A blog by the Brick Factory The Brick Factory

Facebook as Predictor of the 2010 Elections

A few days ago Facebook released a study that showed that in most cases the candidate with the most Facebook fans won the election.  Specifically, they wrote:

“The Facebook political team’s initial snapshot of 98 House races shows that 74% of candidates with the most Facebook fans won their contests. In the Senate, our initial snapshot of 19 races shows that 81% of candidates with the most Facebook fans won their contests.”

Folks a lot smarter than I am have deftly pointed out the problems with the concept that you can predict election results based on the number of Facebook fans.  We have no idea how many of the fans actually live in the district of the politicians they are fans of.  Tea Party and colorful folks tend to attract more fans that more straightforward candidates.  Etc.  Etc.

However, I did want to add one small point to the discussion.  For politicians in lower profile races (Congress in particular), the number of Facebook hands is more an indication of how hard they have worked to recruit fans than it is of voter enthusiasm.

These fans don’t just appear out of the blue – campaigns work hard to actively build their fan base using a variety of tactics.  Do they have a prominent Facebook link on their site?  Do they include their Facebook address in email communication?  Do they post compelling content?  Do they run Facebook ads in an effort to promote their page?

Politicians with national profiles can simply put a Facebook page up and watch the numbers grow.  But your run-of-the-mill Congressional candidate has to work to grow their supporter base.  If you put in the time and spend some money you can make your numbers go up.  If you don’t, your numbers will stay pretty flat unless you are a sensation like Christine O’Donnell or Sharon Angle.

PdF: Let's Talk About Text

In the world of news, Markos Moulitsas feels that his website The Daily Kos is ancient, claiming that the website is "Eight years old, or 56 in dog years, which makes it 2,000 in internet years."

Day two of PdF brought us "Rethinking Media," where the founder and publisher highlighted the buildup to war in 2002, which he called "a difficult, trying time for progressives, akin to treason" for dissent. Moulitsas said that at the time his frame of mind was steeped in frustration. His childhood included a love of news and politics, including pricey subscriptions to local Chicago newspapers at a cost to his hard-working parents.

Moulitsas detailed what he felt was a vacuum of truth and objectivity in traditional news media in the face of declining ratings and advertising shares. He felt empowered paying  $8.95 for a domain name and launching The Daily Kos, a progressive blog. He explained that having the website as an outlet made him and other future bloggers change from passive sideliners to content creators, and much of it was facilitated by low-startup costs.He feels that blogging brings in people from all walks of life, creating new voices, and encouraging a new, collaborative form of media.

Moulitsas cited how even a year ago, the idea of having bloggers ask the President a question was considered unheard of, yet now is a regular occurrence. In his opinion, blogging has changed the landscape of news, where there is no difference between television, newspapers, or blogs. He noted that comments, reporting, and the delivery of video and print are now the same across the board, an amalgamation of content.

In this new era, he sees an emergence of platforms and purpose, as opposed to layout and presentation.

He prides the Daily Kos for committing themselves to polling, commissioning more than any other news organization. He wants to create a culture that doesn't assume to know what the opinion of the American public is, saying the website is moderated by the community itself, who by establishing the culture of the website give the readers ownership of the content.

One interesting fact Moulitsas mentioned: Users of his website stay for 48 minutes on average, versus 1 hour spent on the Drudge Report. He mentioned that those numbers are almost double the average for the traditional media sites.

Video from PDF is streaming live at http://personaldemocracy.com/live .

You can also keep up with the latest Tweets. Check out the PdF Twitterslurp at http://personaldemocracy.com/twitter , powered by The Bivings Group.

Event hashtag is #pdf10.

Mark Zuckerberg: Man of the Year?

As if being named "[the] youngest self-made billionaire" by Forbes wasn't enough, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO and creator of Facebook, was recently named one of GQ's coveted Men of the Year for 2008.  It just goes to show that being a hacker and a dropout can still lead to an awesome fiscal future.

Some of the members of this list are obvious (Barrack Obama, Michael Phelps, Ted Kennedy, etc.) but others a little more obscure (apparently Gordon Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares is more popular than I thought…).  Still, it's interesting to note that Zuckerberg is the only member of the list that is noted for achievement in technology, and looking back at past winners, he seems to be the one most social media-savvy as well.  He almost seems a little out of place among all the actors, athletes, and politicians, even though his moniker of "Boy Genius" suits him well.

Read the entire list of winners here and see if you agree with me.  Does he deserve to be on this list?

Mark Zuckerberg

Time's Person of the Year Poll Has Been Hacked

Time Magazine is running a poll on their website in conjunction with their annual naming of the Time Person of the Year.  Twenty five finalists are presented, and  users are encouraged to rank each person on a ten point scale.  Following in a time honored tradition, supporters of scientist Douglas Melton have apparently hacked the poll, as Melton currently has an average ranking of twelve on the ten point scale.   Well done.


Update: Melton’s average ranking has now dropped to a more resonable ten, probably due to Time finding and fixing the problem, or the Melton supporters realizing they’d gone to far and covering their tracks a bit.  Note Obama’s number is also suspiciously high. 

Update 2: One of our developers here, Brandon Savage, weighs in on how the poll was probably hacked:

“I took a look at the process of voting with a very basic set of tools on Firefox: Firebug and LiveHTTPHeaders. What I found is that when you submit the rating, it calls another page and passes a key, the rating, and the poll information through the URL to the page, like so:


Theoretically, then, you could hit this page as many times as you wanted with any rating you wanted, and drive up a candidates’ score. Though one would expect that Time would have figured that anyone could game the system, it’s easy for a programmer to forget that what they don’t intend for public viewing may still be visible, and that they always need to check to ensure that the data they expect is the data they are getting.”

Election Day web tools

Election Day is rapidly approaching. Many will have Tuesday off and the luxury of keeping score on TV from home. Others will keep tabs online. Whichever way we choose, we treat the event almost like an all-day football game (a very, very important football game), cheering or jeering as each precinct reports. If you’ll be using the net to track the results, news, or still need to make your mind up, here are some resources you’ll find useful:

CNN Election Center – Well designed, lot’s of information and clutter-free. My personal favorite.

USA Today – If it’s just the bottom line, raw news and state-by-state results you’re looking for, USA Today does the job quickly and efficiently.

Politweets – “When Twitter gets political.” 

YouTube Super Tuesday – Upload your political opinions, analysis, interviews, or campaign trail footage to YouTube, then use the interactive map to watch videos from voters, candidates, and news outlets.

Scholastic | Election 2008 – A great way to follow the election with your kids.

Google’s Map Mashups – A virtual hodgepodge of the candidates’ speeches, interviews, endorsements and appearances around the nation.

Pollster.com – The must-bookmark for all projection junkies.

Glassbooth.org – This quiz will help all you undecideds settle on a candidate.