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By C. Antonio Romero

SAN FRANCISCO, 18 AUGUST 2008 -The Obama campaign has once again demonstrated their media savvy with the recently announced plan to announce the Democratic Vice Presidential candidate pick using text messages to the cell phones of the faithful.

At first it sounds like a cheap gimmick to look all "Web 2.0" and connect with the kids and stuff - and, frankly, it is. The obvious spin is that Obama gets to bypass the "mainstream media" and connect to his supporters directly with his major announcement - along with a lot of others who will sign up just out of curiosity. This is the "cheap gimmick" part. (Although a cheaper gimmick would simply have been to make his announcement via Twitter, or to change his Relationship status on Facebook.)

But dig into this idea a little more and its brilliance becomes apparent: Barack Obama gets his supporters to volunteer their cell phone numbers (which have traditionally been off-limits for telemarketers). He can use these to contact them to spread viral messages, deliver voter registration reminders and orchestrate get-out-the-vote efforts on Election Day. Assuming he wins the election, he can even appeal to subscribers to flood Capitol Hill with messages supporting his causes.

And, more importantly, the Obama campaign can run instant fund-raising appeals using this database: "Text 'give 10' to 62262 to donate $10 to the Obama campaign." Which is where the real Web 2.0 smarts come in - Barack Obama may well have figured out how to monetize a database of users without running ads and without selling them anything (unless you think of Obama himself as the product).

McCain's people could never have come up with this, notwithstanding his speechwriters' apparently recent discovery of Wikipedia - probably the result of their having looked up Georgia in "the Google."

C. Antonio Romero is the Nouveau and Technology editor of He last wrote on Hyperion Nuclear Batteries: Clean Power from Underground.

External Links

Obama Campaign Website

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