6th November 2012
Cast of Millions
With the US elections finally upon us, here's a snapshot from Martha's Reader’s Digest column, all about the role that digital has played in American politics, and some of the fab projects that are crowdsourcing public ideas and creativity right here in the UK:
Four years ago, Obama won by 170,000 votes in Florida. Renowned as the swing state for the White House, 320,000 older Jews backed him — because their grandkids told them to.
Called the Great Schlep (schlep is “to drag oneself” in Yiddish), and comprising a website and online film — and also faith that bubbies and zaydes would listen — young Jews were inspired to visit, call or email their grandparents and tell them why to vote Obama. Within days, the campaign went viral — and the rest is history.
Back then, Obama and his supporters were lauded for innovative use of technology. Now, at the climax of the 2012 clash, it’s a given that both camps will maximise digital potential. Facebook, Twitter, apps, and platforms such as Obama’s Dashboard (which allows volunteers to coordinate local campaigns, find like-minded souls, and use social media type tools while giving organisers a bird’s eye view)... you name it, they’ve got it, and crowdsourcing public ideas and creativity is the new frontier.
While looking worldwide is a great way to glean good ideas, there are heaps of top tools and projects underway in the UK that could do with your time and skills. Here are my favourites:
Epetitions.direct.gov. uk lets us create and sign petitions online. Over 36,000 have been submitted, and 12 people sign up every minute.
PeoplePoweredChange.org.uk is the concept behind all Big Lottery Fund projects such as Yoursquaremile.co.uk, which enables anyone to transform where they live with pride in their area, belief in local people, good advice and the right tools.
38degrees.org.uk offers a new way to take action on the issues you care about: from tackling poverty, protecting schools and hospitals, to the environment.
Download the PDF here for the whole shebang, or pick up November's Reader's Digest, out in shops now.