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Archive for 2010|Yearly archive page

Goodnight and Good Luck

In Uncategorized on April 30, 2010 at 5:16 pm

   When I first proposed starting this blog for my professor, I created a detailed list of all of the dates I would turn in a post. I found out quickly that blogging on a schedule is not the best strategy. For my first blog I had decided to write about health care, but a few paragraphs into my first draft the earthquake in Haiti happened. I realized then how flexible bloggers have to be.
            My first few tries at writing that blog were rough to say the least. I found my post reading more like a news article or school report. I lacked a candid conversational feel. I had one of my friends who writes stand up comedy look over it. She definitely helped me pick up a more friendly laid-back tone.
            Finding topics for my blogs was a big part of this experience. Most of the time I relied on the news. But working in a Congressional office didn’t hurt. Being on the Hill I found out about what was going on and I had access to experts on the issues.
On top of that, being in DC was a great place to write my blog. As cheesy as it sounds, the city is incredibly inspirational. Being in the middle of everything I was writing about really added to my understanding of what I was blogging about.
            Research was a big part of my blogging process. Because I wrote about social media, I found all of my information on the internet. While blogging, I discovered a lot of great sites that I used very frequently. TweetCongress.org was a godsend. I could search for my topics in the tweet stream and see which Representatives or Senators were talking about it. I also used Digg.com and Mashable.com to find articles and blogs about my subjects. After that, all there was left to do was write!

That all being said, I have a few tips for those of you interested in starting your own blogs:

1. Write about something that interests you- I have always loved analyzing politics, so when the opportunity arose for me to write a blog, I incorporated it immediately. This has been such a fun experience because blogging about politics gave me an informal way to express my opinions.

2. Look at others blogs before you start your own- A regret of mine before starting was not to read other peoples blogs. By comparing others work, it gives you an idea about how you want to structure your posts, design your page or craft your tone.

3. Make sure your subject is writable- Before I started writing, I realized that my blog required outside information, meaning I had to make sure I could find material to write about. Social media and politics don’t come up together when you google them, so I had to sit down and search the Web to check that I would have the necessary tools to write. That’s where TweetCongress, Digg, Twitter, and Mashable (etc) came in.

4. Shop around for the blog site that best fits you- When I first started, I was using blogspot. But when a friend showed me WordPress, I knew it was a better fit. Nothing against blogspot– it’s a great site, but for me WordPress was better. To avoid switching, do a test run on each to see what you like best.

5. Don’t sweat the small stuff- Since I am not the best at grammar, spelling, etc. I really like the informal style of blogging. Now I’m not saying to put up your blog with tons of typos, but when there are little problems, its not a big deal. Just make sure all of your facts are correct!

6. Not all blogs are created equal- While my blog is for a class, not all blogs need to be as structured. Sometimes a great post can be a picture and a caption. Sometimes it can be random ponderings on life. Write what you know/like. After all, blogging is supposed to be fun!

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To Infinity and Beyond?

In Uncategorized on April 16, 2010 at 7:15 pm

Yesterday, the President traveled to Cape Canaveral, FL to the Kennedy Space Center, and announced his new outline of space exploration programs. While he allotted an extra $6 billion dollars to NASA, he also announced the Constellation Program–the 2020 mission to the moon– would be cut. What a bummer. But Obama backed up his argument noting, “We’ve already been there”. I kind of get that, but it’s not like a family vacation to Sea World, it’s ok to go to the moon a couple times.

After reading some summaries on CNN, I turned to Digg to find some other literature on the issue. While “digging” through (pun intended) I also found a blog, “Bad Astronomy” from Discover Magazine online. As a public relations major, I can say that aeronautics, physics or really science of any type is not my bag. But, this blog explained the new policy plan and what it means for the future of space exploration, travel, etc. Also noted in the blog was a result Constellation’s cancelation will be job loss. Queue disagreements in Congress…

As is the new trend, many Congressmen took to their Twitter accounts to express their disagreement/support. SHOCKING TWIST: Many Republicans oppose the new Obama plan!!! You heard it here first, folks.

Of the Republicans to express their disapproval is Texas Congressman Pete Olson. Olson tweeted and updated his Facebook page reflecting his disapproval of Obama’s new plan. He linked his post to a press release on his Web site. And he’s not alone. A number of Repubs have expressed their disapproval on their Twitters, Facebooks and Web sites.

However, only one Democrat took to social media to back the President. Senator Mark Udall tweeted just yesterday about how he believes the Orion program will in fact help jobs. He linked his tweet to his blog about why he supports Obama’s plan. A Twitter, Facebook and blog? Snaps for Senator Udall.

Outside of the donkeys v. elephants some of our country’s most famed astronauts are equally split. While Neil Armstrong calls the cancellation of Constellation “devastating” his crewmate, Buzz Aldrin supports Obama. According to CNN, Aldrin said, NASA needs to explore new frontiers, not retrace 40-year-old footsteps—Ironic considering his current gig on Dancing With The Stars!

License to Drill

In Uncategorized on April 2, 2010 at 9:17 pm

This week President Obama announced the expansion of domestic offshore drilling, especially off the East coast. This news comes with the intent of decreasing dependence on foreign oil, and simultaneously continuing to work on alternative energies. Well you can’t say we aren’t multitaskers here in the US of A.

Obviously the reactions to this announcements are mixed (how odd). Even the comments under this YouTube show some pretty strong reactions. It appears that some think this is a much-needed step in the right direction towards weaning off of foreign oil. The others, this is a terrible decision that sacrifices our coasts and threatens entire marine ecosystems.

Reactions in Congress are mixed as well. Both member of the House and the Senate have taken to Twitter to express their support/disdain. Also, these reactions differ among politicians in the same political parties. While Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) Tweeted: @Mark Warner: Pres. Obama’s offshore oil/gas exploration anncmt is good news & positive step forward for VA & will help expand domestic energy production, Frank Pallone (D-NJ) is not a happy camper.

In fact, Pallone has Tweeted a number of times to show his concern of how this drilling will affect the Jersey Shore (take that how you will). Pallone also took to his Facebook page to write: Offshore drilling on the Atlantic Coast invites an environmental catastrophe that would have severe economic consequences for New Jersey.

I was reading through the responses to this comment, but it turned into a battle royal between some Democratic and Republican constituents so I decided to move on. He did get 15 likes though.
On the Republican side of things, it’s also pretty complicated. House Republican Leader John Boehner retweeted a tweet about a comment he made: John Boehner: RT @Drudge_Report: Boehner: Decision Keeps Vast Majority of America’s Offshore Energy Resources Off Limits… http://drudge.tw/9CGSxN Other Republicans are simply saying its a step in the right direction.

@NatResourcesGOP has been a very actively tweeting about this new decision. I’ve been following them since this decision because this page has really done a good job of providing information and links. One interesting link I found through this tweet: Offshore oil drilling might make environmental sense (via @washingtonpost) http://bit.ly/9C3PWd #energy #tcot #drillgate — which discusses the possible environmental GOOD that could come from offshore drilling. They also link a tweet to a Rasmusen Report showing that 72% support drilling.

While I try not to interject my personal beliefs into this blog, I will again end with a video of one of my favorite songs from one of my favorite muppets:

Please Don’t Take My Sunshine Away

In Uncategorized on March 18, 2010 at 4:15 pm
As I sat down to write, I could not get “you are my sunshine, my only sunshine,” out of my head. This song written by Louisiana governor, Jimmie Davis, has become my constant soundtrack  whilst I write about Sunshine Week. 
 
Sunshine Week comes every year to promote the “national initiative to open a dialogue about the importance of open government and freedom of information.” Hey, isn’t that what social media does as well?
 
I figured the best place to start would be to google Sunshine Week, and ta-da, I found sunshineweek.org. This is a great source to find a lot of information about this national initiave. For example, you can find all of the headlines mentioning Sunshine Week, comments from President Obama about this week and different resources to help promote the week.
 
They also have some pretty sweet merchandise.
 
 
Also through their Web site, I found the Sunshine Week Facebook Page. This page is very informative complete with videos, notes, and general Sunshine Week information. They have about 400 fans, but I would love to see that number go up, even though the week is coming to an end.
 
After perusing sunshineweek.org, I decided to dig a little deeper in the web. I turned to tweetcongress.org to see what the members of Congress thought about all of this. Surprisingly, there was little buzz. What I found were two tweets from Texan Congressmen: Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Michael Burgess.
 
Sen. Cornyn was tweeting on behalf of himself and Sen. Patrick Leahy about legislation they introduced to commemorate this week and FOIA. He also released this info on his Facebook page where he was (mostly) applauded by his constituents for his efforts  and bipartisan cooperation. He also got 16 “likes”.
 
I think they both deserve some props for coming together on a bipartisan initiative especially this week. (Hint: two words, rhymes with kealth hare).
 
 
 

Keeps Facebook on my Mind

In Uncategorized on March 4, 2010 at 8:16 pm

My interview with Lauren Culbertson who’s in charge of communications and new media for Senator Johnny Isakson’s campaign:

What is the name of your position?
The way our office works, we don’t technically have titles, but I’m referred to as communications and new media.  

What does new media include? 
All of our emails, Twitter, Facebook, surveys polls; I handle any type of creative messaging through the Internet.

What does a day look like for you?
It really depends on what’s going on. Since I work for Johnny Isakson, when Congress is in recess I’m out of the office going with him wherever he’s going. I’ll go to events, like GOP breakfasts and dinners. When he’s in DC I spend the whole day in the office and still go to events but a lot of the time I’m monitoring what’s going on online. I  am always updating the Twitter and Facebook pages. A lot of the time its doing emails and recruiting new people for email list/updates. I also work to fundraise through new media.

Which social media outlets do you use most frequently? Which are the most effective? Least effective?
 I see the most response to the Facebook page. Compared to other senators, we actually have a pretty large following. I think it’s because of our demographic. Also, we started our Facebook page a while ago. Our Twitter is pretty new. I wouldn’t really say any of it is ineffective, but it is really hard to fundraise to through new media.

 How do you see new media changing the face of politics?
It’s making politics more personal. Ten years ago you wouldn’t have any idea or updates about what your senator is doing everyday. Now its different. Before you see something on a major news outlet, it’s already on Twitter. Social media is a great fit for politics because politics is so fast paced. It lets you get a message out in real-time.

Why do you think social media is becoming so popular for politicians? Why are they reaching out and embracing different outlets?
One is the pressure or competition. Getting involved is showing you’re keeping up with what’s going on. In our office, Senator Isakson was interested in how social media affected the 2008 Presidential race.  Scott Brown’s election especially peaked his interest.

Practically, it’s just another way to communicate with a constituent, and that’s a top priority for a member of congress. In Georgia, especially because we are geographically a large state, sometimes it’s harder to get around to all parts of the state. With new media, it helps us to be with the constituents even when we aren’t there. It’s the next best thing to face-to-face communication with a constituent.

Are there any down-sides to this development?
If you do social media right, it’s a great thing. However if you do it poorly it can be a really bad thing. In order to make it work it has to be a priority. Because if you screw it up, you can really screw it up.

For the constituents, what would you say is the best way to stay in-the-know about your congressperson using social media?
It really depends on the person. Twitter and Facebook have their own ways of delivering information, so you have to decide how you want to receive the information. But people thank us all the time for our Facebook page because it lets them know what Senator Isakson is doing.

Do you think that social media makes campaigning easier or harder? Easier as in being able to reach out to more people, or harder having one more thing to manage?  

It’s both. Even though it’s one more thing to do, and it’s a hard thing to do, in comparison to the benefits it has, developing new media is well worth it. It’s a net positive. Traditional campaigning without social media requires A LOT of money to reach out to a large amount of people. While it’s free to get a Facebook or Twitter page, it does cost money to staff and develop them, but it is definitely more cost-effective. It’s different from sending a press release or email, because now the constituents can comment and you can comment back.

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

In Uncategorized on February 17, 2010 at 3:49 pm

This past Monday, Feb 15,  2010, Sen. Evan Bayh D-IN announced he would NOT run for re-election in this upcoming year. The reason behind his shocking decision? Bahy inferred that DC is too cliquey. Or in more PC terms, completely devoid of bipartisan efforts. How bad has it gotten? According to a New York Times article, Bayh regards the system as “dysfunctional”.

Reacting the news, Joe Wilson R-SC took to Twitter to say: “Great news of Senator Bayh’s retirement, good prospects of change in Indiana has now become much brighter! I am happy for Hoosiers.”

Hm… maybe Bayh does have a point.
 
In recent years it does seem that the tug-of-war between the donkeys and elephants has gotten a little unruly. The two have even spread their fighting to the Internet. How fun for the political bloggers like myself.
 
Consider the drama following the Scott Brown win. Republicans took to their blogs/twitters/facebooks to offer their congratulations and maybe give a few stubtle jabs at the dems. Just look at Tom Ganley a republican currently running for the senate from Ohio. He posted a note on his Facebook to extend his, “personal congratulations to Scott”.
 
On a sidebar, it is equally interesting to note, Brown had a ton more followers/fans/group members  than Coakley on Twitter and FB, so maybe give social media a little credit in the win, eh.  
Across the ailse (or playground to beat that analogy to death) the dems are fighting back. Look at recent backlash about Tea Partier Sarah Palin after she wrote notes on her hand. Popular DC Gossip Blog Wonkette had this to say about it.
Flipping through Digg I found more Palin-bashing time. One was  an article on CNN.com added by Daily Beast columnist John Avlon  author of the new book, “Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America.” When reading be sure to appreciate the zingers.
Also, like the Wonkette article, Avlon also uses “folksy” to describe Palin, which leaves me asking the age old question: is folksy the new maverick!? Only time will tell.
While I obviously don’t approve of the animosity, I will say I’m impressed at the way that everyone on the political spectrum is pulling together to use social media as it continues to change the face of politics.
But until everyone calms down a little, hopefully we can take a hint from the Flight of the Conchords and find a tea party we can all enjoy:

Inside the Snowpocalypse

In Uncategorized on February 6, 2010 at 6:41 pm

When I came to DC, I was told it doesn’t snow… now I find myself in the middle of what is called a “historic” snowstorm. Being a veteran of hurricane preparations, I was not accustomed to the sheer hysteria expressed on this site: http://snowpocalypsedc.com/.

On Twitter there are three trending topics in the DC area about the storm, my favorite being #snowtoriousbig. Also Twitter has been my source for finding out where the best snowball fights are. The most happening spot right now is Dupont Circle where a snowball fight is occurring at 2 pm.

The federal government is also in full operation today, so another option could be to brave the snow and go to the Smithsonian.

I’m honestly surprised there is so much going on in the city today despite the grave names this blizzard is being called. I guess theres “snow” reason for me to be inside, haha.

The Capitol by Sarah Catherine Tunkle

State of the Internet

In Uncategorized on February 1, 2010 at 3:27 am

1/28/10

Yesterday, the Web was buzzing about President Obama’s  State of the Union Address. Starting as early as 9:30, both #SOTU and Union Address. Impressive, I know. World Wide only Union was trending.

As I continued looking around Twitter, I found some really hilarious posts. In the interest in keeping this brief, the winner of these was:”Anyone know where I can get a newborn onsie that says ‘You Lie!’?”

While the tweets about the Address continued throughout yesterday, last night and even today, unfortunately the tag #iTampon gained the top spot. C’mon America

Bopping around the blogosphere, I came across a message from GOP leader John Boehner. During the Address Boehner hosted a live blog. Why? Because according to the GOP Leader, “President Obama’s rhetoric is often detached from reality, so it’s important there be a place Americans can go to get the facts about his job-killing agenda.” Hm, try to yell that out during his speech.

Also in this press release is data showing repubs excessive use of social media, especially when compared to their liberal counter parts.

On Mashable.com, I discovered an article about how the White House will also be hosting a live blog during the SOTU. Maybe those staffers can collaborate with Boehner’s. They seem to have a lot in common.

But the social media frenzy continues, according to this post you can ask Obama a question and he’ll answer it on YouTube.

For those of you who were not as politically minded, Digg directed me to a great article by the Huffington Post. And yes, by article I mean hilarious drinking game. Though I did not participate, I have to say it is worth a read through.

The morning after the address (today), I searched Digg again to do a little follow up. Apparently a poll showed an 83% approval rating for the address. AND 615 Diggs for Obama to push for ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ repeal in SOTU (I was one of them.. I also tweeted about it).

Yet on Twitter, #iTampon is still in the lead…

Natural Disaster, Meet Social Media

In Uncategorized on January 22, 2010 at 3:04 am

Last Tuesday, Jan. 12, a 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti near its capital of Port-au-Prince. The devastation caused in its wake is nothing less than catastrophic.

In this time of dire need, social media is providing politicians, news organizations and even private citizens the means to inform, advocate and provide aid for those affected by this disaster. This situation is the perfect example of what social media is allowing us to do. Just a few years ago, the speed of information dissemination or even donations was exponentially slower because we lacked these incredible tools. I mean it wasn’t until two months after I was displaced by Hurricane Katrina that I had even heard of Facebook… let alone Twitter.

Doing some preliminary web browsing for this blog, I plugged in Haiti to a search in Google Trends. I found that before last Tuesday, Haiti was a little searched topic, making a minor spike in 2004 when President Bush announced he was sending troops in.

Continuing my skimming I decided to dig a little deeper and find the myriad of ways people are helping. I discovered three outlets that have stepped it up for this cause: YouTube, Twitter and Facebook.

YouTube

If some say a picture says a thousand words, how many does a video say? While we are all (mostly) guilty of primarily using YouTube as a source of humor, it really says a lot that this outlet is evolving into a more comprehensive and informational being. YouTube users have provided us with all sorts of videos about Haiti from shocking clips of human suffering to PSA announcements.

Have you seen CNN’s YouTube Channel?  Anderson Cooper’s valient attempts to help a small boy drenched in blood was unbelievable. I’m pretty sure just about everyone saw it judging by how many hits it had (224,514 in just two days). If you haven’t seen it here it is…

It doesn’t stop there. Public Service Announcement from current and former White House inhabitants further show the power of video. Michelle Obama is featured in a PSA pleading with the American people to help those in Haiti. Also Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton teamed up and released this video.

I’m really digging the bipartisanship on this issue, despite what Rush Limbaugh may say…


Twitter

Haiti may have broke the record for longest standing trending topic. It literally has not stopped trending since the actual event. Honestly, everyone from Ashton Kutcher to your hip aunt has been tweeting about Haiti. Yesterday around 7 pm I clicked on Haitiand within a minute there were 300 new tweets.

TweetCongress.org, my favorite site to track political tweets has been following the members of Congress tweeting it up about Haiti. @Senate Republicans gave some updates on what individual Senators have been doing. One such tweet was about Senator Thune urging support for Haitian adoptions. And while there aren’t as many dems on Twitter, those that are have something to say about Haiti. But what everyone in Congress is talking about today, despite your side of the aisle, is the legislation passed in the House allowing Haiti aid contributions to be tax deductible. Go team.

That being said, @RedCross is blowing up right now. Of the information out there, this organization has stepped their game up. Not only do they give updates on the conditions and donations, President Obama allegedly tweeted via their account (he pushed the button). What’s great about the Red Cross using Twitter is the information they give is short and quick (i.e. the purpose of Twitter), but still getting the point across quickly to a mass number of people, who then retweet it to even more people. Maybe that’s why Haiti has been trending for so long?

Facebook

Of the three types of social media, Facebook.com is the juggernaut of the clan. By that I mean it has the most stuff you can do with just one site. There are thousands of groups and pages with hundreds of thousands of members and fans all trying to show support for the victims of this tragedy. Not only that, but people are updating their statuses with information about how to use text messaging to donate to Haiti.

Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin wrote a note (quasi-blog post for Facebook) on her fan page about how to donate via text messaging. With 1,222,077 fans, only second to Barak Obama, her note was “liked” by over 12,000 people. That’s a lot of Facebookers to reach in one paragraph!

One Last Thought… DONATE!

Though it has been nine days since the earthquake it seems as though things may get worse before it gets better. On that note, its good to know that people still care. Do what you can by donating to the Red Cross efforts in Haiti by texting ‘Haiti’ to 90999. I know this is a blog about social media, but this is pretty important stuff.