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

New YouTube Horror Video Parodies Obama Campaign's Data Mining Prowess

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Monday, November 5 2012

As our publisher Andrew Rasiej told ace political reporter Josh Richman of the San Jose Mercury News recently: "If the tech story of the 2008 election was social media, the tech story of 2012 is Big Data."

So the time was ripe for an inevitable YouTube parody. Simon Ganz, a 27-year-old writer working as an assistant to several comedians in Hollywood, delivered the goods in an eerily spot on three-minute sketch uploaded on Sunday (watch it below.)

What makes it so germane is that it hits on many, if not all, of the key tech themes that have powered the marketing of the candidates this election cycle -- the increasing use of cross-referencing databases, which can make voters feel spied-upon, personalization of messaging, and the persistance of that messaging.

"I don't know if you've ever been on the Obama e-mail list, but it is constant begging," Ganz said in a phone conversation, laughing. "Jon Stewart, when Obama was on, made fun of him for it. Every day, there's an e-mail from someone different, either Michelle [Obama], or [David] Axelrod, or someone talking about very specific amounts, like they need $68 from me."

Ganz said that he and his co-conspirators were inspired to make the video after receiving a bunch of robocalls. In his own specific case, a robocall with the recorded voice of Bill Clinton moved Ganz to write the parody. He was struck by the contrast between Clinton's ability to sound emotional and appealing, and the delivery of that kind of recorded appeal through the relatively "soulless" method of robocalling.

Ganz said he's not bothered by the Obama campaign's digital dossiers.

"Everything works like that now," he said.

News Briefs

RSS Feed today >

First POST: Jargon Busters

Changes in the RNC's tech team; big plans for digital democracy in the UK; how people in Cuba are making their own private Internet; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Stalking

How the DEA tracks millions of America motorists; will the Senate enter the 21st century?; Obama veteran Jeremy Bird's role in the upcoming Israeli election; and much, much more. GO

monday >

First POST: Video Stars

How the White House hit a home run on YouTube post-State of the Union; why the Barrett Brown sentencing casts a chill on online security research; how media producers use Crowdtangle to optimize their Facebook audiences; and much, much more. GO

friday >

First POST: Moneyballed

The Gates Foundation's new "global citizens" email database, and why it's a terrible idea; why young people like the NSA more than older people; using open data about NYC taxi drivers to ID Muslims; and much, much more. GO

thursday >

First POST: Monkeying

Net neutrality proponents call foul on the GOP's plans; StandUnited.com seeks to be the right's Change.org; tons of civic tech news from mySociety, Chicago and Civic Hall in NYC; and much, much more. GO

More