lunes, 13 de abril de 2009

The true click in history

Traducción al inglés del artículo publicado en Revista Debate.

The true click in history

The campaign that took Barack Obama to the White House marked a before and after in the history of political communication. The use of the Internet as a weapon for citizen participation, converting it into the principal mode of communication with and between users (voters) allowed him to obtain exceptional results.

In Argentina the fascination produced by this phenomenon didn’t help to identify Obama’s true digital strategy – his axis- and now that attempts to copy it have rapidly followed suit a la youtubeesque which had one of its star performances on that video site, but not the real brains of the team. Facebook, You Tube, My Space and Twitter were the highlighted goal scorers which occupied the front pages of Monday’s newspaper but the player that served up the winning pass has been completed overlooked by the cameras.

This is why understanding which were the true landmarks and virtues of Obama’s digital strategy should be the first step in the rush to imitate his success.

A numerous digital team conducted by David Plouffe and consisting of a multidisciplinary staff, with a large investment of millions of dollars and over two years work gave rise to this historic click. It wasn’t just the enthusiasm of a good number of people nor the decision to bet on new techniques but the arduous graft, immense resources (and priorizing the investment in these new media) and a strategy that began two years prior to the election day.

Obama was not the first candidate to use the Internet to receive donations or to connect with the electorate. But he was the first to create a strategy that integrated existing media to communicate a simple and concise message (Change and Yes We Can) in order to meet his objectives. He understood above all else that Internet should be a media channel to motivate an electorate to enter into action and to help him on his campaign trail, organizing it.

That is why his digital team created the a key campaign axis tool: MyBo (My Barack Obama). This space – inside the campaign website – enabled the registration of people that wished to be a part of the project and from there organized them to make the change possible.

MyBo reunited more than a million individuals that interacted online, sharing ideas, receiving news and campaign updates, seeing before anyone else the campaign TV spots and commenting on them, creating their own support blogs and receiving messages directly from Obama in their e-mail. Over and above all this it brought them together in face to face dialogue. Via this tool they were invited to meetings in nearby locations, events and campaign activities. John lives close to your home and is interested in collaborating with the campaign; why not meet up and invite five more from the neighborhood?

Starting with the premise that this campaign is about you and your capacity to change things the most important collective force in the history of campaigning was created. In this form a multitude of followers that worked on the campaign became the first world army of digital militants.

In addition the campaign raised 750 million dollars from among four million individual donors, the greatest amount ever in American history. This tripled the sum raised by the Republican rival John McCain. Obama harvested more than 3 million “friends” on Facebook and today that figure is now over 6 million. He was present everywhere (Obama everywhere) people congregated, open to dialogue in the multiple social networks.

Today, now in Government, Obama’s digital strategy continues on course. The launch of a site that allows one to follow by the instant the destination of the anti-crisis funds or the recent space created inside the White House ( to receive questions that will be answered by Obama (who now has more than 100 thousand queries) are just a few of the examples. In addition from his personal site the President is promoting political participation. He invites the American people to call their Congress representatives to support his legislative proposals.

In Argentina, until now the digital activity of the candidates starts just a few months prior to the elections and finalizes on the day they are elected. They do not promote a dialogue but rather a unidirectional message. They are still a long way away from taking advantage of the potential of a network that across the country now unites over 15 million people.

What are you doing?

Traducción al inglés del artículo publicado en Revista Debate.

The before and after Twitter in Internet
What are you doing?

Although it’s just three years old it’s been able to talk since birth on the 21st of March 2006. Everything that it says is announced in short phrases but without taking a breath from talking every second. Sometimes you can understand it, or else, quite simply at times nobody is listening – but it continues trying to capture your attention.

This creature is called Twitter, the largest free micro blogging service that allows users to send micro entries or tweets (messages of up to 140 characters) that can be read by one’s followers and that has marked a before and after in the history of Internet. The creation of Jack Dorsey, a 35 year old entrepreneur, is a mixture between a blog and a chat room as defined by David Pogue a columnist for The New York Times.

Twitter is today one of the fantastic four of the Web and is confronting the other giants face to face.

It has just seven million users which is not a lot compared with the number registered on Facebook which now exceeds 150 million. The reasons can perhaps be found not just in the time to maturity of both services but rather in their functionalities.

Facebook invites you to search for your friends, make new ones and to entertain yourself playing games and sharing photos of your weekend with friends among other things. It’s a tool designed to enter into contact with a social world that accompanies us in our real lives off screen. Meanwhile Twitter was not born as a direct competitor of the “traditional” social networks and is more precise.

What are you doing? This is the fundamental question that motivates users to tell one another what they are doing every second. That’s why being on and being read on Twitter (if not, why?) means three things: being dedicated, considering that we have something important to say, and being in the mood to socialize about it with more people than in one’s personal social context.
But being massive, although it may seem paradoxical to describe as non-massive a service used by more than eight million people, is not everything. Over and above its growing but reduced popularity Twitter is now worrying Facebook that only recently renovated its design to appear more like this service. This concern has been born from the time consumed by users in one tool or another and from the competition that converts all websites in direct competitors of one another, even though their metier is completely different. This is the battle for time of permanence on a website.

Facebook, noting that many of their users have started to use Twitter for a function that their platform has contemplated but never strongly promoted has changed their design. Now, one of the biggest social networks in the world invites one to respond to the question “What are you thinking?” Just a little semantic nuance so as not to be too obvious.

But Twitter is not just providing battle on the social networks front.

Many users are approaching as passive members of the tool, to listen in and to find out what other people are doing, not only the rich and famous but those with a more interesting life, politicians or clubs or even to find out what people are saying about those new running shoes with the three stripes that they were thinking about buying. And from the inclusion of a simple search button inside the tool Twitter has now become a powerful new search engine. To find out whatever we wish we now have a service which is more specific and direct than even Google. So we might also say Twitter versus Google.

More than 650,000 people follow minute by minute the presidential life of Obama, almost the same number that is attentive to the comings and goings of Britney Spears or the anecdotes of the NBA basketball star Shaquille O’Neill. Ghost writers, people that write in the name of others tweet in their name. Except of course in the case of the Shaq, “its just 140 characters. If you need a ghost writer for that I feel sorry for you” argues the giant.
But everything is not pure optimism.

There is a risk that Twitter becomes a media channel with an empty audience, consuming and following so many tweeters one can easily miss out on the main announcements of each and every one of them. A common practice at the moment of capturing more and more followers is to follow others. As a grateful response we find that many of those that we follow decide to follow us in turn. It is considered good protocol. For example, if you decided to follow 1,500 people you would literally need to dedicate the entire day to Twitter in order not to miss out on everything they write about. Here is the real danger, that we create a media channel with thousands of readers that in reality don’t read us.

Twitter is the most important launch in Internet in recent years based on its repercussion and fame and has only 27 employees, something not unusual in these times of the second industrial revolution that has replaced man with software.

Neither is it a contradiction in this world in which we have become accustomed that Twitter is not yet a viable business.

Over and above the global crisis that is hammering the stock quotations of Internet companies, their investors have stated that they are not concerned about when Twitter will start making money and have even rejected a buyout offer from Facebook valued at $500 million.

Internet es un mundo impune

El miércoles 8 de abril el Diario Clarín publicó un artículo que escribí sobre la impunidad en Internet, la posibilidad que ofrece a quienes desean ensuciar la reputación de una persona.

Para leerla online: .

lunes, 6 de abril de 2009

¿Qué estás haciendo?

Un artículo que escribí para la Revista Debate sobre Twitter.

Para leerla comprá la revista o hacé clic aquí:

miércoles, 1 de abril de 2009

Show me the money!

Artículo publicado en El Cronista traducido al inglés.

The crisis of the newspapers in Internet

Show me the money!

In the movie “Jerry Maguire” an American football player screams in defiance at his representative with a very clear premise: “Show me the money!” The success and the adulation of his fans are not enough to conform this sportsman, who feels himself worthless unless he has millions in his bank account.

While visitors to the online versions of newspapers are multiplying, the time spent online and the involvement of users grows and the news is everyday a more highly valued asset (although unpaid), the digital newspapers begin to ask themselves that very same question. All very well but, “where’s the money?

The business model of the online newspapers just like that of the major part of the Web industry is to provide their content for free. The content is freely consulted by millions of users and the income from advertising is responsible for resolving the equation.

This is the reason for much concern about a model that still hasn’t taken off and the fear that has been brought about by the recent crisis. To charge or not to charge for digital content, and in what form to do so, that is the question.

Jeff Segal analyses this subject in an article published in the Madrid newspaper El País. In the article he affirms that “today everyone has a plan to save the press”. While many defend the current 100% free system with the conviction that advertising investment will grow sufficiently to cover the media’s needs, others assure that the model to follow is that of iTunes that charges small amounts for specific information content, or alternatively that of paid subscriptions.

A study realized by The Bivings Group has shown that the online newspapers in the U.S that require a prior registration (totally free but with the requirement of some minimal personal data and an e-mail address) have diminished from 29% to 11% in the past year. An ample majority of readers, when confronted with a minimum registration requirement, prefer to switch news provider and as a consequence the news media have chosen to lift their restrictions.

If The New York Times (whose online version represents just 12% of its total sales) should decide to charge its users just one cent to find out what Obama said in his speech to Congress, and the New York Post offers the same information for free the migration would be instantaneous. It is an impossible mission to convince somebody who has always received a service for free to now pay for it, especially if our competitor is offering the same or a very similar product totally free.

The possibility of the media grouping together and starting to charge simultaneously for their content would avoid this “unfair competition” but this doesn’t appear to be an easy path to follow.

Somewhat different is the case for specialized content. The Wall Street Journal for example earns € 92 million annually from online subscribers of its financial coverage. This would appear to indicate that in the case of detailed content, well differentiated from that offered by the competition (for example the economics column by Paul Krugman), that readers are prepared to pay.

Even so, the vast majority of the media with specialized content continue to offer everything in exchange for nothing. The technology magazine Wired, the most popular in the U.S, can be read in its entirety from their web site without paying a single cent.

The written press is going through perhaps the most critical period in its history. The News Corp group, owner of The Sun, New York Post & The Wall Street Journal has announced record losses of $6,400 million in the last quarter of 2008. And Internet, which grew up as a solution, is at least for now part of the problem.

While the online audience and consumers of news content continue to grow, the only thing that still needs to be found is the money.