Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

Who Sent the "Yes We Can" Video Viral?

BY Nancy Scola | Wednesday, June 30 2010

A study by a Cal State-Long Beach political scientist finds that bloggers and the Obama campaign drove the remarkable spread of will.i.am's "Yes We Can" video, media coverage less so.

Writing in the Journal of Information Technology & Politics (who knew?), Cal State-Long Beach political scientist Kevin Wallsten releases his findings on what made the winter 2008 will.i.am video "Yes We Can," a well-produced and celebrity-filled 5-minute ode to Barack Obama and the meaning of his campaign, such an enormous hit that it pulled in some 5.4 million YouTube views in its first month.

With the caveat that video virality is "complex and multidirectional," Wallsten finds, well, the chart up top.

Or, to use our words, Wallsten found that the Obama presidential campaign itself played a major role in generating views for the "Yes We Can" video by deeming it worthy -- posting it to their official campaign blogs and including it in pre-Super Tuesday emails sent by Michelle Obama. He writes that "Internet users, bloggers, and journalists seem to have taken" the campaign's attention to a video it itself hadn't made "as a cue that the video was something worth paying attention to."

Bloggers, too, drove interest in the video. "[B]log discussion," writes Wallsten, "exerted a significant impact on both the number of people who watched the video and the amount of media coverage the video received."

Less influential was your more traditional press. Wallsten found that "although journalists covered 'Yes We Can' extensively during its first month online, there is no evidence that media reports contributed to the video going viral."

The full 20-page study is here.

News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

NYC Open Data Advocates Focus on Quality And Value Over Quantity

The New York City Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications plans to publish more than double the amount of datasets this year than it published to the portal last year, new Commissioner Anne Roest wrote last week in an annual report mandated by the city's open data law, with 135 datasets scheduled to be released this year, and almost 100 more to come in 2015. But as preparations are underway for City Council open data oversight hearings in the fall, what matters more to advocates than the absolute number of the datasets is their quality. GO

Civic Tech and Engagement: Announcing a New Series on What Makes it "Thick"

Announcing a new series of feature articles that we will be publishing over the next several months, thanks to the support of the Rita Allen Foundation. Our focus is on digitally-enabled civic engagement, and in particular, how and under what conditions "thick" digital civic engagement occurs. What we're after is answers to this question: When does a tech tool or platform enable actual people to make ongoing and significant contributions to each other, to a place or cause, at a scale that produces demonstrable change? GO

More