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Posts Tagged ‘widgets

E-Democracy.org Bar Camp

We cosponsored and attended a Bar Camp on E-Democracy this weekend. The unconference style meeting was fun and provocative. The issues in political messaging are very similar to the issues in public interest messaging especially from the design and development point of view.

I was very interested in the vast amount of information sunlightfoundation.com has made available through several websites. Opencongress.org, Congresspedia.org and OpenSecrets.org are just a few. Check out sunlightfoundation.com/resources.

Tom Steinberg the Mysociey.org were also very interesting in their work in the UK bringing individual voices to government issues.

Other interesting projects talked about were E-Democracy.Org, PolicyCommons.org, AmericaSpeaks.org, Democracybeginsathome.org, LinkTank.com, Debatepedia.org, DeepDebate.org (guys let me know if I forgot anybody).

Our discussion on interactive messaging at E-democracy camp identified a list of important aspects of an interactive campaign can be generally applied to interactive messaging.


  • Set clear goals both in terms of numberS and depth of response.
  • Design viral methods to spread the interactive message.
  • Integrate with the overall communication process. (press, website, ads)
  • Design separate communicable methods to update influencers.
  • Understand what is important to the audience.

Interactive Content

  • Relevant to the individual.
  • Flexible based on feedback.
  • Continued over time. Don’t just disappear.
  • Show the impact of the interaction.
  • Respond to feedback in a human voice.
  • Use conversational and everyday speach.
  • Allow updating to keep the content fresh.
  • Allow updating to keep the content fresh.
  • Be sure to address negatives in feedback immediately.
  • Followup individually with highly interested audience members to offer them additional tools roles, or information.


  • Identify bloggers and websites which address aspects of your message.
  • Customized to address leaders and follows concerns.
  • Show that you are listening.
  • Identify self organized groups whose message matches yours and talk with them.
  • Crosslink the communities and forums which have your message.
  • Plan for lades to participate in getting feedback.
  • Spreading should be through trusted contacts.
  • Be open to teed back through indirect channels.


  • Geographical and demographic measurements.
  • Deeper measurements than just email list county and hits.


  • Keep engaged with audience members who showed interest.

So what is a public service announcement (PSA)?

A nonprofit message distributed voluntarily by commercial entities outlets through media outlets in order to expose the audience to a message.

Goal: Send information to the audience so they are informed by passive viewing.


  1. The audience is leaving the broadcast media.
  2. The free time and space in commercial media is shrinking.
  3. The audience is paying less attention to passive commercials and they are by nature fleeting.

A solution would need to:

  1. Find an outlet where the audience is migrating to.
  2. Remove commercial considerations from distribution.
  3. Create an active message which engages audience members for a long period.

Solution to fit these needs:

1. Online Social Networks (OSNs) as distribution channel for interactive PSAs.
The audience across all demographics is moving to OSNs faster than to any other online media. The news here is what friends, associates and colleagues are doing, reading, thinking and writing. Some OSNs have a large percentage of members who spend more time on the OSN than on watching TV.

2. OSNs put distribution decisions in the hands of audience members.

Individual audience members are the sources for the most valued and trusted content on online social networks. They make decisions based for the most part on personal considerations when it comes to public interest messages. The messages most interesting to the audience at a personal level will get the most distribution.

3. Online widgets can contain interactive messages and create long term engagement with the audience.

Online widgets can be placed on the online social networks at no charge and can be very interactive. They also can stay so long as the audience finds them interesting. They can be updated and even take on a life of their own through new media content which the audience itself contributes.

Interactive and long term engagement create much stronger connections between the audience and the PSA.

4. Added Benefit: OSNs have the potential to spread behavioral change

Recent scientific studies have begun to quantify the power of social networks to spread behavior (See the July 2007 New England Journal of Medicine study on obesity spreading through social networks). Online social networks are after “social networks.” So if behavioral changes can spread through social networks, at least online behavioral changes can spread OSNs. And changes in online behavioral will presumably have an impact on offline behavior.

Social networks can act not only as a distributor channel for a message but also as channels to spread behavioral change, which is something traditional media distribution channels only attempt when their commercial interest is involved.

So what is the new definition of this interactive PSA or (iPSA)?

An interactive message distributed virally by individuals through online communities in order for the message to become part of the conversation between audience members and create long term engagement between the message and message provider.

Goal: Change the behavior of the community by changing the conversations within the community.