YouTube to YouBama
BY Ari Melber | Wednesday, January 30 2008
Barack Obama recently shattered YouTube records with popular speeches, and now his YouTube fans are talking back.
Obama's videos keep breaking campaign records -- his rebuttal to the State of the Union drew over 700,000 views in two days -- and some people are uploading their own grassroots videos on his behalf. A new site, YouBama.com, invites people to join a "citizen generated campaign" to advance Obama's candidacy.
Founded this week by Eric Park and Christopher Pedregal, two computer science alums from Stanford, YouBama is a hub for people to put their Obama support into words. It features testimonials from random people, political activists, Internet celebrities like Craigslist founder Craig Newmark, and real celebrities like Charles Barkley. "There's nothing more convincing than finding someone who really believes in a candidate and can tell you why when its heartfelt," said Pedregal in an interview with The Nation. "It might resonate more than a pre-packaged ad," he added. Pedregal and Park made the site in their free time and they do not run any advertising on it.
Since its launch this week, with a plug from the hot blog TechCrunch,
YouBama has drawn 22,000 visitors. That's solid for a new, unfunded site, though it won't catch Obama's YouTube channel anytime soon. That portal has drawn over 11 million views -- about ten times that of Hillary Clinton -- and it is the most viewed channel across YouTube this week. (Many of the viewers are new people who are not on Obama's email or social network lists, for example, over 25,000 viewers of the rebuttal video came via Friendster, where Obama does not even have an official profile.)
On Wednesday, the Obama Campaign sent a fundraising email to supporters from Ted Kennedy promoting a YouTube highlight reel of his recent endorsement. Under the subject line "I'm with Obama," Kennedy invited supporters to join him on YouTube. "You may have already seen clips of my speech or parts of it on Monday. But take a look here. The energy in that room was amazing, and it's spreading across America," read the message, which was also sent to Kennedy's own email list.
Of course, Obama's online popularity says little about how most people will vote, as I've noted before. But it does reflect a sizable public appetite for hearing directly from the candidates about substance -- rather than the punditry, strategy and polls that dominate campaign media coverage.
Below is a testimonial from YouBama, followed by the two most recent official videos from the Obama and Clinton Campaigns.