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Forget MySpace, MyBO is the Social Network of the Future

New America Media, News Report, Jun Wang Posted: Nov 28, 2008

Editors Note: Barack Obamas presidential campaign utilized social networking technology in an unprecedented way, which might have been the key to his victory. Jun Wang is an editor for New America Media.

WASHINGTON D.C. Social media websites like YouTube and Facebook helped Barack Obama attain his presidency and will play an essential role to keep his administration closely connected to the public, said Obama campaign strategist Judith Freeman at the New Media, New Organizing and the Obama 2008 Campaign event held a few weeks after the presidential election at the New Media Institute (NMI).

YouTube didnt exist four years ago, Freeman said. But in the 2008 presidential election, the Obama campaign created and uploaded 1,800 videos onto YouTube.

The videos run from the president-elects political statements to how he met and started to date his wife who was his supervisor in a law firm that he worked at soon after law school.

Statistics show that 77 percent of adult Americans regularly go online, while a decade ago the rate was only nine percent. In 2008, 36 percent of people living in the United States regularly learned about the election from Internet, which is twice as much as in 2004.

Freeman, who worked on the Kerry campaigns Internet operations in 2004, said the Obama campaign created a huge email list, which was three or four fold of Kerrys.

They successfully organized tens of thousands volunteers to knock on doors, make calls and hold events to support the Democratic presidential candidate. Freeman said their strategy is to give people online tools and empower them to do own organizing.

Obamas official campaign site, known as MyBO, has served as an online community with over a million members. On the homepage, it says Get access to the tools you need to effectively organize for Barack Obama and build this movement for change, both during and after the campaign.

People from various backgrounds can find their home on MyBO. The virtual communities include Americans with disabilities, Arab Americans, Jewish Americans, LGBT, people of faith, seniors, kids, students, veterans and military families, women and many more even Republicans. In the Latinos for Obama group, tools are provided to help members connect with other Latinos through Facebook and MySpace.

Meanwhile, MyBO is also a platform for all kinds of traditional ways to campaign; there people launched programs like Latinos to call Latinos in Nevada.

Freeman said Obamas run for presidency brought an absolute revolution to the top down campaign format, in which information flows from major media like the Washington Post, CNN, the New York Times and ABC News to the audience, without much of the readers, listeners and viewers voice being directly heard.

The Obama way is peer to peer or many to many where everybody connects with each other by online media, emails and blogs. Freeman said it only uses basic, good management to turn the political campaign into a massive social movement.

A YouTube video DNC 2008: Open Platform shows that earlier this year the Democratic National Committee opened its platform meeting to the public. In nine days, some 16,000 platform meetings were held in all 50 states with more than 22,000 individuals voicing their cares and concerns out.

In response to the emerging power of social media, which has not only transformed the presidential campaign but also the entire U.S. society, NMI an annual training program for journalists and filmmakers from a diverse backgrounds sponsored by the National Black Programming Consortium (NBPC) made social media the focus of its 2008 program.

Over 20 trainees ranging from young graduates to grandmas got paired up in small groups with NBPCs media partners including PBS NewsHour, Frontline and WBBH-TVs Basic Black. Their team projects cover locative, interactive user-generated and mobile media.

Freeman said that the Obama team is determined to keep social media an important part of the way they communicate moving forward in order to keep the public devotedly connected to its government.

Related Articles:

Upload Real Challenge: What Activists Can Learn from Obamas Web Politics

How to 'Rock the Youth Vote' (And You Can't Just Use Facebook)

Privacy and Decency of Social Networking

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