Sunday, January 27, 2008

Git-r-done and the Socal Web

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, has been championing a concept he calls the social graph. In it, he describes the various connections and interactions we have among our friends, family, co-workers, etc. Certain people we talk with often, via phone or email. Others we reach out to sporadically, or even rarely. All make up the idea of our social graph.

His vision for Facebook is to replicate this idea in an online environment, employing the benefits that technology offers. The database never forgets a phone number. Active as well as passive interactions are possible. It is now feasible to play a board game like Scrabble (aka Scrabulous within Facebook) with friends, but not have be in the same room, or even complete the game in one sitting.

I believe Zuckerberg's theory is actually representative of what is happening to the web in general. As the blogshpere grows, social media expands, and (hopefully) the idea of data portabilty becomes a reality, we will see a truly social web.

Given this theory, an idea I have loosely touched upon is to drive action through this social graph, using the tools and ideas from traditional campaigning. In Michael Turk's post-mortem on his work at the Thompson campaign, he touches on this idea as he describes the Bush-Cheney efforts of '04:
(Enabling volunteer action online) allowed people to participate on their own terms, rather than forcing them to attend a Saturday morning walk.

The Bush campaign was innovative in allowing people to participate in the mechanics of the campaign, but it never developed the community that could interact, inspire, and spur each other into action. I felt in 2004, and still feel today, that is the missing pieces required to fully realize the benefit of these applications.

Driving this activity through the social graph and connecting with the existing online community is the role of today's campaign web strategist.

Turks openly mentions opportunities missed, such as the delayed Red Truck campaign. This is not the role for the savvy web developer, nor is it the role of the accomplished blogger. The campaign web strategist must understand the technology and what makes up an online community, but more importantly, must have the skill and the experience to be among campaign senior leadership to acquire the resources necessary to drive decision-making and get things done.

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