01 October 2007

This year, Columbus Day is October 4

John Edwards is visiting Columbus, Kentucky (population 229) this week.

Edwards promised he would visit the place that issued the most "demands" for him via the popular event management utility Eventful. An organized effort led by Shawn Dixon, a 24-year-old political activist and Editor & Contributor of DitchMitchKY, poured 1,872 demands into Eventful, beating out a grassroots campaign out of Eureka, California. Dixon used email, social networking utilities MySpace and Facebook, and a diary on the mega-blog Daily Kos to spread the word and get demands for tiny Columbus.

So what used to be a site to promote ambitious yet undiscovered entertainers turned into a tool for political candidates to measure their support in micro-targeted areas across the country, and a cute gimmick for Edwards to score a puff piece in the techie/political press. And it gave politically motivated people in rural areas like Western Kentucky a tool to organize and get noticed.

Alex Hunsucker, the Business Development Manager for Eventful, wrote a guest post at techPresident and made an interesting observation:
The most important reason this was a success is that the Edwards campaign gave up control. To date, nearly every content-driven movement on the web has had a veiled layer of campaign regulation or review process. The Edwards/Eventful competition, however, was completely democratic. It was a no strings attached, unbiased, democratic process. The incentive to participate in a competition where all votes are equal is much higher than knowing your submission is going through a review process or selection committee.
I'm not so sure the real success belonged to Edwards, though he clearly benefits from the attention and deserves some credit for creatively leveraging a new tech tool. In my opinion, Edwards didn't "give up" control. Edwards never had control to give up.

Yes, he has control over where he goes and what online tools he chooses to use. But in the online channel, none of the candidates have control over their reputations or their issues. Discussions are ongoing, in the political blogosphere and everywhere else. Edwards actually recognized that people were having discussions anyway and decided to use that to his benefit.

To me, the real winner here is Dixon - a young, smart and aggresive guy who used all the social networking tools at his disposal to spread the word efficiently and effectively and acheive a goal. Eventful is also a winner, since their tool was the catalyst for this over all the other 2.0 tools out there. But Dixon showed everyone how to use it.

No comments: