The online success of the Barack Obama campaign involves proven methods of the new Internet political process as well as high-power thinkers from multiple fields. Featured individuals of an article in today's Wired blog describe the success of the Obama campaign's Web strategy and its volunteer training structure. My.BarackObama.com, the Democratic presidential nominee's social networking site, houses the Neighbor-to-Neighbor tool. It empowers individuals by enabling them to find out where to canvass and encourage voters.
This movement builds on the precedent of Howard Dean in 2004 and Ron Paul's Republican nomination run this year. Integrating a new model of volunteer participation and national feedback with an emphasis on voter registration, Democrats learned that much more than fundraising is involved. "We've really poured a lot of energy and thought into making this focused on real-world organizing activity," says Chris Hughes, co-founder of Facebook, now focused on Obama's online organizational efforts.
These efforts stress individual empowerment - identifying people as their own organization and action hubs. The site's resources make it simple to host rallying parties and form call banks at home using personal mobile phones. As a result, visits and phone calls will be heavily rained upon swing state voters - this writer is glad to not live in Pennsylvania or Florida during this election season just for that reason.
This unique combination of volunteer-built hierarchies, grassroots support and Internet networking can also thank Harvard research for additional support.
Public policy lecturer Marshall Ganz, and psychology professor Ruth Wageman, both scholars at Harvard, developed this organizational-team theory for the Sierra Club in 2003. This theory works to strike a balance between "lone ranger" types and the "shared purpose" structure that characterizes causes such as volunteer programs.
This training program, known as "Camp Obama," appeals to individuals on a more emotional level, similar to the Democratic candidate's oratorial style, instead of more logical draws such as platform policies. More on Camp Obama at this Wired article.