Barack Obama is supposed to have the tech set’s vote sewn up. But at Tuesday night’s NY Tech Meetup, that wasn’t so clear.
Rather than pitch a startup or a tech innovation, Techpresident founder Andrew Rasiej used his 5-minute slot to explain Obama’s Web appeal. His people, Andrew said, have “recognised they are not a campaign, they are a media operation.” To prove his point, he compared two videos: Obama’s viral “Yes We Can” (grassroots and cool), and Hillary Clinton’s “Hillary and the Band” (corporate and lame).
When you read about this in print, it doesn’t come off as controversial. But Andrew’s presentation managed to whip up the docile Meetuppers, some of whom seemed to think he was delivering an Obama stump speech. Moderator Scott Heiferman had to cut in to explain to Rasiej’s hecklers this was no ideological diatribe, or an endorsement, but an explanation for Obama’s online dominance. (For another take on Andrew’s presentation, check out SAI contributor Hank Williams’ blog).
We weren’t offended by Andrew’s presentation. But we’re also not entirely persuaded: Until we see a candidate whose Internet popularity actually translates to real-world votes, we won’t be convinced that cool videos, tons of Facebook friends or any other online metric is decisive in the voting booth. We know the Web can help organise the motivated and raise money (Ron Paul, Howard Dean), and we know it can end a political career (George Allen). Can it actually help someone get elected?
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