German Election Voter Mobilization Videos


With only a bit more than a week to the German Bundestagswahl (federal elections), it’s time for a brief recap of the (supposedly viral) videos that have popped up over the last few weeks. Take this post as a starting point as it’s most certainly far from incomplete as of yet. Also, please take into consideration that very likely I saw more of these videos from one side of the political spectrum than the other.

The theme tying these videos together is basically: Every vote counts, so go vote, or you support some non-candidate or another.

Time permitting, I’ll be adding more videos as they’re coming in. Please let me know of others if you know them. Also, thanks to Thomas for a first collection. (I’m still thinking of putting all the US versions right next to them. Could be good fun.)


Super endorsements: Comic characters for Obama


Somewhat odd, but here you go: Comic character Savage Dragon endorses Obama, or so says the New York TimesThe Moment blog:

The celebrity endorsements have begun! Savage Dragon, a superhero and police officer whose adventures are published by Image Comics, is throwing his hat in the ring for Barack Obama. The news is blared across the cover of issue No. 137, with the green-skinned hero dressed up for the occasion in a black jacket, crisp white shirt and striped red tie.

Savage Dragon endorses Obama, img courtesy NYTimes / Copyright Erik Larsen Image: Copyright Erik Larsen

Do you know examples of other comic characters endorsing presidential candidates? Please share in the comments…

Please note: While I’m writing this, the Image Comics website website seems to be down and on the Savage Dragon site I couldn’t find a hint to any of this; however, I have no reason not to trust the NYTimes on this one.

ePolitics: What’s happening right now?


I’d like to give an overview over the whole ePolitics space, from online campaigning to e-participation. Of course, that’s hardly possible, so I’m not even going to try. (If you have such an overview, please share in the comments!) Instead, I’ll just point out some things, projects & news that have struck me as interesting lately.

Pew Internet: The Internet and the 2008 Election The Pew Internet & American Life Project has published a new report on The Internet and the 2008 Election (PDF here) which shows that video is gaining traction, and that Americans gather a fair amount of politics-related information online:

A record-breaking 46% of Americans have used the internet, email or cell phone text messaging to get news about the campaign, share their views and mobilize others. And Barack Obama’s backers have an edge in the online political environment.

In other words: The web is getting more important for political campaigns. Expect more to see during the U.S. elections. Personally, I’m interested in seeing the development from here to the next German federal elections in 2009.

Google: Public Policy Talks Google, too, is getting more and more into politics and how they’re changed by the internet. On their Public Policy Blog and in a corresponding series of talks (YouTube channel) they discuss the first 21st century campaign.

Transparency tools online A whole bunch of tools and web projects aimed at increasing transparency and fostering online dialog is being developed as I’m typing this. Ameritocracy (my review here) is one of them that has already launched, it’s a platform for collaborative fact-checking. Zilino is still in the making (launch probably this summer), but judging from what maker Tim has been telling me, it’s going to be pretty awesome. Zilino is on twitter and of course there’s a blog, too. Same goes for the Partnership for Public Participation (PfPP), that will develop a toolkit for e-participation. Simon has updates on the project’s progress and e-participation in general. (Full disclosure: Simon and I share an office.)

Mashups and other fun projects Different players, different approaches: A YouTube channel covers the role of Social Media and the 2008 US Presidential Election, a Google Maps mashup visualizes the 2008 US Primary Results. All the big players have their extra U.S. election pages, like Pageflakes, YouTube’s YouChoose 08 or Digg’s Digg The Candidates. SexyPolitics is proof that politics can be smart, yet sexy.

What else should be on this list? Please share, I’m curious!

Ameritocracy: Collaborative Fact-Checking


AmeritocracyIf there’s one thing the internet is pretty good at, then it must be crunching lots of info by having a lot of folks look at said info. Call it crowdsourcing or collaboration, if you need a great many eyes to look at stuff, and a lot of opinions, the web is the place to go. So here comes Ameritocracy, a community-based, collaborative fact-checking site.

How does it work? Users submit statements made by politicians, pundits and the like, other users (aka the community) puts in their two cents of background or opinion (hopefully facts, too) they have on those statements. A reputation system helps separate the wheat from the chaff.

As Ameritocracy describe it:

The core features of Ameritocracy are adding statements (made by a person or organization) and assessing statements. For example, if you hear Jane Doe say something on tv that you find questionable, you can submit that statement to the site to see what the community has to say about it, or you can add your own assessment. Members can then rate Jane Doe’s statement for credibility and relevancy, add their own assessments, or post a comment. From this, Jane Doe will develop a reputation based on the community ratings, and you and your sources will develop a positive reputation so long as no one identifies your submission as a misquote or deliberately inaccurate information. The goal is to get a few different perspectives for each statement, so anyone looking to know more about a statement can get a broader picture and make their own assessment.

Sounds like a solid plan to me. Any platform that helps bring more transparency into political processes can just be good. If it harnesses the intelligence of the network, all the better.

More info? IPDI‘s Julie Germany interviewed Ameritocracy co-founder Porter Bayne. The team behind Ameritocracy blogs and twitters, too.

(via Planblog)

Update: Want to check out Ameritocracy first hand? The Ameritrocracy team was so nice to provide my readers with a bunch of invites to the close beta. With the invite code “wavingcat” (one word, all lower case) you can sign up here.

German Blogosphere: No Political A-List Bloggers in Germany


So far, I haven’t mentioned on this weblog a whole lot about the masters thesis I’m writing. Partly because it didn’t seem to me to be interesting for external readers (that sounds wrong, doesn’t it?) you, partly because I’m simply not sure about the formal regulations surrounding the thesis: Is it allowed to publish any results before handing in the thesis? Anyway, there are a few thing I’d like to share at this point.

The thesis is about the relevance of weblogs for the work of political journalists in Germany.

During the last couple of weeks, I’ve had a bunch of interviews with German journalists. (Thanks for your help!) All of them work for major news outlets, some in newspapers, some in news agencies, but all of them in the politics department. (I won’t publish any names here.) As you know, I love blogs, and since you’re reading this I assume you do, too. But what about their real relevance for journalists? There have been a number of studies suggesting that the relevance of weblogs is increasing, and quickly so.

Just to name a few papers and studies that deal with weblogs in Germany in particular:

(The list is far from complete…)

While this may be true for a lot of topics, it doesn’t seem to hold up for political journalism, at least not in Germany. I haven’t analyzed the interviews in-depth yet. But from the conversations I had (and in which I learned a lot – thanks again!), it really seems that political weblogs in Germany don’t play an important role in terms of journalistic research.

Partly weblogs aren’t considered credible enough a source, or it’s too much commentary and not enough facts. Partly there seems to be a generational gap, although I’ve seen some clear exceptions to that rule. But from all the things I learned, the point that struck me is:

There is no political A-List blogger in Germany.

First I was kind of shocked when I heard it, but if you think about it, it’s actually true. For commentary on U.S. politics, we have the usual suspects from DailyKos to Instapundit. So these are read by political journalists – not necessarily for research, but to keep an eye on what’s going on out there. But in Germany, who’s there? I couldn’t name single blog that’s primarily political. that deals mainly with politics and has a significant reach.

(There’s a number of blogs that deal with special niches of politics: for digital rights, for copyright,’s Metablocker for e-government. Also, there are a few amazing media watchblogs like the amazing BILDblog, which are widely read among journalists and non-journalists alike.)

So what’s the issue with Germans and political blogging?

The German blogosphere is massively behind compared to the U.S. and Japan, but also compared to our neighbor France. April 2007’s State of the Blogosphere lists about 1 per cent of all blog posts as German. Not a whole lot, obviously, for a big European country. (France scored 2 per cent at the same time, Italy 3 per cent.)

Occasionally you hear a cultural argument, which comes in two flavors: First, with the healthy and diverse media landscape in Germany, there was no urgent need to develop alternative channels for publication. “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it”, says a developer truism. This may well be the case. (However, it doesn’t take into account the social aspects that drive many bloggers.) Second, traditionally people tend not to talk openly about politics in Germany. It used to be considered a private and somewhat delicate matter. While in the States it’s pretty common to talk about politics with strangers, in Germany it used to be that most people wouldn’t even disclose what political party they support. “When you’re invited for dinner in Germany, avoid politics”, was the rule of thumb put forward in many travel guides. This is changing as a new and more open, more globalized generation grows up.

So back to political journalism and weblogs: It seemed to me that many journalists – particularly the younger, more tech-savvy ones – would be quite willing to rely more on weblogs. If there just were any. If there were more original facts, and savvy, smart political commentary, and maybe even some insider-slash-background information, the German political blogosphere would be much more healthy. And those bloggers would get all the exposure they could wish for through mainstream media.

But so far, there’s no one in sight. Maybe the U.S. presidential elections and the German elections on state level (08) and federal level (09) will change this? There’s a big opportunity. What are you waiting for?

Election campaign videos: Obama campaign goes for video, big time


With videos being considered the hot stuff (or was it social networking, or SMS campaigns? oh well…) for the ongoing election U.S. campaigns, Obama Girl’s I got a crush on Obama was probably the one that stuck out most in terms of coverage. (Hillary Clinton’s song picking contest and Soprano Spoof were far out, too, of course.)

The Obama Girl video, as well as the video above (Debate ’08: Obama Girl vs Giuliani Girl) were produced by I have to admit I’m somewhat torn between mourning the decline of political debate and being delighted by taking a fresh approach to politics in general and campaigning in particular. It’s a bit like a quick summary of pros and cons of the candidates. Very quick, that is, and of course from a pro-Obama point of view. Like a video version of the good old campaigning argument collections you get to defend your candidate against your neighbor, sort of.

I’m curious about how this space is going to develop in the upcoming months. Can I has the next candidate video, pleeze?