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Online Civic Engagement: Hey, Folks, It's Harder Than It Looks

BY Sam Roudman | Friday, January 11 2013

Budding interest, mixed results in city-backed online volunteer organizing. Photo: Eric Kliff

City officials enticed by the oft-repeated promise of the web for increased citizen participation, beware — if you build it they won't necessarily come. Read More

On Curation: Celebrating Web of Change 2012

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, September 13 2012

Hollyhock garden and main house. Photo by Ted Fickes, 2012.

I've been to a lot of conferences over the years: PopTech, PCForum, eTech, Web 2.0, Government 2.0, South by Southwest, Transparency Camp, Netroots Nation, RightRoots, Politics Online, MESH, the International Journalism Festival, Guardian Activate, and re:Publica all come to mind. Many of these more than once. And of course, since 2004 I've curated twelve Personal Democracy Forum conferences, nine in NY and three overseas, with the help of my partner-in-crime Andrew Rasiej and our hardworking and devoted staff. But I've never experienced anything as soul-, heart- AND brain-satisfying as Web of Change (WoC). Here's why. Read More

Would Harry Potter Fight for Immigration Reform?

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, August 6 2012

Dumbledore's Army in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Warner Brothers)

Nineteen-year-old Julian Gomez just put out a video to fellow Harry Potter fans explaining why they should care about immigration reform. Gomez, a video blogger for the political action group Harry Potter Alliance, announced July 31 that he is an undocumented immigrant. The group is hoping this will mobilize Potter fans, who have already organized around charity work, to get political. Read More

In Socially Conservative North Dakota, a Gay Candidate Using the Web to Win

BY Cody Lyon | Friday, August 3 2012

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: Joshua Boschee is an openly gay candidate for public office in a socially conservative state, but observers say he's got a real shot at becoming one of Fargo, North Dakota's next representatives in the state legislature.

Boschee's home state of North Dakota has, according to one study, the lowest proportion of same-sex couples in the United States. It's a conservative state, although "conservative" means something different in the only state in the Union with a state-owned bank and a state-owned grain mill and elevator.

The 30-year-old activist and assistant director of leadership and organizations at Minnesota State University is a special case in part because he and his campaign manager say social media is offering him a competitive edge. People he might not otherwise know how to find in a city like Fargo, such as people who respond to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues but aren't already a part of LGBT-focused communities there, he can find on Facebook instead. And when he builds his constituency anywhere, he says, he immediately sees those persuadable voters following up to find out more about him online.

Read More

Hidden in Plain View: Obama 2012's Organizing Blueprint

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, July 3 2012

Image from "Campaigning to Engage and Win: A Guide to Leading Electoral Campaigns."

Yesterday, the New Organizing Institute, a progressive training center, published a 210-page manual titled, "Campaigning to Engage and Win: A Guide to Leading Electoral Campaigns." Written by and for campaigners at every level of politics, it is also the Obama 2012 field strategy, hidden in plain view. It is also an argument for a different way of campaigning than the traditional reliance on fundraising and TV ads, one that calls for starting earlier and engaging supporters more deeply in all aspects of a campaign's life, and one that builds on the one thing that may make campaigns in the digital age different: thanks to technology, it makes sense to involve more people. Indeed, it may be the best way to win. Read More

Workers' Voice Asks the Crowd for Campaigns to Care About

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, June 18 2012

Workers' Voice, the super PAC of the AFL-CIO, is close to finishing its "platform to encourage volunteer action," and expects to launch it next month, Eddie Vale, communications director for Workers' Voice, writes in an e-mail. Using that platform, supporters will be earn the right to direct some of the organization's spending by participating in Workers' Voice field and online program and completing certain actions. To complement that effort, similar to a survey that MoveOn recently sent to its supporters, it has sent a message to its supporters asking them which election races are important to them. Read More

Online Organizing In Wisconsin May Show Shades of Things to Come

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, June 6 2012

Gov. Scott Walker's supporters celebrate ahead of his win yesterday. Photo: WisPolitics.com

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker has many factors to thank for his victory in Tuesday's recall election. His supporters raised $7.50 for every dollar in Democrat Tom Barrett's campaign coffers and outspent Barrett's supporters in advertising. But one of the most striking things about his victory is that Republican grassroots activists used the web to mobilize a polarized electorate, something Democrats have traditionally been able to do more effectively. Read More

Online Organizing 2.0: How Change.org Found Its Groove (and Moved to the Center of Online Politics)

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, May 15 2012

Change.org.

For Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: How did Change.org, a political startup founded in 2007, finally find its groove? And what does its sudden emergence at the center of online politics mean for the future of advocacy? Read More

Obama's Campaign is Prepping to Roll Out the Online Campaign "Dashboard"

BY Nick Judd | Monday, May 14 2012

The Obama campaign is "poised" to unleash Dashboard, the campaign tool we've been hearing about in pieces here and there since November 2011, the Guardian's Ed Pilkington and Amanda Michel write. Read More

[OP-ED] Spin Machines: Remember When Political Tech Was Hard to Find?

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, May 8 2012

Political technology has evolved to be faster and cheaper. Photo: Dottie Mae

Finding the tools necessary for political organizing today — on a scale large enough to reach and mobilize tens or hundreds of thousands of people at a time — just doesn't seem as hard or as costly as it may have been even four years ago. People have fewer barriers standing between them and a chance to act outside of existing party or institutional structures, and they're already introducing some eccentricity into the predictable orbit of American politics. Read More