other platforms when those platforms become viable.
So, ok, what are these various factors?
#1: Distribution & montetization
Even though many other phones are in the hands of many more people, when it comes to mobile apps, the iPhone is #1. People use their apps more on the iPhone, consumer more data, and download more apps.
#2: Controlled Platform.
Love it or hate it, the iPhone platform and system is dependable. gPhone is not really a gPhone. It's a gOS bundled with tMobile - and without Jobs the dictator, things do fall apart. For example, I followed a link on Google's site to purchase the gPhone a few weeks ago and I got to an area of tMobile's site where they had me login, which i did, and then they told me that the gPhone was not available for me to purchase. Just one example of how when the Dictator is not in charge, the process isn't as smooth. Developers in the group said that they had had similar experiences.
Other stuff we talked about:
* It would be cool to have a Yahoo Pipes for mobile apps. [The Extraordinaries project that we're working on comes close, actually]. Yahoo's Blueprint and Tarpipe.com were mentioned.
* We mentioned TacticalTech's Mobiles in a box. It's a lot of great info about running mobile apps and campaigns.
* The problem with developing just a mobile web site is that you don't get access to any of the nifty phone APIs
* We talked about developing countries - saying that there really wasn't anything significant you could do with mobile apps quite yet.
* Someone mentioned that in Japan people use their apps primarily to consume - while in the US, people use their apps more as utilities, for doing.
* Someone noted that iPhone penetration among lower income brackets in the US is increasing.
This administration is going to be transformational. First, they're telling us what's up - directly - with the formation of the staff. Second, they're asking for our ideas and stories. Third, they're taking job applications (I put in my name). Fourth, they have a blog. This is doing it right, and fast.
Hey, the first article about The Extraordinaries just came out in the San Leandro Times by reporter Michael Singer! Singer interviewed Jacob Colker and I at the Craigslist Boot Camp where we gave a talk about Web 2.0.
Does this historic election imply the end of broadcast politics? I keep asking myself this question - wondering if we're seeing an ephemeral or long-term trend. Certainly, future political campaigns will attempt to mimic Obama's tactics - which may mean that the age of speaking at voters (exclusively) is coming to a not-too-soon close. In my book, I transcribed a great speech by Seth Godin, where he talks about how people are never going to listen if you scream at them... well, this method has worked for the last several decades, but not for much longer b/c people expect to engage in conversation more. They expect to invite advertisers and politicians in, rather than listen to marketing messages.
Of course, I can't help but think about McLuhans famous adage that the medium is the message. Have we just witnessed an era of politics transformed by the Television? Prior to the age of the TV (and commercial radio), it seems that politicking was much more about engaging the citizenry in conversations (need to do more research to back up this assumption). And then along came commercial radio and TV and we got used to being talked at. And so politics took the same approach. We got our politics served to us in sound bytes over the tubes. Not surprisingly, a lot of people tuned out. Politics just wasn't as interesting as the rest of the media fare.
And now, the Internet has lassoed us back into conversing with eachother - into participating in addition to consuming. And lo, one really smart charismatic guy and a hellova lot of really smart staff figured out how to re-engage the populace who's interest had been waning... by actually talking with them - and, more important, getting them talking to eachother.
What do you think? Are we done with broadcast politics?
Wow, this is an interesting move. Very smart. Combine Facebook's enormous tangle of users with Salesforce's app development platform and you have a great recipe for a gazillion business apps that solve some key painpoints - namely, integration into the daily routine of people and a familiar UI. This should get interesting.
Tech-wise, the Election is worlds apart from just two years ago. In 2006, I was consulting with a handful of organizations all trying to set up text message based Election monitoring systems. Organized by a centralized nonprofit organization, these programs aimed to put reporting tools into the hands of voters and volunteer poll watchers alike. None of these efforts got off the ground.
Now, two years later, none of this infrastructure needs to be built and it doesn't need anything more than a guiding hand to make it happen. The tools are more mature and well known: Twitter, YouTube, etc. Now, it's just a question of marketing... letting people know that they can use these tools in a particular way that strengthens the integrity of the voting system.
My sense is that none of
these efforts will pull through in a major way for this election. The marketing effort doesn't have enough reach. But that they will set the stage for substantive efforts next time around.
Note that one of the ideas Jacob had for The Extraordinaries is to enable citizens to record audio/video as one of the short-term volunteer tasks that we'll offer through the mobile phone app. Thanks to all of these great projects for going through the fires first!
This is a really fine collection of information about how to use and how organizations are using mobile phones for advocacy. It's
very well organized and well designed to boot. It's going to be
difficult to keep this site updated and current, but as of it's release
today, it's a wonderful resource. Here's a description from the source:
Toolkit is a collection of tools, tactics, how-to guides and case
studies designed to inspire advocacy organisations and present
possibilities for the use of mobile telephony in their work. From
choosing an audience, to privacy and security issues and also
countering technological challenges, “Mobiles in-a-box”
provides effective solutions to enable non-profits to get started using
mobiles in their advocacy efforts.