Thursday, October 29, 2009

Living a Double Life - Organizing in Second Life

One of the niche treats that we haven't yet shared from Netroots Nation 2009 in Pittsburgh was a panel we attended on Second Life, an online alternative universe where members create a 3d digital version of themselves, called an avatar, to live in a virtual world, that appears and operates much like our actual one. For the record I have never participated myself and probably never will, but the creative possibilities of Second Life are quite fascinating. By creating this realistic virtual world, Second Life allows people to express themselves in a world very similar to our own that they never could do in the real one. This gets played out in the creation of the avatar, for example, where one can build their appearance however they see fit, whether as an exact representation of themselves, a foil of themselves, or a dream character who they could never be in real life.

Personally I think it's nerdishly cool but pretty absurd and bizarre. Like Twitter, Second Life can be (and often is) used for personal superficial reasons, but also can be vehicles to build communities that address important social issues. Some waste time on twitter as a popularity contest, to build as many followers as possible and share every mundane insignificant detail of your life with the rest of the world, while others use it as a tool to build relationships and spread important information across the world. Anyone on twitter in the weeks after the Iran election will remember the green avatars, switching your hometown to Tehran, flooding the #IranElection and other various hashtags to make more traffic for Iranian officials to sort through while trying to locate protesters. Similarly, Second Life can be used to create an avatar that succumbs to all the excesses of life without the earthly consequences or one can use the Second Life character to make statements and connections surrounding important issues affecting the real world.

The people in these videos clearly fall into the latter category. In a variety of ways, their Avatars have taken creative but otherwise impossible actions in Second Life to confront important real world issues. They have taken advantage of the social networking possibilities Second Life offers and, in their own unique way, are taking a digital stand on actual issues...

--Connecting Second Life With Real World Small Organizations

--Second LIfe as an Immersive Educational Opportunity

--Second Life an Opportunity for Satyrical Commentary

--Building Communities with Interactive Experiences

For more videos from Netroots Nation 2009, go to

Brought to you by Sum of Change

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Training Tuesday: 'Your Field Plan: Vote Goals, Targeting, and Field Strategy' from the DFA Campaign Academy

This week, we have a few clips from another session at Democracy For America (DFA) Campaign Academy's 'Grassroots Campaign Training' held September 26th and 27th at Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, PA. This session, called 'Your Field Plan: Vote Goals, Targeting, and Field Strategy', explains how a campaign can best prepare their own operation for electoral success by creating a specific and detailed field plan. According to DFA:
The field plan is the campaign's blueprint for victory. The field plan is the series of strategies and tactics a campaign uses to gather the necessary votes to win an election. The media plan, the finance plan, and all the campaign's administrative capacity serves one goal: support an operation capable of gathering the number of votes necessary to win the campaign. The field plan is that operation.

To this end, we have three clips for you. In the first, our new trainer, Kendra-Sue Derby, a longtime progressive campaign manager and advisor, explains how it is 'All About the Numbers'. As obvious as it sounds, the best way to win a campaign is to have the most voters, so keeping a plan of every voter and voting district and working off of that plan is the best way to win your campaign. In the next two videos, Kendra-Sue discusses some specific of how to best implement your plan by 'Targeting Your Voters'. In part one she outlines how a campaign should classify different kinds of potential voters while in part two she goes into how to approach, or not approach, each group...

For more information about the DFA Campaign Academy trainings, go to Unfortunately, the 2009 training season has ended, but you can contact DFA about having one in your area in 2010.

Please check out our Training Tuesday page for more Campaign Academy content, and come back every Tuesday @ 6:00 for more Training Tuesday videos.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Face-to-Face Encouragement: VOP at the Metro wth Rep Connoly Cutout

Last week, the Virginia Organizing Project (VOP) and Democracy for America (DFA) took to the metro with Representative Gerry Connelly, well, a cutout of him anyway. Volunteers asked passing metro riders if they would like to take a picture with the cutout for fun, and make a call to Representative Connolly and Senator Warner in support of a public option and a health care reform bill. The event made for some great hangin-with-Connolly interviews (with some unexpected street-side musical accompaniment) ...

The cutout, albeit fun to pose with, was there to send a very serious message to the Representative and other elected officials who are waffling on their support for a Public Option backed health care reform bill. It was an expression of frustration on the part of the DFA and VOP that Rep. Connolly appears to listen mostly to wealthy industry lobbyists, while ordinary citizens are forced to settle for a cutout. They feel that it is too important of an issue for a representative of the people to passivly decide upon and they want their congressmen to take an active role in ensuring its swift passage. This debate has gone on for an exceedingly long amount of time, but as the fight to pass a health care reform bill finally near the finish line, the DFA and VOP appear strong in their resolve to ensure a passage of a healthcare reform bill with a public option.

VOP uploaded a bunch of their pictures from the afternoon to their Flickr site, which we have included below...