Monday, April 25, 2011

Practicum post 7: Meredith

For my last practicum post I looked at what people are doing to get Obama reelected in 2012. As we learned in class, the netroots era took off during the Obama campaign. Obama capitolized on his ability to use social media to gain both voters' attention and their actual votes. The Obama campaign heavily relies on the "grassroots" idea. you go to the campaign homepage, the first you see is print that states: "As the 2012 election begins, we know grassroots support will be more important than ever before. President Barack Obama is working every day to keep making America stronger — and together we've got an opportunity to get his back." The 2012 campaign website is a good example how how campaign managers are acting as netroot activists so it doesn't look like they are just selling their candidate.
The site is called On the site there's the typical "donate here" buttons and etc. One of the things I found kinda of interesting was that the site calls its campaign a "grassroot" campaign and they do "grassroot fundraising." There are buttons that even say "contribute to grassroot fundraising." Something else that seems important is the professional blogger on the site. As we talked about in class, the emergence of profressional blog When gers was a coincidence that helped the netroot explosion. This blogger, named "Mary," constantly posts and focuses on the campaign organization and what other people are doing to promote and support Obama. This is a quote from her blog: "Campaign Manager Jim Messina has just sent a message to supporters sharing a campaign strategy presentation with folks. The briefing sets out how we can work together to build an unprecedented grassroots organization to win in 2012." As a professional blogger, she's encouraging her audience to get involved in the grassroots/netroots organization for Obama. There are thousands of people who follow "Mary's" blog. They have built a community for themselves. This audience addresses a lot of their comments to not only specific people but they refer to the Obama supporters as "O'Family" a lot and talk to each other what they can do to bolster the Obama vote.
I think the most important and vital piece of this website is the "find a group" button. This button allows you to type in your zip code and find a support group near you. You can then get in touch with the leaders of the group and can make a donation to the group's effort. When I typed in my zip code there were at least 10 different groups. Some work together and some don't. Just as important as this button is the "events" button where you can find events and rallies supporting Obama in your area. This is a really good example of how political campaigns and activists are using the internet as a way to "on the ground" organize. The Obama campaign is also a good campaign of how the netroots become more organize and less loose. People are talking to each other through the campaign website and can find organizations to support Obama.
While it seems like a lot of people are dicussing and getting in touch with their local organization, I think that Morozov's idea of "slacktivists" can play in here. The first thing the website asks you is "are you in?" as sort of the campaign starter. You can enter your email address to say you're in and sometimes the campaign sends you personalized emails. I clicked that I was in, but I didn't really do anything even though I felt like I was doing something. Is showing my support for Obama in this way really enough? Or do I need to go out and publicly campaign for him? I'm not doing anything beyond the internet to support Obama (at least not right now), so I think the idea of being a "slacktivist" can play in here.
Overall, this project was a little difficult for me because I didn't know where to start. I started by looking at what was going on in Egypt but really didn't understand enough about the politics or how to even go about tackling that project. Then I focused on how the DNC communicates with it's audience through the internet and I found that the DNC relies on social media to communicate and to advocate for it's political views. I then looked at how people use news sites to debate and talk about political issues and how they potentially use news sources and sites as a way to organize since it is a major way we get out information about what's going on in the political world. Finally, I looked at the Obama campaign for reelection and how people use the website to truly netroot/grassroot organize. Even though I was confused at the begining I think I got the hang of it at the end.

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