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Inside the "Hope Factory": Max Harper on the Obama Media Machine

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, May 4 2009

Run, don't walk, to go watch Max Harper's detailed presentation on the "Hope Factory," the Obama campaign's system for connecting media, membership, fundraising and activism over the course of 2008 race. I've seen and participated in dozens of talks on "how they did it" but never heard anyone put it all together in one place in quite the way Harper does. Harper joined the Obama video team in July 2008, where he piloted the concept for the "Blueprint for Change" videos. Harper's talk is anchored around how the campaign understand the various uses of video, but as you'll see, he offers an overarching analysis of how all the parts fit together that strategists of all stripes will want to study.

Here's one screenshot from his talk (sorry for its blurriness) that is a flowchart of how information, people and resources flowed around and inside the campaign.

Here's another one, showing the types of videos done by the campaign, and their distribution across two axes, total viewership and thematic types (major inspirationals, minor inspirations, direct to camera, celebrity PSAs, state-focused, training, etc.).

And here's a third on their microtargeting efforts, and work he was involved in aiming at reaching the "long tail" of groups that might be interested in supporting Obama. (AAPI is Asian-American Pacific Islander, and "MAYA" is Maya Soetoro-Ng, Obama's half-sister, who made several special "Message from Maya" videos, each that open with a different greeting, one in Hmong, one in Chinese--in twelve different languages in all.)

Harper gave his talk two weeks ago at an interdisciplinary conference on "YouTube and the 2008 Election Cycle" hosted by the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. There were lots of really interesting talks given there, judging from the program. Glad all of them are archived and available online.