Social Networks

Video to Vote mainstream media can't be at every polling place, but the American people can. A lot of people who'd never done anything as activists. Our one piece of marketing was a Youtube video, to create this community to look out for problems on Election Day. There were 800 numbers to report problems, and as we saw patterns, we'd send a videographer. They'd interview voters, talk to the poll workers about problems with the machine, and upload to Youtube. Youtube is a database of videos. You don't have a packaged stream that makes sense. It's not very consumable. The goal of Video to Vote was to have something that was very consumable, to force mainstream media to cover not just the race but the problems. In the past, they come out weeks or months later. We felt mainstream media would tell the story if it was easy and cheap.

We would produce video essays with a narrative, a trusted brand, decent writing. It was very consumable. And mainstream media couldn't do it.

There's another video project called CopWatch. Everybody knows a story about police brutality. It's hard to get a feeling for what's happened when it's in print. You never have a mainstream media news camera, but now you have cell phones.

Lessons: just as you have self-identified activists, everybody tells stories, and a way to share things is through some form of rich media, or online communities.

Citizen journalists, with a little bit of infrastructure, w ill do a better job of providing targeted, relevant experiences than mainstream media.

The conference has looked at how corporate media hasn't told certain stories. I actually think corporate media will have a hard time competing

(James, ColorLines)

With cameras and video on cellphones, we're actually pretty far behind Europe and Asia. A lot of this is happening ore outside the US. We're six months or a year behind.

Video the Vote got on all the national shows, but it was about six-eight weeks. But good tracking fell by the wayside. We had a special part of the website for mainstream media to grab video. A few hundred videos got pulled [but we don't know who aired what]. speaker, Dina

We focus on people who are building up a regular audience, like Richard of the Richard Show. And Maureen is no longer "Richard's Wife" but "Dr. Maureen," and each week she does a video on alternative healing.

  • Anyone who finds a story that should have been on TV, with a camcorder, cell, or digital camera, can be a reporter.
  • Example: Alive in Baghdad, a Boston kid flew to Amman and hitched to Baghdad with a cheap camcorder, crappy laptop, and a dialup modem, and he got footage of the Firdos Square bombing that one of the networks got. And he set up a team of local stringers who continue to report on the war. (One recently kidnapped, another killed) We syndicate his videos to AOL videos, iTunes, and he has a MySpace page. He's on dozens and dozens of sites. He just won an award for best video blog of the year. He is self-sustaining and just set up Alive in Mexico. He has no funding, bootstrapping, because he wasn't happy with war coverage.
  • Video lobbying: shoot the crappy falling apart textbooks, the bad food.
  • Turn on comments so people can comment and rate them. You create a community around your cause. Invite others to video and link these blogs. Ask questions on video of the school board.
  • Use the social networking tools, put pressure on the decision makers.
  • Politics: candidates are video blogging, from president on down (John Edwards, Tom Vilsack). He can now get content out to voters, unfiltered. It's the first time politicians can communicate on their own terms without having to buy a 30-second ad. For the first time, you can see behind the scenes of a campaign, hear them talk about the important issues of the day, the personal side of a campaign. And two-way communication; you can ask candidates questions on video. Video blogging will change politics. The most real, down-to-earth politicians will benefit. You can create a TV ad for a candidate you like. Encourage the official campaign to use your ad.

The power is in our hands and in our camcorders.

We built 100% to support the best content. You retain 100% of the rights to your video, and we support a whole variety of Creative Commons licensing. We in no way want to take over the rights.

Avoiding the problems that have beset mainstream media broadcasting

Cost is so small you can have hundreds of thousands of shows. And there's no set programmer who's deciding what should and shouldn't air, and what should be popular. This is the first entertainment marketplace where instead of a boss, you have people deciding.

Joan McCarver, "traditional" blogger, Daily Kos.

I applied for a new passport and she asked me what kind of writer I am. When I said 'professional blogger,' she looked at me like I was part of a new species. We have changed phenomenally. Even in defeat, we extended and expanded and shaped the debate, most dramatically in the Connecticut Senate race. Lamont's primary victory made Iraq the central issue of the 2006 election.

A real success: Jim Webb campaign in VA. Youtube was a huge part, the Allen attack on a Webb campaign worker. We put it so front and center that it forced it onto the mainstream media. I think it was the deciding factor in Webb's victory. Montana, we helped to keep Tester as one of the key candidates.

Blogging can be leveraged: bloggers from Daily Kos were hitting the streets, knocking on doors. NYC folks would get together and go up to Connecticut to canvas. We had people writing letters to bloggers, commenting on candidate blogs. And some of our people become candidates, as high as New York State Senate, which we narrowly lost. And these people were able to bring the issues that matter most to them to the public.

Bloggers provide education on organic agriculture, volunteer opportunities. Energize America is a working group on energy policy. Without having met face to face, they had a 20-point plan that they took to our yearly Kos convention, and took it to Governor Bill Richardson (D-NM), who has endorsed it.

The CDC staff working on bird flu visit a Kosack's [Daily Kos blogger] flu wiki every day, they say, 'you're the people who give us our information.'

Gonzales confirmation. The blogs really helped raise the voice on torture. We created thousands of political activists and solidified opposition among Democrats. Again, those issues were then raised in the traditional media.

In the last year, we've been focused on Net Neutrality [the concept that service providers have an obligation to provide the same access to any content, whether or not they originate it]. We made it a make-or-break component of Ted Stevens' bill. We did not lose ground on that and we're a bit ahead of the game.

Will self-organize into social networks. We have a group that reads every single Daily Kos diary and posts the best ones. And then people who show up every night to watch the Daily Show and Colbert, and these social networks feed larger activist threads.

It's truly a bubbling up. None of this was initiated by site administration. The people are hungry for meaningful social networking around shared core beliefs. The result is almost inseparable from the political organizing. They organize Drinking Liberally, or they go to a MoveOn film screening together. Last year, they had a huge convention that shaped the Democrats' organizing. This year's, we expect a lot of presidential candidates. It's exciting to see how we as regular people got them to come to us. This is how we can create a new generation of political activists. The most powerful social change groups will always have a social networking aspect. People who were part of the civil rights movement still talk, 40 years later, about the bonds formed between members, and it was also one of the most relentless forces for social change.

What's most amazing about the Net's political activism is that it draws in those who couldn't have otherwise participated. They live [in a] remote [area], they're disabled. It brings some chaos, but a larger part motivation, activism.

Questios: MySpace is the most robust and effective, but posts are being censored. Also profiles from radical activists.

Dina: When you start your video blog, post something o the very active yahoogroup for video bloggers. Do the same thing on GoogleGroups. Start a MySpace page and crosspost the videos. And the lists on the subject of your blog. Put tags on your video with the subject, with your name—and when people search, your video will pop up.

If you comment on 50 people's video blogs [with signature and link], 25 will comment on yours. You start a community that way around your video.

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