Tag: obama

Startup America Partnership: Obama administration plans to support entrepreneurs and accelerate startup activity

Unfortunately, ARRA efforts didn’t seem to focus much on entrepreneurs or the startup scene. Until now. Yesterday, Obama introduced the Startup America Partnership.

When President Barack Obama took office, one of his first challenges was the United States economy and its veritable freefall. To an effort to slow that downward spiral, he signed into law the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), a program designed to fund—and you would have heard this term 10,000 times by now—“shovel ready” projects that could help bolster the US economy.

For many—myopically disposed or not—the tech startup scene seemed to hold hold any number of said projects with the potential to positively effect both job creation and wealth creation. Unfortunately, government efforts didn’t seem to focus much on that aspect of the economy. Until now. Yesterday, Obama introduced the Startup America Partnership. Read More

memePDX 013: Ignite Portland 7, Back Fence PDX, Supercomputing 2009, ccSync, Tim O’Reilly, Wikipedia, and Obama has never tweeted

This week, Cami Kaos and I talk about Ignite Portland 7 and Backfence PDX on the same night, Supercomputing 2009, ccSync, Tim O’Reilly on the war for the Web, Wikipedia’s annual fund drive, and Obama has never tweeted. And of course, get well soon to MetaFilter’s Matt Haughey.

Well, well, well. It’s another Thursday. Kinda. And that means it’s time for another episode of memePDX. Lucky number 13, in fact.

So what did we cover? Well, a whole bunch of stuff. But we’ve got one favor to ask. Just pretend it’s Thursday, pre-Ignite Portland and pre-Back Fence PDX. Okay? Okay.

This week, Cami Kaos and I talk about Ignite Portland 7 and Backfence PDX on the same night, Supercomputing 2009, ccSync, Tim O’Reilly on the war for the Web, Wikipedia’s annual fund drive, and Obama has never tweeted. And of course, get well soon to MetaFilter’s Matt Haughey. Read More

John Kitzhaber takes a page from the Obama social media playbook for Oregon gubernatorial bid

[HTML2]Former Oregon governor John Kitzhaber, who served two terms from 1995-2003, has decided to throw his hat into the ring for another gubernatorial bid. His Kitzhaber 2010 campaign launched this week.

And even though he hasn’t been out of the political dance that long, quite a few things have changed since his last bid—roughly a decade ago.

I mean, you might remember that Obama guy and his whole social media thing. Based on the initial rumblings from Kitzhaber camp, I can guarantee that the folks working on his campaign do. Read More

Obama Twitter faux pas: Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley causing Threadless’ Jeffrey Kalmikoff fits

A technical glitch with an incorrect Twitter name seems to have Obama healthcare proponents from Oregon spamming Jeffrey Kalmikoff of Threadless with misdirected tweets intended for Jeff Merkley

[HTML3]Now, it’s no secret that the Barack Obama campaign did a phenomenal job with social media. Facebook, Portland-fueled iPhone apps, Twitter, the whole shooting match. Many—myself included—were in awe of the Obama campaign’s mastery of social media—and the potential it held for the presidency.

Well, we were. Until today. When a technical glitch seems to have Obama healthcare proponents from Oregon spamming Jeffrey Kalmikoff of Threadless with misdirected tweets intended for Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley.

Oopie. Read More

Chatting with InnoTech keynote Rahaf Harfoush about Obama’s use of social media

Rahaf Harfoush (c) Jesse Morgan. Used with permissionThis Thursday, Rahaf Harfoush, Associate Director of the Global Cooperation Initiative at the World Economic Forum and part of the Obama campaign‘s social media team, will deliver the keynote for InnoTech, one of the Silicon Forest’s premier business and technology innovation conferences.

The keynote will be a great opportunity to hear Rahaf’s insights into how the Obama campaign embraced social media to affect political change—and will likely cause you to reassess your use of social media. No doubt, her talk will also include an early glimpse of some of the themes she’ll approach in Yes We Did: An Inside Look at How Social Media Built the Obama Brand, her upcoming book.

I had the opportunity to send Rahaf a few questions ahead of her arrival, and she was kind enough to take some time to answer. Here’s what we covered:

How did you get started in social media?

I have always loved technology. I guess I inherited it from my dad who is an avid science fiction junkie and technology always seems to represent unlimited potential and opportunity. I’m fascinated by how we use the web to interact and collaborate with each other. I love people and I love information and social media is the perfect combination of the two.

I don’t really remember when I got into social media, but I do remember it was before we called it social media. 😉

What brought you to the Obama campaign?

I was on the research and writing team for Don Tapscott’s book Grown Up Digital, and I was responsible for gathering research on technology, young people and the political process. My research took me to the very talented Chris Hughes, Obama’s Director of Internal Organizing who was designing a social network for the campaign.

I interviewed him and we hit it off. I was really inspired by what they were doing in Chicago and asked Chris if there was anyway that I could help. One thing led to another and I went down to Chicago for the last few months of the campaign as a full time volunteer. It was an awesome, empowering, thrilling experience.

Prior to your efforts, the strongest US online political campaign was championed by supporters of Howard Dean. What, if anything, did you learn from Dean’s efforts that informed the Obama campaign?

I think the Obama campaign heavily refined a lot of the strategies initially pioneered by Dean.

Dean was the first to use social networks (like Meetup) to organize supporters and start building the beginning of an online campaign infrastructure. He was also one of the first to experiment with online donations, particularly small amount donations.

The one main thing the campaign built on was the need for all of that online organizing to translate into offline action. This was where Dean’s campaign faltered, online enthusiasm did not turn into tangible votes or on-the-ground support.

Ultimately, everything the Obama campaign did online reinforced the need for offline organizing. Blog posts, contests, house parties, canvassing events the emphasis was always on getting supporters to get out of their house and into their communities on behalf of Barack.

(Prefacing this with the fact that a bunch of Portland people were essential to the development of the Obama iPhone app… 😉 ) In your opinion, what was the most unique use of social media in the Obama campaign?

Even if I didn’t know that, I would have to say the iPhone application. It was an extremely innovative foray into the yet untapped area of mobility. It effectively turned every iPhone into a fully functional field office. It allowed the campaign to stay connected to supporters in a very intimate way and ensured that they received the most up to date information.

That is very powerful to me. I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface on what we can do with mobile.

If I had to pick a favorite social network for Portland, it would be Twitter, hands down. In both your work for the World Economic Forum and your personal life, within which social media site(s) do you find yourself most comfortable/engaged?

Twitter is my favorite too! [Editor: She’s @rahafharfoush.] I love my twitter community and I always find myself going to them for their opinions and advice.

For example, some people at the Forum were interested in identifying some thought leaders in particular industries. I asked my Twitter community and within minutes and over fifteen names of experts that had come recommended by people I trust and respect. You just can’t beat the speed or quality of information.

I am weary of this sudden mainstream appeal of Twitter, particularly those people that focus only on the number of followers. For me, it’s all about meaningful conversations. I’d take that over a big crowd any day!

Finally, a softball. I know you love to travel and explore. Have you been to Portland before? What would you like to experience while you’re in town?

I have never been to Portland before! I heard you have a beautiful waterfront. If the weather cooperates I would love to sit in a nice café with my new kindle and catch up on some reading and relax.

Thanks, again, to Rahaf for taking the time to provide those responses. I’ll be looking forward to seeing her speak on Thursday. If you’d like to join me, please register to attend InnoTech, this Wednesday and Thursday.

(Photo credit: Jesse Morgan. Used with permission.)


iPhorest: New iPhone app launching at TED has Portland connection

iPhorestIf you’re in Portland and involved in a the Web and mobile startup scene, any mention of “iPhone” is usually immediately followed by a mention of “Raven Zachary.”

Portland isn’t alone in that regard, the iPhone consultant—who helped create iPhoneDevCamp before there was even such a thing as iPhone development—has seen more and more attention for his services as the burgeoning iPhone market has come into being.

And it’s thanks in no small part to his involvement in a little iPhone that played a role in putting Barack Obama in office. The other part is that he’s one of the most intelligent and well-spoken people I know. And of course the final part is that he’s one of the nicest guys you’ll get the chance to meet.

Well, now Raven has his hand in another app that’s sure to increase the iPhone limelight for him. Meet iPhorest, a new iPhone app launching this week at TED, the premiere “cool leading edge technology thinking and stuff” conference.

Raven Zachary on iPhorest

And Raven isn’t the only one excited about it. There’s this guy you may have heard of named Kevin Rose who told his 98,700 (and counting) Twitter followers about it.

Kevin Rose on iPhorest

And then there’s Ashton Kutcher’s wife. She likes it, too.

Demi Moore on iPhorest

It’s clear that iPhorest is on to something.

What’s not so clear is exactly what iPhorest does—since it’s not yet available in the App Store. But it has something to do with planting trees. On the iPhone.

By downloading the app, the user activates a seedling both virtually and physically. As the seedling on their phone grows, users can also send seeds to other phones, starting a new forest.

For each virtual tree planted, The Conservation Fund will plant a native tree in real life – starting with restoration of vulnerable wildlife habitats along the Gulf Coast. They will work with the nation’s leading public natural resource agencies to ensure the long-term protection of each iPhorest.

iPhones and sustainability? What could be more Portland-y than that? [UPDATE] More Portland people of course! Raven adds:

The lead developer and designer, Andrew Pouliot @andpoul, is in Portland, as is the 3D modeler, Alex Jetter. Thanks to Bram Pitoyo for the recommendation for Alex.

It’s a very cool concept. I’m looking forward to getting the opportunity to test drive it—and help a few flowers bloom trees grow.

As soon as I know more, you’ll know more. But I wanted to congratulate Raven on iPhorest as soon as I could.

Versionista exposes wiki-like views of edits for any site

You may remember Portland-based Versionista from last year, when they stepped into the limelight as the McCain camp used the tool to highlight recent changes to the Obama campaign site.

Now, they’re allowing Web site owners to expose those changes, themselves, with a new service that provides the date of the last change and highlights the content that has been revised.

This feature is particularly useful for Webmasters who wish to offer full edit transparency to viewers. By inserting a simple JavaScript snippet, any tracked Web page will automatically include the date of the last edit, and a link to the revision history of that document.

Here’s an example using Silicon Florist’s recent changes.

It seems appropriate that the town known for its wikis—and home to the father of the wiki, Ward Cunningham—is home to a service inspired by the wiki view of recent changes. Even if you don’t let your readers edit your site, it’s always nice to let them know what you’ve changed.

To test drive this feature or to add it to your site, visit Versionista.

Obama for iPhone: Portland plays a huge role in mobile app development

McCain may have invented the Blackberry, but today Obama owns the iPhone. Thanks to a team of talented developers—half of whom are here in Portland.

Obama ’08 is your official, comprehensive connection to the heart of Barack Obama and Joe Biden’s campaign, giving you the tools you need to make an impact and stay in the know.

Making a difference takes only moments using the Call a Friend feature. Want to do more? Find your local Obama for America HQ or look up local campaign events.

Creating this politically savvy iPhone app was a wholly volunteer effort. An effort that featured five Portland folks on the team: Raven Zachary, Jason Grigsby, Lyza Danger Gardner, John Keith, and Aileen Jeffries.

Aside from being beautiful, it’s a feature rich application designed to get individuals more involved in the political process. (In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if the opponents of the Obama campaign rival the proponents in downloads.)

The application has a “Call Your Friends” tool that helps you organize your contacts by key battleground states — a feature we’re hoping will generate thousands of additional personal contacts. You can also easily mark reminder notes to yourself on which friends you have called, who they are supporting and who wants a reminder call on Election Day. The information does not leave your phone (so your friends’ and your own privacy are protected) but the total amount of calls the application makes are tallied, so you can keep track of your progress as we close in on November 4th.

As Grigsby says on the Cloud Four blog:

Leaving politics aside for the moment, it’s a pretty impressive display of what is possible using the iPhone and iPod Touch platform.

[UPDATE] I just heard that the Obama ’08 for iPhone folks will be holding a launch party for the app during the next presidential debates. Head on over to the Mission Theater on Tuesday, October 7 to congratulate the team and watch some politicking. To RSVP, see the Obama ’08 iPhone App Launch Party and Presidential Debate Party on Upcoming.

Is Portland beginning to take center stage in mobile app development?

So yes, the app is super cool. (And if you agree, you may want to digg it.) But, I think—in my Silicon-Forest-centric frame of mind—that’s not the only cool thing happening in this story.

There’s something else that’s going on here. And when I say “here,” I literally mean here.

While the application is an impressive feat for a volunteer effort (or any effort for that matter) what I think may be even more interesting—and Zachary, arguably the premiere consultant for all things iPhone, agrees—is the underlying story about mobile app development in general—a development effort that, more and more, seems to be centered around talent right here in the Silicon Forest.

“This speaks to a growing trend in Portland toward mobile app development,” said Zachary. “We’ve really got something starting here.”

Grigsby echoes a similar sentiment about the creation of the Obama iPhone app:

I’m terribly proud of this application. I’m also honored to have been part of making it happen. It’s not simply that we built something that we believe will empower people to bring change to Washington, but it is also the fact that we assembled an exceptional team.

As does, Gardner:

The amount of energy that went into this was fun to be around. Raven Zachary and Jason Grigsby’s strategy genius, Jonathan Wight’s very powerful development fu, Mike Lee and Tristan O’Tierney’s hacking support, Louie Manta’s visual-zing-wow aesthetics, Aileen Jeffries and John Keith’s many-faceted support, and Dom Sagolla’s tireless testing work. Phew. That’s the lot of us.

We all hear, time and time again, how mobile is the next big thing. Wouldn’t it be nice if that big thing were happening right here in Portland?

I think it would. And I think it has the potential to happen.

And with efforts like this—and the growing ranks of mobile developers here in town—I’d say we’re well on our way.

Congratulations to the whole team—but especially the Portland folks—on launching an amazing app that’s sure to step on to a national, if not worldwide, stage.

For more, visit the Obama iPhone app page or to download it for yourself, head over to the App Store.

Versionista: Track changes for any Web page, wiki-highlight style

Sometimes, I get scooped. I admit it. I’m not always on the “breaking news” ball. This is one of those occasions.

A few weeks back, I saw news on Versionista, a tool that allows you to track the changes that occur on publicly accessible Web pages. It seems that the McCain camp had used the product to track changes on the Obama site:

The McCain campaign web site recently published a link to a Versionista comparison that shows changes to Obama’s web page about the Iraq war. The link, which is captioned “Obama Refines His Iraq Page”, is posted alongside other links which point to off-site articles written by various political commentators who are critical of Obama. The aim is obviously to generate the perception that Obama’s position on the war is inconsistent.

While the technology was exceptionally cool—much like change trackers I used to use back in the dotcom days—there was one thing that piqued my interest even more than the technology. Versionista is from Portland, Oregon.

Versionista was inspired by the highlighting that occurs when wiki pages are edited:

A side-by-side comparison and multiple other views let you see “before and after” versions of every monitored page. We highlight what text has been added, deleted, or moved. Versionista will keep up to 25 versions per page. You can “rollback” in time to see older versions.

The Versionista service allows you to test drive the system with two URLs. Or you can subscribe to begin tracking multiple URLs.

The pricing is aggressive for hobbyists—the lowest-level subscription runs about $200 a year for 30 URLs—but for professionals who desperately need this type of “what changed when” functionality on a limited basis, the pricing shouldn’t be too terribly oppressive. Power users can track up to 2,500 URLs for $6,000 a year.

So what about exploiting the service? I knew you’d think about that, because you’re a smart cookie.

Versionista is pretty clear about what you can and can’t do in their EULA (which, incidentally, is the second URL I’m currently tracking, in addition to the Silicon Florist URL):


I know a number of breaking-news bloggers who have been begging for a service like this. You may be in the same boat. Given that you’re allowed to track two URLs for free, I’d suggest you try it out. And when you do, I’d love to hear how it works for you.