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Getting the Download from Joe Trippi

BY Micah L. Sifry | Sunday, March 30 2008

I had the pleasure of sitting down with Joe Trippi a week ago, as we both were in DC for the launch of Larry Lessig's new Change-Congress project. (Joe is working with Larry on CC, and the Sunlight Foundation, which I consult for, was co-sponsoring Larry's speech). If you watch closely, you can see Larry in the background of the first video, in fact. In general, the lack of production values suggests I should stick to my day job, I know. The sound quality on the following videos could be a lot better (I was using a Flip video recorder, held by hand as you can tell, without the additional external mike). I apologize for that. Here were the highlights of the conversation for me:

1. Trippi sees the explosion of "friending" of political candidates on social network sites like Facebook as highly valuable to campaigns. When I asked him if someone friending a candidate was doing little more than putting a digital bumper sticker on themselves, Trippi replied, we'd love to have 700,000 people putting bumper-stickers on their cars, noting that the typical campaign he worked on in the past was lucky if they managed to get 50,000 bumperstickers on supporters' cars.

2. He is struck by Obama's huge lead in video views over Clinton, noting that if he led her by 13 million to 12 million actual votes, the big lead in video views could only be helping him.

3. He bemoans the lack of organic connection to voters that still pervades the process, citing a viral discussion that happened around the Edwards campaign as a rare exception. The Edwards camp had uploaded video of the senator working on a New Orleans house clean up as part of his anti-poverty efforts, at the end of which he said "Tag, you're it." Soon, other Edwards supporters were uploading their own videos doing similar things, all ending with the same tag line.

4. He broaches the idea that the "Yes We Can" meme may have hurt the Obama campaign, in that what Obama really needed after Super Tuesday was to close Clinton down by framing her consistently as the "status quo" candidate, instead of spreading the euphoric, touchie-feelie "Yes We Can" meme. Once a campaign pulls together a network of a million supporters, it isn't that easy to turn them on a dime. "So far the one thing we haven't figured out is the tool that lets all those people know now, we need to turn this way," he says.

5. He loves that Ron Paul's campaign put its real time donation data on the web, helping stimulate those massive "money bombs." He noted, "The Ron Paul thing is a little like Dean, where everyone thinks the campaign is crazy and there's nothing you can learn from it."

"We're all pioneers now," Trippi concludes. No one knows the best way to use YouTube yet, for example. (Such as your humble correspondent, who can't even hold a Flip video straight.) "And it probably won't be a campaign, it'll be an individual committing an act of journalism," he adds, for example. "No one's perfected it, but the Obama's campaing is closest. I envy the tools they have.... I think we're just still seeing the first birthing of this new politics, too." I agree.

Here's part one:

Here's part two: