EXCLUSIVE: Tropicana Covers Election Day Twittering

There are a couple of election related Twitter projects going on including Twitter Vote Report, which we covered the other day.

Not on our radar at the time, however, was an interesting project from Tropicana that will take the expected high velocity Twitter coverage of the election all day and present it in a unique way. The experiment seeks to monitor hot buzz word frequencies and graph them in relation to one of the candidates in a series of “half rings”. The rings grow as the phrases and words are used in association with one of the candidates.

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The hot words being planned are fixed at the moment, but will be added to as hot topics emerge throughout the day. Current words on the radar are Iraq, terrorism, freedom, economy and poll.

Twitter is expecting a record setting volume for Election Day with Twitter co-founder Biz Stone sending out an email to users today stating:

We anticipate record-breaking activity on Twitter all day tomorrow. We’ll be staying late at work watching Current TV’s Twitter-powered election night programming.

The Tropicana technical project lead is New Media Strategies and while we do not have a URL for the project yet (we were only given screenshots), this post will be updated when that information becomes available.

You can, of course, follow me on Twitter during the election or any other time at @technosailor.

Update: The URL for the project is anorangeamerica.com.

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Relevant Conservatism in the Internet Era

As a conservative who is also supporting Barack Obama (Yes We Can) this fall, I’m fascinated watching the efforts both campaigns are making to reach out to an internet savvy Generation Y. With mixed results, mind you.

John McCain has been flogged for his gaffes surrounding the internet. Phrases likes, “I’m aware of the internet” are not gaining any points in the arena of internet geek public opinion. It is clear that Barack Obama is winning this critical demographic of 18-35 year olds with a grass roots campaign that encourages small several dollar donations from average web users and that the McCain campaign is desperate to appear relevant in their online outreach efforts.

However, it is not just McCain’s campaign. The Republican National Committee is going to its own great lengths to produce the appearance of relevancy in a hostile internet environment that is largely committed to the Democratic base.

Such was the effort of the RNC’s latest viral marketing campaign directed toward the Facebook generation. BarackBook is a spoof on the popular Facebook site and includes videos, a “MyFriends” section highlighting several “friends” of Obama involved in organized crime, political corruption and the often antagonized capitalistic market. The “news feed” uses typical Facebook prose to highlight these friends activities, “Barack Obama and Antoin “Tony” Rezko are now friends with Allison Davis“.

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The problem is as it always is. This marketing attempt is leveraged toward a demographic that does not believe what the Republicans have to say. They’ve feel like they have been lied to for at least 8 years and maybe 15 if you go back to 1994 when the Republicans took over Congress.

Obama’s appeal comes from a desire for change. Techies are already disillusioned by the current administration. By throwing in real and relevant issues to the technology community, such as Ted Stevens “false statements” charges, the cost of energy, the inability to secure H1B Visas for foreign engineers (many who are more brilliant than American engineers), the high cost of energy needed to power massive server farms that keep us online, a “too-little, too-late” government involvement in the mortgage scandal that is forcing people out of work and creating a shortage of job opportunities in the tech space as well as the weak dollar that makes it difficult for American internet companies to do international internet business has created an environment where the internet technology world is hostile toward GOP, laissez-faire, status quo policies.

Republican efforts to appeal to a technology audience are encouraged, but should not be expected to change sentiment overnight. A return to traditional conservative roots where opportunities are provided for the willing and able, government removing themselves as much as possible from the lives of the citizens, and barriers to technology innovation lowered (tax incentives for innovation) would play well over time with the technology crowd. Participation in the internet space on blogs (with comments enabled and dialogue in play) on social networks like Facebook (not just hands off Facebook groups) would go a long way.

I’m not a Republican. I left the Republican party several years ago as it became clear the party left me. I am a conservative and see a real need for real change. I mean, throw out everything we know and rebuild kind of change. The kind of change that keeps conservatism relevant in 2008 and going into the next decade.

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High Risk, High Yield in Politics

This morning, I was a guest on the Media Bullseye podcast. I’ll link it when it becomes available. One of the topics of discussion revolved around the tactics (not the politics) being employed by the candidates in the Presidential race.

The analogy I drew was investment in the stock market. You can invest in high risk, high yield stocks and make a killing or get hung out to dry. I remember a few years ago, around the time I started blogging actually, I worked with a gentleman who made it a hobby to invest in penny stocks. He invested in Sirius Satellite Radio (SIRI) at approximately $4/share and scarfed up 1000 shares. One day, not long after his investment, the stock price dropped to just over $2 and he was down half his money if he would have gotten out at that time. Within a few weeks, the stock soared to an all-time high of $7.95 and he cashed out on a short term investment and doubled his money.

Investment doesn’t always work like that and sometimes causes investors to drink heavily (ok, anyone who knows investors know they drink heavily anyway!). Some people take a more conservative, yet reliable approach to investment that involves in stable stocks that, over time, will almost always return a profit if you’re patient.

What we see in this presidential election are two approaches to “getting a message out”. On one side, you have McCain’s campaign running a largely traditional political campaign. Sure, they are embracing some bloggers, but largely the GOP machine (which is actually a historically highly efficient machine) is running a tried-and-true campaign, engaging the media, putting out press releases, accepting high dollar donations, etc. Low risk, yet will inevitably be effective as it’s tested and Republicans are very good at it.

On the flip side, the younger, more internet-savvy Obama campaign is running a guerilla campaign based largely in small, recurring donations en masse, the use of social media tools and engaging an army of Generation Y new media enthusiasts who put out compelling, and sometimes viral content. Take this video for instance (which I will avoid the discussion of the politics around – just to note that it is viral and effective in reaching the masses with over 280k views in just the past two days since publishing).

The problem here is that this is a high-risk move. Social media is so new that no one yet has it figured out. Jeremiah Owyang thinks companies should be using FriendFeed to do social media press releases but pitches this idea as an early adopter. We’re all early adopters. Social media is in the age of early adoption and though there is a lot of attention to blogs, YouTube and all the other social services, it is unclear what the actual tangible results will be. No one knows and though it looks promising now, the landscape is changing so fast that, come November, the use of social media and small donation policy could have a backlash effect on the Obama campaign.

It’s a high risk, high yield investment.

By the way, we also talked about the FriendFeed thing on this morning’s podcast.

Update: The Media Bullseye Podcast I was on this morning. Thanks Sarah and Jen for having me!

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