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What Businesses NEED to Learn from Romney’s Project ORCA

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Project ORCA was supposed to be the saving grace for the Republican presidential campaign. In a race that came down to the wire in many states, this new way of organizing Romney’s league of enthusiastic volunteers to monitor voting across the country could have been responsible for swinging the votes his way. Obviously, that did not happen, and in a post entitled “The Unmitigated Disaster Known As Project ORCA” one would-be volunteer, John Ekdahl, outlined exactly  how this project failed. Another disgruntled would-be volunteer shared similar experiences with Brietbart News here.

Now that how has been answered, the remaining question is why. And, importantly, what can we learn from this mess?

Simplicity, Defined

Project ORCA was designed to be extremely simple. Using smartphones, volunteers were supposed to be able to easily report who had voted and who had yet to show up at the polls. That way, registered Republicans could be contacted and encouraged to come out to vote.

While the system was fairly uncomplicated for volunteers, the introduction to it was not clear. This is where Project ORCA fell short, and this is where many businesses fall short as well. Simplicity marries design and implementation. One without the other, and you risk failure.

With Project ORCA, volunteers’ questions were not adequately answered during conference calls. They didn’t receive their packets until the night before, and the term “app” confused people (Project ORCA used a mobile website, not an app available on the Android/iPhone store, but they called it a “mobile web app”). Volunteers were not instructed properly about the information they needed to take to their polling location, so many were turned away. Questions to the help line went unanswered.

When you introduce a new technology to your customers, is the implementation as simple as the design? Is your audience prepared for the changes? Are you ready to provide customer support? Have you taken the process out of the users’ hands as much as possible?

Timing is Everything

More important that simplicity perhaps, is timing. The Republican party waited until the last minute to implement this new system, causing mass chaos on election day. Ekdahl reports attempting to reach out for help so he could still fulfill his promise as a volunteer, but it seems as though the system was overwhelmed with people having problems, so he never received a response. Undoubtedly, many others found themselves in a similar situation.

Despite conference calls about Project ORCA in the weeks leading up to election day, too much was left to the last minute, with no real Plan B in place if problems ensued. The timing was just wrong. Had the kinks been worked out in October or better yet, even earlier, through beta testing and mock election day run-throughs, this initiative might have instead been a success. It may have even changed the course of the election.

I’m sure the Republican party did some testing before the big day. I’m not suggesting they just threw this together and crossed their fingers that it would work. But they didn’t also allow their volunteers to be part of the testing. If you’re introducing a new technology to your audience, whether it’s a brand new ecommerce site, a new interface for a digital product, or something else entirely (like a new way of counting votes at polling locations), you have to give people a chance to test out the system before they need to use it.

Half-Truths and Problems Ahead

What I find most troubling about the reports I’ve been reading from Project ORCA volunteers is that they all seem to have been reassured that problems were localized. Even before election day, it sounds like frankenspeak talons were tightly grasping this entire project. Writes Ekdahl,

“From the very start there were warning signs. After signing up, you were invited to take part in nightly conference calls. The calls were more of the slick marketing speech type than helpful training sessions. There was a lot of “rah-rahs” and lofty talk about how this would change the ballgame.”

Never underestimate your audience like this. People don’t want to hear half-truths and false flattery. They want answers to their questions and help with their problems. Nothing will sink a business faster than their customer base feeling like they’re being fed lies.

No matter where your political loyalties lie, I think we can all agree that Republicans have some rough roads ahead. It’s arguable whether the success of Project ORCA could have changed the tide, but it’s inarguable that it’s failure is making many uneasy about party management. This is perhaps the most important lesson businesses need to learn from the Republican party and the downfall of Project ORCA: the seas won’t always be smooth sailing, but when problems arise, how you manage your audience, especially through online channels, will set the course for the future.

Where is your business headed?

Image credit: Gage Skidmore

Why The President’s Tweet Became the Most Popular of All Time

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President Barack Obama made social media history with a tweet posted right after he was named the winner of the United States 2012 president election. This tweet surpassed tweets by celebrities like Justin Bieber to become the most shared tweet in history. As of writing this post, the tweet has been retweeted 0ver 793,000 times and favorited nearly 283,000 times.


It’s not surprising that a tweet from the POTUS after winning a second term went viral, but the circumstances are just part of what made this tweet so readily shared. Let’s take a look at why Obama’s tweet became the most popular of all time and what you can do to add some of that special sauce to your own tweets.

  • Visual Tweeting

The first and most obvious takeaway from Obama’s tweet success was that people respond to visuals. According to the Encyclopedia of Distances, about 65% of the general populus are visual thinkers, which is why teachers often make an effort to include visual aids when explaining a new topic and why infographics and Pinterest have both risen in popularity in the last year. The lesson here is to share images on social media when possible, especially if they help tell your brand’s story. People find these kinds of pictures easy to share.

  • Opportune Timing

Election night was a busy time for Obama and his staff, but they didn’t wait until a week later to celebrate Obama’s win with a tweet. They capitalized on the excitement of their audience by tweeting quickly after the election results were announced. The sunshine in the background easily gives it away that this is not a live picture, leading me to believe that staffers planned this tweet (and probably had tweet planned in case he lost as well). Can you take advantage over your audience’s excitement about something? Think about the timing of your tweets and plan them well.

  • A Personal Moment

It’s rare to get a look into the personal life of Obama, but this was an extremely personal picture with his wife, Michelle. Do you get personal with your audience? You don’t have to do so with every tweet, but allowing an occasional peak into your personal life can really help your audience connect with you. We’re all more likely to buy products from people we know, like, and trust. Personal moments allow people to get to know and like you, and from there, you can build trust.

  • Brevity

One of the biggest mistakes you can make on Twitter is not giving people the space to retweet you. If you’re right on the 140-character cusp, you’re not leaving room for “RT @yourname” or any comments about your tweet. This forces people to edit your original tweet if they want to retweet it, and frankly, most people won’t take the time. Obama’s very brief tweet helped to make it extremely shareable.

  • Emotional Tweeting

Lastly, Obama’s tweet is extremely emotional. To see him hugging his wife is not only a private moment, but also one that tugs are your heartstrings, even if you you didn’t vote for him. Anything emotional, whether it makes your laugh or cry, is easy for people to share, so think about how you can elicit these feelings from your followers.

Of course, a tweet that becomes as popular as Obama’s is something most of us can only dream of, but we can still adjust what we’re already doing to make our tweets more popular. For even more tips, tricks, and techniques for using social media for your business, check out our BusinessNext conference, featuring sessions like “How to Become an Effective Social Business Today,” “Social Media and the Law: Emerging Legal Issues and Obligations,” and more. And if you’re a content creator, definitely check out our next NMX event in Las Vegas for tips on promoting your blog, podcast, or videos using social medial.

Will Social Media Users Determine Who Wins the White House?

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The United States presidential election is heating up, and both incumbent Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney are turning to the Internet to garner support for their campaigns. But are they using social media correctly?

And will it matter?

Check out this video from Voice of America:

In the last presidential election, Obama had a huge presence online, and his following has grown since then. Romney has a smaller following when you compare his Twitter followers and Facebook page likes to Obama’s, but that is in part due to the fact that he didn’t spend the last several years as president.

This isn’t just about tweeting and sending out Facebook status updates, though. Both campaigns are attempting to get a little more personal with their social media followers. For example, the Democratic National Convention hosted a tweetup for Obama supporters and the Republican National Convention confirmed that they have several staff members dedicated to reaching out to online voters, according to France 24.

That in-person touch is what will really make the difference, not Facebook likes.

In 2008, I was an Obama supporter (I am currently undecided for the upcoming election). I followed him on social media, but I wasn’t a strong fan and I certainly never considered giving money to the campaign until I attended a rally in Scranton, Pennsylvania, near where I was living at the time. Seeing him speak in person and getting to shake his hand were what really convinced me to vote for him.

Yes, he blew John McCain (the Republican nominee in 2008) out of the water with his online presence, but he only won because he was able to connect with those followers in an emotionally-charged way.

Social media is great, but neither candidate has the time to send individual replies to followers. These accounts are run by staff members. If you look at either candidates’ streams, you’ll see little interaction. They’re just methods for broadcasting, like political ads on television. It’s not a two-way conversation.

That’s not to say social media has no impact on political elections, but it’s important to realize the power of personal communication. In my opinion, that’s why Obama won in 2008. It wasn’t that he had more fans online; it was that he got out there and spoke to those fans about issues they really cared about. Social media is just a tool for finding people who could potentially vote for you, not a method for convincing them to cast their ballot in your favor. In 2008, the candidate who was best able to connect with the people outside of social media was the candidate who won.

Ultimately, I think that’s who will win in this upcoming election as well – whoever can better connect with people about their needs, not whoever gets more retweets.

Do you think social media matters in the presidential race?

Digital Hatfields and McCoys: America’s Need for Better Judges

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Every day, judges have to deal with cases involving technology they don’t understand. This is simply a fact of life. However, with the rise of cases involving the Internet, we absolutely need judges who better understand how this technology works.

The average age of our Supreme Court justices in the United States is 66, and this number is on the low side since two of the nine justices sitting on the court were appointed in the last three years. Supreme Court justices are appointed for life; they hold their position until they resign, retire, or die unless they are impeached.

And what of other courts? According to a 2010 study by ProPublica as reported here, “About 12 percent of the nation’s 1,200 sitting federal district and circuit judges are 80 years or older[…]Eleven federal judges over the age of 90 are hearing cases — compared with four just 20 years ago[…] The share of octogenarians and nonagenarians on the federal bench has doubled in the past 20 years. The demographics of the federal bench have no analogue on the state courts, where judges mostly occupy their office for a term of fixed years and generally have mandatory retirement ages, often in their 60s or 70s.”

Why is this important? As a blogger, podcaster, web TV producer, or other kind of digital content creator, why should you care about the age of judges in the United States?

Digital Hatfields and McCoys

If you’re like me, you’ve become engrossed in History‘s recent mini-series about the Hatfields and McCoys. This legendary feud between families started with a little bad blood about events happening during and after the Civil War, and the major incident causing the feud to escalate was a dispute over a pig in Hatfield possession that the McCoy family claimed belonged to them. From there, things really escalated, with the families continually fighting, suing one another, and even taking the law into their own hands. It got out of hand.

All because of a pig.

I mention this because the Internet seems to be a breeding ground for digital Hatfields and McCoys. Bloggers, podcasters, commenters, and others online are very concerned with their rights to say what they want to say. But just because you legally may have the right to say something doesn’t mean you should. Online arguments have a way of escalating very quickly, just likes the feud between the Hatfields and McCoys did in the 1800s. Too often, people on both sides resort to fighting dirty, even when the original argument was over something as stupid as a pig.

And beyond that, many Internet users do not understand laws regarding free speech. Just because you’re allowed to voice your opinions does not mean you’re allowed to threaten someone or insinuate that your opinions are facts. You can and probably will be sued if you make a habit of doing these things.

The problem is that you can also be sued and punished for writing posts that do fall under the protection of free speech, simply because the judge doesn’t understand how the Internet works.

Aaron “Worthing” Walker versus Brett Kimberlin

To see how this can easily effect digital content creators, one needs to look no further than the case of Aaron Walker (previously blogging under the pen name of Aaron Worthing, according to Popehat) and convicted Speedway Bomber Brett Kimberlin. Aaron wrote about what happened (supported with court documents, video evidence, and other facts) here, which I highly recommend checking out so you understand the background of the story.

The story is rather complicated but according to The Blaze and other sources, Kimberlin and his supporters have been attacking bloggers (like Walker) who write about him with lawsuits, threats, and more. He’s filed over 100 lawsuits to date. Walker and his wife both lost their jobs due to Kimberlin and his allies harassing their employers.  Another political  blogger “Patterico” was “swatted”.

(Edited to add: Patterico’s real name is Patrick Frey whose day job happens to be working as an assistant District Attorney in Los Angeles. – police were sent to his home after someone (allegedly from Kimberlin’s camp) placed a hoax phone call to the LA police department claiming to be Frey. Posing as Frey the caller confesses to shooting and killing his wife. This resulted in the SWAT team being dispatched to Frey’s home with guns drawn. Frey was handcuffed. His wife and children were woke by police officers to verify they were alive and safe. You can read Patterico’s account of this incident here. Did you ever think someone would send the SWAT team to your home over a blog post? – Rick)

Kimberlin was recently granted a “peace order” (which is similar to a restraining order) against Walker claiming his blog posts were harassment and that Walker had incited numerous individuals to make death threats against Kimberly via blog comments and tweets.

I’ll be honest: I personally couldn’t care less about the politics behind this all. Kimberlin’s liberal music, support of the Occupy movement, etc. in relation to his past convictions don’t bother me because, at the end of the day, he served his time. I get why many conservatives and even some liberals don’t like him. But that isn’t what my post is about.

This is about the fact that the judge in Walker’s most recent court appearance clearly does not understand the Internet. Walker was accused of violating this peace order because a blog post he wrote about it was considered “contact” with Kimberlin. Furthermore, the judge overseeing this case, insinuated that Walker is responsible for the death threats Kimberlin has been receiving. Walker was arrested for “inciting,” which is encouraging others to “act in a violent or unlawful way.”

The anti-Kimberlin camp isn’t totally innocent. According to eye witnesses, Walker did not represent himself well in court and the judge became increasingly agitated. Guys and gals, if you have to stand before a judge, get a lawyer.

In addition, those on Walker’s side who resort to anonymous threats to Kimberlin are no better than people on Kimberlin’s side who have threatened Walker or have had others “swatted.” But just like it’s not one Hatfield’s fault that another member of his family shot a McCoy, it’s not Walker’s fault that his supporters took matters into their own hands. They are the people who should be brought to trial, not Walker.

Yet Walker was arrested, simply because the judge did not understand how the Internet works. Kimberlin set up a Google alert so he knows when someone is writing about him. Walker’s post may have popped up, but this clearly does not constitute contact. Has the judge ever used Google alerts? My guess is no.

Walker’s story also inspired others to write about Kimberlin, some very negatively and even in a harassing way (imo), but inspiring action is not the same as encouraging action. If Walker had said, “Hey everyone, send this guy death threats,” that would have been another matter. He didn’t (as far as I can tell).

At the same time, I do think this has gone too far. I refer again to the idea that just because you are legally allowed to do or say something doesn’t mean you should. As deplorable as a person might be, no one, including Kimberlin, deserves to live in fear because they’re getting death threats. We have to be responsible for the things we post online, and if we’re aware that what we write or say is going to cause physical harm to another person (or death threats, which are just a step removed from physical harm), I do think we have the responsibility (morally, if not legally) to edit what we post.

Who has the Power?

Right now, I believe certain people have powerful responsibilities.

First and foremost, Kimberlin needs to stop attacking anyone who writes facts and even opinions about him online. When you do controversial things (both in the past and in the present), some people aren’t going to like you. They have a right and perhaps even a duty to stand up and say why they don’t like you, and suing these people is taking advantage of the legal system. Instead, Kimberlin should spend his time in court against people who actually send him death threats.

Second, if you’re a blogger in the anti-Kimberlin camp, you need to be fair, factual, and professional. Realize that some of your readers are not as mature as you. Do not encourage them to “take up the cause” on your behalf. They aren’t always going to represent you the way you want to be represented. Instead, encourage your readers to do their research and come to their own conclusions about Kimberlin or anyone you don’t like. Present your case and understand that there are two sides to every story.

Lastly, if you’re an America, use your vote to make the judicial system fairer for online content creators. This also applies to people living in other countries with the same  problem. Judges who admit to having no idea how the Internet works should not be involved in Internet-related cases. Term limits or forced retirement is necessary to protect younger generations from rulings by people who don’t understand the latest technology. We need to be a collective voice, demanding that the first amendment is upheld online and that bloggers and other content creators should be treated fairly.

Kony 2012: The Power of Social Media at Work to Change the World

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kony 2012

This morning, one of my friends posted a video called “Kony 2012.” I didn’t really take notice of it at first because I’m not a super political person, but it did catch my eye because I thought, “Hm, I don’t remember hearing anything about a candidate called Kony in her state.” Then I saw another friend post it. Then another. So I decided to watch it.

Thirty minutes long, and I watched every second of it. That’s not the norm for me, especially in the morning when I’m busy answering emails and getting set up for work for the day. I usually just don’t have the time. But for Kony 2012, I made the time…and I hope you will too.

Kony isn’t a politician; he’s a war criminal that is literally stealing children from their beds to he can arm them and force them to kill. I’ve heard of that happening, but I’m embarrassed to say I didn’t know his name, nor did I know that we’re talking about tens of thousands of children. And that’s what this campaign is all about. He’s able to stay under the radar because people have no idea who he is. We need to change that so he can be captured and brought to justice.

It’s a powerful message, but what I think is interesting is that we’re going to watch something even more powerful in real-time: the use of social media to make a huge change in the world. Already, through Facebook and other social media sites, Invisible Children has made a huge difference, gaining support to raise money, reach politicians, and get the world out about Kony’s crimes.

Twenty years ago, this wasn’t possible. Today it is, thanks to social media. That, to me, is chill-inducing and more exciting than just about anything going on in the new media industry.

I hope you’ll take the time to watch and pass on this video, as well as sign the pledge and consider donating to Invisible Children. What do you think of their social media campaign?

What Does Twitter’s New Censoring Ability Mean To You?

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Like many social networks, Twitter is a very powerful platform for connecting people. While some of us might use it for nothing more than complaining about coworkers or sharing pictures of our lunch, others are using Twitter to take down governments and stop poorly-worded bills from becoming laws.

Yesterday, Twitter announced that it has refined the technology enough to censor tweets in specific areas of the world.

This doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. We all have this knee-jerk reaction to instantly hate anything that even questions our freedom of speech concepts, but before you get mad at Twitter, think about what this could mean for us as content creators and social media users.

Misplaced Anger

I think it’s important to start by understanding that Twitter isn’t going to just start wiping out your tweets willy-nilly. What they’re talking about is being able to block tweets on a country-by-country basis in order to comply with that country’s laws. Currently, Twitter already does censor some tweets that break United States laws – in most cases, that boils down to removing tweets that contain links to child pornography sites.

Some countries have very strict laws about what you can and cannot say publicly. Freedom of speech is not a world-wide civil liberty, unfortunately. Twitter isn’t creating these laws; governments are. I think public anger is a bit misplaced. We should be angry that governments are censoring their people, not angry that Twitter is abiding by these laws.

Some Access is Better than No Access

I won’t argue that censorship is a good thing, but I will argue that Twitter’s new ability to censor on a country-by-country basis is a good thing. Let’s use China as an example, since this is a country where Twitter is currently blocked. If Twitter wants to provide access in China, the company has two options:

  • Censor everything any user from any country says to meet China’s policies.
  • Censor some tweets in China to adhere to policies while leaving these tweets untouched in other parts of the world.

The second option is much better! Could you imagine if everything we said on Twitter was censored by the Chinese government? The third choice, of course, is to simple continue denying access to China so that no one’s tweets were censored to any follower, but I think some access is better than none at all. Even if my followers in China only were able to reader one out of every hundred tweets, that’s better than the situation now. I’d love to connect to new people, even if it was in a very small way.

Now, Twitter is unlikely to actually pursue Chinese operations at the moment, given the country’s fiasco with Google a few years ago, but this is just an extreme example of how it could work in countries with different laws. And a launch in China is certainly not out of the question.

A Commitment to Human Rights

One could argue that Twitter should not censor tweets at all, that they should simply refuse to provide services in any country with strict laws that don’t provide for freedom of speech. I argue that this approach is cutting off the nose to spite the face.

First of all, I don’t think any company that provides non-essential services is going to change the mind of a government power that restricts Internet use. Government in North Korea, for example, has shown the world that it can and will isolate its people. They don’t really given a you-know-what if their people have access to Twitter or not. So by refusing to enter these countries, Twitter isn’t really doing any good in my opinion.

Second, I believe it is important to support the people of a country. They don’t always agree with government policies. Heck, I don’t always agree with my government policies (who does?), but that doesn’t mean moving to another country is a better choice – and some people don’t have this option.

Third, this isn’t always a matter of black and white. For example, I think we can all agree here that spreading links to child pornography should not be protected under “freedom of speech,” and I’m glad Twitter removes those tweets. But from there, you can slope down to lesser and lesser “evils.” Where is the line drawn? Just because something is allowed by law in the United States doesn’t mean that other governments and cultures should have to conform to our standards. For example, pornography is illegal in many countries. Should Twitter boycott these countries the same as they boycott a country that censors tweets with negative opinions about the government?

Censorship for Positive Change?

Many major online companies, including Google, already censor their content in other countries to abide by laws, so this is nothing new. Twitter is just being extremely transparent about things, which I think is commendable. They plan to release information about who and where tweet censorship is being requested.

That could actually be a really positive thing for change in the world. It brings freedom issues to the forefront in people’s minds, both in the country being censored and in countries where people have more liberty to say whatever they want. So, censorship is bad…but Twitter’s move into countries where this is an issue could be good for raising awareness.

Not Without Problems

The concept of semi-censoring tweets is not without its problems.

Will Twitter simply listen to what a government official says, or will it allow tweets that aren’t breaking the law, even if a take-down is ordered? For example, what if the U.S. government decided to censor all the SOPA tweets earlier this month? Those tweets should be protected under the constitution, but if a take-down was ordered, would Twitter simply comply? Given the fast-paced nature of Twitter, the amount of time it would take for a tweeter to challenge something like that would make it a moot point. If tweets about SOPA were reinstated after the bill became a law, for example, it wouldn’t really matter.

And I also worry about misinformation. When someone is only seeing part of the story, ideas and facts can get dangerously warped very quickly. If someone is only see some of my tweets, they might form a very wrong opinion of me. Worse, it allows a government to have a lot of control on the message. If 99% of tweets about your leader are positive, is it because 99% of people actually like this person or because almost all negative tweets were caught and removed by censorship filters.

Thinking About Our Content Differently

I think, as content creators, we should be excited about Twitter’s plans to expand into new countries, even if tweets will be censored. It means new followers, new connections, and new readers/viewers. However, it does mean that we have to think about our content a little differently.

With Twitter’s new ability to censor tweets in specific countries, our messages aren’t going to be seen in the same way by every follower. If you want to reach this new audience, it’s important to make sure that you’re tweeting in a way that allows your messages to be seen, and that might require a little research to learn about laws in other countries.

Let’s Keep Our Eyes on Things

This new power for Twitter does not come without responsibility. Whether we realize it or not, censorship on Twitter has already been happening, but now that it is easier to wipe out tweets in specific countries, I think all of us users need to band together and just…well…keep an eye on things. It’s now much easier for a government – even the United States government – for for Twitter itself to abuse these powers. It’s up to us to ask questions and keep those in charge accountable for the decisions they make.

Here are a few more posts with information and opinions on this topic, which I’ve quickly collected with the help of one of my favorite plugins of all time, Zemanta. Weigh in with your opinion or a link to your post about the topic by leaving comment below.

Why SOPA and PIPA Matter More Today Than They Did Yesterday

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Yesterday, sites like Wikipedia, Reddit, and Craigslist blacked out in protest of SOPA and PIPA, two anti-piracy bills that would cause tons of Internet censorship. Countless blogs also joined the protest, and major sites like Google and Pinterest put up notices about the bills, even though they didn’t shut down completely.

Today, the Internet is, for the most part, back to normal. I’m still seeing a few tweets here and there about SOPA and PIPA,and a few sites are still alerting users/readers, but it’s back to business as usual for most people.

I have to be honest. That scares me.

SOPA and PIPA protests are more important today than they were yesterday. I saw many reports (mostly in mainstream media, like on the news) saying that the SOPA/PIPA protest yesterday was a giant failure. While I don’t believe that’s true, I do think that getting angry on Twitter and Facebook for a day doesn’t really matter. What matters is the follow through.

BlogWorld Expo is a conference for content creators. Last night, we held a Twitter chat to talk about SOPA and PIPA and one of the points brought up by Curtis Silver is that it is our responsibility, as content creators, to make sure this issue continues to stay on people’s minds. Others made similar points and they’re absolutely right – yesterday, several members of Senate pulled their support, but PIPA could still pass next week and SOPA could as well next month. We need to continue to voice our opinions against these bills.

Have you called your state’s elected officials? Tell them that you will not vote for anyone supporting SOPA or PIPA. Even an email or hand-written letter helps get your voice heard. Believe it or not, these politicians do listen to the people they represent because – surprise surprise – they want to get reelected. By saying you won’t vote for them, you’re threatening their jobs.

If you’re a content creator online, don’t let your readers/listeners/viewers forget how important SOPA and PIPA are. And no matter who you are, continue sharing this information on social media. Yesterday was only a battle. Let’s make it our goal to win the war.

Could Facebook Shut Down? Understanding SOPA and PIPA

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If you haven’t seen it yet, check out our video explaining what SOPA and PIPA are and why you should care about these bills:

Pass the video on to all of your friends so we can fight SOPA/PIPA together! Even if you aren’t from the United States, these potential laws affect you; they affect every Internet user.

Please head to http://www.blogworld.com/SOPA to find out more about how you can join the fight against SOPA/PIPA and join us on Twitter this Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2012 at 9 PM EST for #bwechat, where we’ll be talking about these bills and what they mean to you.

Should We Forgive GoDaddy?

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SOPA has sure made a mess of things, hasn’t it?

No company knows that better than GoDaddy. When the list of SOPA supporters came out, Internet users everywhere cried to users to boycott GoDaddy, moving hosting and domain name registration to other companies. A lot of people did. Last Friday, when this story was getting top billing on tech sites everywhere, over 21,000 domain names were moved to other companies. That hasn’t stopped people from registering thousands of new domain names.

Bob Parsons, CEO of GoDaddy - worthy of our forgiveness?

The net loss for the day was only 1,020, which is pretty insignificant considering that they manage over 50 million domain names.

Yesterday, the specific day when people were encouraged to move their domain names, the boycott fizzled completely. The company actually had a net gain of over 20,000 names, though they have admitted a spike in transfer rates.

The boycott has made a difference. A few days ago, GoDaddy released a statement saying that they no longer support SOPA. Then, more recently, the company released a statement saying that not only were they no longer supporting the bill, but they now directly oppose it. The lack of support for transferring names yesterday can be attributed to both GoDaddy’s changing stance on the issue and Reddit’s new focus on actual politicians. (Reddit is where the call for a GoDaddy boycott originally started.)

So with all of that said, is it time for the blogging community to forgive GoDaddy?

This blogger says yes.

I personally have domain names registered and hosted with two different companies – GoDaddy and HostGator. I was poised to switch everything to HostGator, but when GoDaddy changed their position and decided to oppose SOPA, I decided to keep my account. For now.

Finish Your Vegetables, GoDaddy!

In my opinion, it sends the wrong message to boycott the company after they’ve given in to consumer demands. I’ve even seen people making fun of GoDaddy for changing their position so quickly to appease customers. Um…isn’t that what we wanted? What, did you want a more difficult fight?

The whole point of a boycott is to change what a company is doing. So if the company makes the changes you want and you still boycott, it sends the message that it doesn’t matter whether a company listens to its consumers or not. Next time, they won’t bother changing because it won’t make a difference anyway.

A good analogy is a kid who won’t finish his dinner. You tell the child, “Because you haven’t eaten the rest of your peas, you aren’t getting any cake for dessert.” If the child clears his plate, you have to give him the cake. That was the implied deal. You can’t really say, “Well, originally, you decided not to finish your dinner, so you still aren’t getting cake, even though you changed your mind.” Well, I mean, you can, but good luck getting the kid to eat his dinner tomorrow. You’ve conditioned him to think that it doesn’t matter what he does; you’re going to withhold cake if you feel like it.

Why Are You Anti-GoDaddy?

There’s no shortage of reasons to dislike GoDaddy. If you decide to leave because of the dead animal debacle, do it. If you object to their racy ads, transfer your names. If you believe the company can’t be trusted to make good decisions in the future, close your account. These are all good reasons to leave – for some people.

But if your reason for leaving was to boycott the company’s support of SOPA, I think you should stay – or even consider moving back if you already transferred. The boycott worked, and we want to send the right message – that if we boycott you and you change, we’ll stop boycotting. It’s time to forgive and move on to find other ways to make a different in the fight against SOPA. A lot of other companies and politicians still support the bill, and we need to at least try to change their minds.

A final warning to GoDaddy, though: the Internet might forgive, but we never forget. You’re on probation.

Picture via Parsonsrep at Wikimedia Commons.

If Only We Could Vote Via Facebook – Likester Analyzes Republican Presidential Debate

Author:

I’ve said this for a while now … it’s too bad we can’t vote for politics the way we vote for American Idol contestants. I think a lot more people would show up to support their faves! But even though we can’t text our votes, people are definitely Liking their candidates on Facebook, as proven during the first Republican Presidential Debate featuring all of the candidates last night in New Hampshire.

Likester, a global popularity engine that analyzes Facebook “Likes”, kept a close eye on the event – where the seven candidates debated Medicare, the national debt, abortion, gay marriage, immigration, and more.

The site says their goal is to predict something “meaningful” – the 2012 Republican nominee – and they’re starting with an analysis of the debate results:

Winner: Mitt Romney. Prior to the debate, Romney had 936,090 likes. During and immediately after the debate he had 19,658 new likes, for a total of 955,748.

2nd Place: Michele Bachmann. Prior to the debate, Bachmann had 326,225 likes. During and immediately after the debate she had 9,232 new likes, for a total of 335,457.

3rd Place: Ron Paul. Prior to the debate, Paul had 382,228 likes. During and immediately after the debate he had 8,717 new likes, for a total of 390,945.

So, even though Paul is ahead in Likes, Likester gave Bachmann the second place slot because of her overall percentage gain.

The remaining candidates (in order) were Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum.

While Likester successfully predicted the winner of American Idol a full six weeks before the finale, I have to wonder if the same can be said for the presidential race. I think the AI audience is more vocal, and more involved with social media, than many of the political voters. What do you think? Will social media predict the winner?

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