Patrick Ruffini has a good post about an online poll he came across that asked what technology would have the biggest impact on the 2008 election cycle.  YouTube is winning the poll in a landslide.  Ruffini writes:

That’s a “fighting the last war” mentality. Ask the pundits to predict what will work in the next election cycle and they’ll repeat what worked in the last one.

I agree.  So in a fit of stupidity, I'm going to list some of the technologies I think will impact the 2008 cycle that haven't already been hyped/written about to death.  Technologies that haven't really hit the political world yet.  Chances are none of these will actually have an impact and it will be something else, but it is worth a shot.

(1) Ning (Niche Social Networks)

Draft Gore The social network creation tool Ning relauched yesterday and it looks very, very promisingNing allows users to create their own highly specialized social networks through a slick drag and drop interface.  As an example, a network has been created to draft Al Gore for another Presidential run.  Ning is not the only player in this field – there are tons.

The implications here are pretty obvious.  These tools will allow activists to create their own networks around the issues or candidates they are passionate about (they are essentially a more powerful version of Yahoo Groups).  Campaigns can build their own social networks without spending a fortune to build inferior tools.  Bloggers can build communities around their sites. 

(2) Mozes (Broadcast Text Messaging)

Mozes As a web developer, I run into lots of applications I love but never really have an opportunity to use.  Mozes is one of those aps for me.  As I wrote back in July, "Mozes allows you to create a free account and then register the keywords of your choice. People who send a text message to 66937 (MOZES) with your keyword as the message will get back a custom message of your choosing. In addition, you can use Mozes to encourage users to subscribe to your keyword and you can then send out broadcast messages to all your subscribers whenever you want."

Mozes is currently used mostly by bands to promote shows and such.  But I think an enterprising candidate or activist could use Mozes (or a similar service) to update users on the candidate's schedule or to send out a message of the week.  Users could just text the phrase "obama" to 66937 and get back whatever message the campaign crafts and subscribe to receive additional alerts. 

(3) Twitter (What Are You Doing Now?)

Twitter is a social networking tool that allows you to use your computer, cell phone and/or instant messenger account to send out short messages about what you are doing to your friends.  You can also receive updates regarding what your friends are doing in the same way.  Twitter is addictive in its simplicity and seems to be catching on among West Coast technology workers.  For an example, here is the Twitter page of founder Evan Williams

What does this have to do with politics?  Maybe very little.  But if Twitter catches on I think it's power as an organizational tool for grassroots activists is obvious.  The service can be used to send out calls to action that then can be spread from person to person via email, text message and/or IM.  In the pipe dream category, I think it would be fantastic for elected officials to use Twitter to keep constituents up to date on their activities (who they are meeting with, what they are voting on, etc.).

(4) NowPublic (Networked Journalism Websites) 

This one is sort of cheating, as the power of networked journalism (or citizen journalism if you prefer) has already been proven time and again (RatherGate, Trent Lott, etc.).  But in the last few years we've seen a number of websites launch that specialize in aggregating user generated news stories.  These sites include NowPublic, Our Media, and OhMyNews and each has developed its own network of citizen reporters.

MyBlogLogI expect one of these networked news sites (or one that hasn't launched yet) to emerge in the next few years as a leader.  And I think stories these sites break about the 2008 Presidential election could be the catalyst for this breakthrough. 

(5) MyBlogLog (Social Networking Around Blogs)

I've written about this before as well.  "MyBlogLog is a tool that allows for social networking around blogs.  Basically, bloggers and blog readers sign up for a MyBlogLog account and upload a picture, claim their blog and create a profile. If you run a blog, you can insert the MyBlogLog widget (see right) on your site and you can see a list of your recent visitors.  MyBlogLog allows users to form relationship with other readers and also to join a blog's community."

MyBlogLog isn't the only player in this space – OthersOnline and Explode recently launched.

To be honest, right now these services are kind of pointless.  You can build a community around your website/blog but beyond that there isn't much more going on.  However, I think building communities around the sites you visit is a compelling concept.   As these tools develop, they will give people the power to develop online networks that could be eventual
ly used to spur political activism.

Got your own idea?  Leave it in the comments. 

About the Author
Todd Zeigler
Todd Zeigler serves as the Brick Factory’s chief strategist and oversees the operations of the firm. In his sixteen year career in digital, he has planned and implemented campaigns for clients including the Pickens Plan, International Youth Foundation, Panthera, Edison Electric Institute, and the American Chemistry Council. Todd develops ambitious online advocacy programs, manages crises, implements online marketing strategies, and develops custom applications and software. He is bad at golf though.