Greetings to those of you finding your way here by way of the 140 Characters Conference (#140conf) at the Kodak Theatre, home of the Oscars and if you’re not new here, our video coverage of the 2007 CNN Democratic Debate between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, in Los Angeles. I’m speaking today at 3:35PM PT on the panel Hollywood Politics: The Making of a Twitter Cause Celeb. My co-panelists are Wendy Cohen from Participant Media and Ted Johnson from Variety, and it’s being moderated by blogger Meagan Carberry.
First thing’s first, I hope you’re already interacting with me via Why Tuesday? on Twitter. If you’re not, please start now.
For those of you that have no idea what the #140conf is, here are some details:
At the #140conf events, we look at twitter as a platform and as a language we speak. Over time it will neither be the only platform nor the only language. #140conf is not an event about microblogging or the place where people share twitter “tips and techniques” but rather where we explore the effects of the emerging real-time Internet on Business.
The original scope of #140conf was to explore “the effects of twitter on: Celebrity, “The Media”, Advertising and (maybe) Politics.” Over time the scope expanded to include Sports, Music, The Arts, Sciences and more. Given the location of #140conf:LA, this event will have a special focus on the use of twitter in the Entertainment Industry.
American voter participation ranks near the bottom of all countries in the world. Why Tuesday? was founded in 2005 to honor the 40th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act and make the state of America’s voting system an issue our elected officials cannot afford to avoid. In 2006, our co-founder Bill Wachtel started the Get Out The Why? contest, seizing on the emergence of YouTube in the political scene to put candidates and elected officials on the spot about election reform by asking them one simple question: why do we vote on Tuesday, smack in the middle of the work week?
That’s how I got involved with Why Tuesday?, and after meeting with Bill, we decided to go a step further and make Why Tuesday? not just a 501(c)3 that advocates a dialogue about election reform, but one that forces the issue by using social media. We put our heads together with Joe Trippi, who linked us up with the folks at Echo Ditto and Jim Brayton. On September 25th, 2007, we relaunched the website based around the Why Tuesday? Candidate Challenge. We set out to get every 2008 presidential candidate on the record, on video, about voting in America, and we did (including President Obama and Senator McCain).
From the moment we relaunched the site, Twitter was a part of our platform. At first we weren’t sure how to use it, but looking back, it provided a memorable scrapbook of the 2008 campaign and as Twitter developed, so did our use of it. I tweeted before and my interview with President Obama at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and from a horse-drawn carriage outside the ABC News debate in Manchester, New Hampshire.
As the campaign progressed, we joined forces with a major coalition of nonprofits and news organizations to be a part of the Twitter Vote Report, a tool designed specifically to find voting hot spots on Election Day. This complimented nicely our participation in Video Your Vote, on which we partnered with PBS and YouTube to create the largest library of polling place video ever. Every video was marked on a map, and the highlights were aired on PBS on Election Day. Perhaps this year, the two efforts can combine. One thing is for sure, there’s lots of room for improvement in our voting system, and coverage of it, and Twitter will certainly be a part.
Photo of the Kodak Theater via patrick kiteley on Flickr.