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Ask Sarah Palin: CA Dems' Interactive Billboard Goes Live [UPDATED]

BY Micah L. Sifry | Saturday, October 4 2008

This is an absolute first and frankly it's f---ing brilliant. The California Democratic Party has a giant electronic billboard up somewhere near a Los Angeles-area rally that Republican VP candidate Sarah Palin is doing today that is displaying live text-message questions people are sending in. On top of that, the whole thing is streaming live back onto the web using Check it out:

The CA Dems website says:

"To submit a question for our electronic billboard, text the keyword ASK then the question to the number 69866.

For example, send to 69866: ASK You said you'd run a respectful campaign on the issues, what happened?

Keep your questions under 160 characters including spaces and remember to keep them family friendly since we're showing them in public."

Questions are streaming in: "How is your plan to lower taxes any different from what Bush has advocated for the last 8 years?"..."What would be your first plan of action in the event that John McCain is unable to continue his duties as President?"

I'm working on getting some background info on how this was done; stay tuned for details.

UPDATE: Apparently the Palin rally is at a Home Depot in Carson, CA. The billboard screen is on a truck parked nearby provided by a company called GoVision, which rents out mobile billboards. Matt Lockshin, the CA Dem online organizing director behind this, says, "There are about 100 folks outside protesting plus the screen."

This isn't the first time Lockshin has done something like this. Working on the "It's OUR Healthcare" campaign in CA in 2007, he organized a similar text-to-screen stunt around a rally in Sacramento. He told MobileActive back then:

"We'd been taking everything out of our bag of tricks that we could, and were looking for something new and different that would hit our targets at a different angle." He had seen a similar approach -- a screen using Wiffiti at the Yearly Kos conference -- and was inspired to try a similar tool for IOH's advocacy campaign. The campaign liked the idea of producing live content from individuals texted in on a public screen that allowed the voices of people all across the state to be heard. "Even though people couldn't participate physically they could still make sure that their message was prominently seen," said Lockshin.

Lots more details on that effort here. (Thanks to Matt Ortega for pointing me to that background.)