July 7, 2011 § Leave a Comment
We’re starting to see strong instances of social media being brought into politics in a big way. Governments and agencies around the world have certainly been dabbling and taking small steps towards social media for some time, but so far, they haven’t taken any major actions to plunge in and take full advantage of social media for the things its good for: two-way communication. In the last few months, it’s refreshing to see this is starting to change.
The first example is very recent. Of course, it’s Obama’s Facebook and Twitter town halls.I was excited when I learned of Obama’s live streaming Facebook Town Hall a few months ago – and was pressed up to my phone on a streetcar trying to catch every word. I was even more impressed last night when I saw the news about Obama’s Twitter Town Hall. The combination of the two events likely makes Obama, in my opinion, one one of the most progressive and savvy world leaders when it comes to leveraging the power of social media as a means of communication. We saw it on the campaign trail in the run for Presidency, and we see it now three years later. While the raw, uncontrollable democracy and equalized voices of social media may cause fear and apprehension for some, it’s heartening to see Obama trying it, embracing it, leveraging it to reach deeper into the minds of his audience. While it’s been causing a stir around the quality of some of the questions asked, on the other side, there have also been some very real issues to Americans, and frankly the global community, that have been addressed as well. With democratic discussions, you take the good with the bad.
Dan Pfeiffer, Obama’s Communications Director was quoted saying:
If you’re going to communicate with the broad public, it is no longer sufficient to simply do it through the traditional mainstream media. We’re always on the lookout for ways to have a productive interaction with the public in new and exciting ways.
I have to say, I fully agree.
And then, there’s Iceland. Having suffered a catastrophic financial crash in 2008, Iceland is doing everything it can to bounce back… including crowdsourcing their new constitution. They’ve engaged 950 randomly selected citizens to come together to brainstorm and discuss the new constitution, and have opened up the process to the public for further input and discussion: a process which has been overseen by a committee of 25.
They’ve built out their new website as a hub of their progress that houses line-by-line posts of new constitutional clauses for public commentary. They have established a Facebook page to encourage further discussion and to give updates on progress. And finally Twitter to push out links to information and to field public questions. Iceland, has in effect, methodically put in place a full-blown cross-channel digital strategy, and they’re doing it right.
As a bit of trivia, it turns out that Iceland has never actually written its own constitution before. The one currently in place was based entirely on the Danish constitution and carried over in 1944 when Iceland gained independence from Denmark. It’s certainly time for a change – and what a way to do it.
I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next – and whether other countries will start following suit.
August 2, 2010 § 2 Comments
My boyfriend’s brother just returned from Moscow, bearing dolls. Matryoshka dolls, or Russian nesting dolls, to be exact. I don’t know what it is about these small wooden dolls. The concept is so simple, and so universally known, but equally delightful no matter how old you are, and how often you have opened the dolls to reveal the smaller one within.
But far better than the iconic traditional Russian dolls were a second red, white and blue doll-set bearing a smiling Obama and Medvedev on the largest doll. Within each one was a smaller doll, with the faces of the American Presidents of the past painted on each one… a small refresher in America’s recent political history. It was delightful. Despite knowing who they were, it was sheer, childish joy anticipating then revealing the painted faces of each President. Amazing.
It just goes to show. It doesn’t matter if an idea’s been done: it’s all in the execution… or the reinvention.
June 15, 2010 § 1 Comment
In the shadow of the worst oil spill the world has ever seen, not suprisingly, since the start of the crisis, BP has been desperately trying to contain what they consider a PR scandal that is as hard to cap as the oil gushing out of their faulty rig. If you haven’t seen it already, below is a video of a CBS news crew being threatened with arrest for trying to capture footage of the impact of the oil spill along the coast of Louisiana.
What’s been the most apparent, however, over the long weeks that have followed is a sheer lack of understanding of the magnitude of the spill, and any sign of true caring. Where once, it was touted as the hopeful leader of sustainability, BP is now the posterchild for greenwashing at its worst – continuing to spend millions on a positive publicity campaign around the oil spill, while failing to make any significant progress in capping the oil that continues to gush by the barrel-load into the ocean. « Read the rest of this entry »