In the FT today 10 Feb 2007. Barack Obama, the fresh face of the Democratic party, will formally announce his candidacy for the 2008 presidential nomination in Springfield, Illinois, today.
The FT writes
Mr Obama’s recruits there will pale in comparison with his virtual support group of devotees who have signed up to his cause on Facebook, the social networking site that has spread like wildfire among college-going youth since 2003.
In the three weeks since Mr Obama created his exploratory presidential committee on January 16, a spontaneous online community group on Facebook “Barack Obama (One Million Strong for Barack)” has enlisted 244,225 members.
That makes it not only the fastest-growing Facebook group but also perhaps the most instantaneous creation of a political community of supporters for any presidential candidate.
Like Howard Dean
The success of this spontaneous, viral, effort – which comes alongside another Facebook group, “Barack Obama for President in 2008″, with 60,000 members – has sparked comparisons with Howard Dean’s 2004 pioneering, internet-driven campaign of 2004.
At the heart of it was Meetup.com, an internet tool for community events. Yet it took Mr Dean 11 months for his group on Meetup to attract 140,000 members rather than three weeks to recruit 250,000.
The potential of Group Forming Networks
Mr Obama told the student crowd that grassroots activism could help him reshape the political environment. But challenges remain in translating online enthusiasm into wider action. Online networking groups are prone to fads. There are also doubts about how helpful they might prove to a campaign since members’ contact details are often not volunteered by participants.
Mr Armstrong said: “The barrier to entry is pretty low. You get online and within two clicks you have joined. It takes five seconds. The question is how to mobilise them beyond the two clicks thing.” Even so, he said: “It can translate into something. Youth voted in the last two elections in higher percentages
The young disengage with politics || politics – communities and communication technologies || Communities and politics || Fake Politics vs. Authentic Politics. engagememt vs. platitudes || Whose laughing now? || The economics of Group forming Network theory || The Wealth of Networks || From Participatory Culture to Participatory Democracy