Category Archives: technology

Obama’s Texting His Running Mate Choice: All About GOTV

When the Obama campaign e-mailed me about his decision to send text messages to its supporters about Obama’s choice of a running mate, I thought it was nothing more than a clever gimmick.

Strategically, I thought that the texting method of announcing the next vice president was wise because it would make his supporters feel important and empowered, and that it would generate a decent buzz in the media.

As usual, there was a lot more to this method than I originally suspected. From Garrett Graff in the NY Times:

The ploy may seem silly — the fad candidate adopts the latest tech fad — but it’s an important part of one of Mr. Obama’s most under-recognized campaign efforts.

Snip

But announcing Mr. Obama’s running mate by text message has little to do with proclaiming the selection and everything to do with getting out the vote on Election Day in November. The move should add thousands — and more likely tens or hundreds of thousands — of cellphone numbers to what is already one of the most detailed political databases ever created.

A study conducted during the 2006 elections showed that text-message reminders helped increase turnout among new voters by four percentage points, at a cost of only $1.56 per vote — much cheaper than the $20 or $30 per vote that the offline work of door-to-door canvassing or phone banking costs.

For Mr. Obama, who is building his campaign around bringing in new young voters and registering minority voters, there’s no more effective outreach than a text message.

Brilliant!

And it makes a lot of sense. If the race remains as close as it appears to be, young and first-time voters will be Obama’s key to victory. It makes a lot of sense to get their cell phone numbers now as people await his choice with anticipation and then text them a few times between now and November with other campaign updates, and then work to get out the vote through text messages.

I’m loving this campaign.

The iPhone

OK, I admit it, I’m a bit of a technophile. I love gadgets, and that’s something I don’t like about myself. It’s embarrassing to feel such love for an inanimate object.

But there. I said it.

That being said, to reward and prepare myself for the new job, I ordered an iPhone 3G a couple weeks ago and finally got it last Thursday. Upon my first use of the device, I fell in love.

I mean, what’s not to love? It’s sleek, easy to use, the quality of the calls are great, and I have the internet in my pocket, so I can win any argument at any time simply by pulling up the web sites that support my assertions. It’s an elegant device.

I also love having the ability to download 3rd party applications (software programs) that allow me to customize the phone in ways that meet my needs. I’ve added some applications that really are useful: the WordPress app is the first one that comes to mind, and I love Pandora (from the website that learns your musical preferences and creates digital radio stations that play the music that you love or might love, given your tastes), and a few other applications that are either quite useful, or just silly fun.

Many of the applications need a lot of work and don’t deliver on their promise. But I can get over that. There are a lot of great apps like Evernote and Truphone that make the apps seems worthwhile.

There are a lot of other apps that are complete trash.

But that’s OK. Download the free apps that you think will be helpful and delete the ones that suck.

On the downside —

The battery:  So far, if I use the iPhone pretty heavily through the day, it’s almost out of juice before 5:00 PM. I know they are trying to do a lot with a small device, but geez…at least allow me to get through the end of the day before I have to charge it.

The touch screen: Normally, the touch screen is great and easy to use. But if you make a sweaty call (the AC in my car is down), it’s hard to control the screen. I spoke with my sisteer today from my iPhone and after we hung up, I must have called her three times after we ended the conversation since I couldn’t get control of the phone because it was wetish.

Overall, I’m really happy to have the new phone, as it usually does what it is supposed to do and it’s so damn elegant.

It will be an asset for me when I take my new job, as it really has the ability to remind me to stay me on-task through some reminder technology. The games are really good. The GPS will be a great tool when I have to find new places.

If it’s easy for you to get or renew your cell contract, by all means, get an iPhone. If it’s a hassle for you, don’t worry about it.

Google to Provide Homeless with Free Voicemail

This is a great thing to do:

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. — Google has made an announcement that could help hundreds of homeless people in San Francisco get back on their feet.

Every single homeless person in the city will be given a life-long phone number and voicemail, should they choose to accept it, NBC11’s Lisa Bernard said.

Snip.

A homeless person will be able to call in for his or her messages from any phone.

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The move by the city and the company would allow someone to be able to fill out a job application, which asks for a call back number.It will allow clinics to share test results.Mayor Gavin Newsom and Google said they want to empower people.”How do you communicate as a homeless individual? ” Newsom asked. “How do you expect your life to turn around if you can’t even get information or if someone can’t even get in touch with you?”

“It just seems exactly like any other voice mail,” said Craig Walker, senior project manager of Google. “There’s no stigma attached to it that ‘hey this is a temporary thing’ or ‘this is an 800 number.’ It’s really just a local number owned by the user.”

In my work with the homeless, I find that there are so many barriers for those who are trying to get back on their feet, and communication is a huge one. Imagine trying to find a job and having to write the phone number of a homeless shelter so your future employer can call you back to arrange an interview. 9 times out of ten, that hiring manager will just hang up upon learning that you are homeless.

What this project does is help empower people to take control of their lives, and those who are willing and able to do that will benefit from this service, and as a result, I think we all will.

I can’t wait for the project to spread nationally.