14 November 2007

Introducing Virtual Vantage Points

I didn't get a chance to post yesterday because I was helping my company, APCO Worldwide, launch their first major foray into the blogosphere - Virtual Vantage Points (VVP).

VVP is a unique and unprecedented approach to examining the blogosphere. We identify the leaders in specific online communities and examine their discussions to see what themes and issues keep pushing to the forefront. Then experts in policy and industry from APCO examine those discussions and help explain why they matter to people, both online and offline.

I'm helping to identify online communities and the leaders in them, and reaching out to them. I'm also working with our developers to refine the tools we create and use, like the "community cloud" generator we're using on the blog this week. But the real value isn't simply in a nifty cloud generator - it's the ability to look at the discussion from a group of community leaders and to apply some top-level analysis to those discussions. The people leading that effort are amazing.

They include Craig Fuller, who was Chief of Staff to then Vice President George H.W. Bush and the former head of the National Association of Chain Drug Stores. Darren Murphy is a former special assistant to British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Trevor Neilsen worked in the Clinton White House, led the communications effort for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for a time, and is a member of the Wikimedia Foundation Advisory Board. And Bill Pierce was a Deputy Assistant Secretary and chief spokesman at the US Department of Health and Human Services. We have more contributors joining us soon, and with the help of readers we'll be identifying and refining more communities.

I thought Bill Pierce's introductory post was a perfect example of how this tool is so valuable. Bill took a look at ALL the communities we're tracking so far - 15 and counting - to see who was driving the political discussion about health care. He saw who WAS talking about health policy issues: health policy analysts (obviously), doctors to some extent, and interestingly, politically-oriented moms. Who WASN'T talking about health care to any great extent? Top-tier political bloggers on the left or the right:

On the minds of policy bloggers are issues surrounding patients and doctors, research, information and data – and money. But no where to be seen is talk of SCHIP or Medicare, both hot topics on Capitol Hill. It’s no surprise that political mom’s are talking about health care, since most health care decisions are made by moms. But look at what else pops up, people, passion, outreach, movement, political and advocate, which combined with issues like health, school and war gives you a strong sense of their frame of mind. I’d pay attention to this group.

Doctors sound a little like health policy bloggers, but in no surprise, very focused on their profession, their craft, care and disease and importantly their patients.

Very little of this is heard on the campaign trail or in the halls of Congress. Perhaps this means some of our politicians are going to have to serve some time in the “hot box.”

This is exactly the kind of analysis I hoped we'd get from this project. It was something my colleagues and I discussed months ago. It shows political people where they can go to participate in the meaningful discussions on the issues people care about most. It gives people some direction - not the definitive word, but direction -on what issues and ideas communities want to explore. It's just a beginning, but it's a great first step.

VVP is a work in progress and hopefully always will be. I hope everyone has a chance to check it out and participate in the discussion about the discussions.

1 comment:

Lawyer Mama said...

This is so interesting! I've gotten a bit behind on your blog, so I'll have to look and read more about what you're doing. What intrigued me most was seeing topics I've blogged about passionately lately, on my personal blog and collaborative blogs. It's nice to know someone is listening.