Politico offers a detailed story on the Web 2.0 advantage for Team Obama on his re-election effort. It’s the New New Thing as you’d expect with the Internet Revolution . . . which is getting to be the Old Old Thing by now, isn’t it? Everything in the story sounds good until you read this about that and the Obama campaign.
Hired a number of nonpolitical tech innovators, software engineers and statisticians. “It has been incredibly freeing, because all election campaigns are a slave to history, and the history here is just nonexistent,” says Obama campaign manager Jim Messina. “So, we’ve been able to kind of reinvent it.”
So. You’re running for political office and you hire a bunch of . . . nonpolitical types? That’s an interesting zig on the zag. And, of course, engineers and statisticians. Yeah, they’re pretty hip to the whole political thing, aren’t they? And best of all since no one knows anything about politics past, no one is a slave to history. Let’s reinvent politics with the Ghost of Politics Yet To Come!
If you have any experience running things where failure actually hurts, just this one quotation from the story is enough to pucker you up nice and tight. Political campaigning is an old and establish field of human effort and we’ve got Team Obama acting like they can turn it into the New New Thing, a reinvented Future. Good luck with that. But, this sounds great in the way my Rule tests:
There’s a Difference between Persuasion and Smoke and Mirrors; with Persuasion the Illusion Lingers.
If Obama 2.0 as described here wins re-election then we’re clearly looking at Persuasion. But, right now it sounds like the Smoke and Mirrors all the VC and early investors at Facebook threw up in front of that IPO. They got theirs but at the expense of everyone else in a fabulous display of Smoke and Mirrors. All our illusions are gone with Facebook. Yet, this is exactly the kind of Web 2.0 operation that Politico says Team Obama is running.
Got a question. How will anyone, including Team Obama, know that Obama Politics 2.0 made a decisive persuasion difference? I’m not talking about that Fairy Tale scientific science made famous at the Harvard School of Public Health, but real science which shows a real difference. Is anyone at Team Obama running even A-B marketing tests with this 2.0 effort? Got a process model (an Obama Standard Model) linked to behavior outcomes like voter registration, dollar donations, or volunteer lists? Merely winning the election is Fairy Tale evidence of effect here.
And, for us as outside observers, how can we evaluate this proprietary 2.0 operation without access to their internal data? Again, winning the election is hardly decisive evidence. It’s the same problem with all the persuasion Smoke and Mirrors we’re getting about Web 2.0 and Big Data with lots of engineers, statisticians, and newbies who know nothing about the past, all eager to invent the Yet To Come.
I’ve argued that none of these guys have created a decisive new and fundamentally different persuasion engine with the Social Web. Just look at the lousy ads that run on Google and Facebook. They reek with rigidity, stink with boredom, and smell of desperation. All that hardware and software; all those engineers and statisticians; and what do you get?
I was recently in western North Carolina on a mountain vacation and my wireless tablet (Xoom, great device) got highly targeted ads . . . inviting me to become a nurse at a Georgia hospital just across the state line. This is an Android device that has my Google account and the best ad they can hit me with is a nursing job in Georgia? I’ve been on Google since some people thought they were Goggle and furthermore Google knows every website I’ve hit since the Earth was still cooling. They’ve even got the Persuasion Blog on the Google FeedBurner. Yeah. I’m kinda into health. Yeah. Former scientific administrator in the CDC. How about nursing? You’ve got to be kidding me. They couldn’t even tell that I was merely traveling near Georgia? This is the best Big Data and Web 2.0 can do?
If Websters of 2.0 had a smoking persuasion engine, you’d see it in the ads in front of your face, and in sales data and bottom lines. The imagined persuasion advantages of the always on and always watching you Internet should lead to obvious and decisive behavior change that is easily monetized. Show me the money!
The Internet successes like Google or Amazon earned that success with proven business tactics like killing the competition and protecting patents. They have shown no obvious and new persuasion plays based on Web 2.0 combined with Big Data and all those propeller head grad students.
Now, Team Obama is ripping a page from this digital playbook and offering it as an inside look at the Cool Table for Obama 2.0. Persuasion is always and only about Changing the Other Guy and nothing else. So far, nothing in Web 2.0, even when combined with Big Data, persuades me that it is persuasive.
Right now, June 2012, things do not look good for Mr. Obama’s re-election. Assuming the world keeps turning as it is, Mr. Obama should lose in November. If instead he wins under these bad conditions, I might consider that as evidence of Persuasion 2.0.