One reason we endorsed Barack Obama as our Democratic nominee for TechPresident earlier today is because he has made an effort to understand technology and create a comprehensive technology platform. Not only is he Web-savvy, so are his constituents. A site called YouBama that launched a few days ago is a case in point. Designed by two Stanford grad students, Christopher Pedregal and Eric Park, to drum up grass-roots support for Obama, the site lets supporters upload videos explaining why they are going to vote for the candidate. The videos can then be voted up or down Digg-style. Pedregal explains to me:
The idea was to make it personal and individual. Everyone says this will be the YouTube elections. This can democratize the campaign process. It is an experiment. We don’t know if voters have a lot to say.
It is a simple but sophisticated site that will appeal to the YouTube generation, and an effective way to distill the most powerful messages with the broadest appeal. (The video at the top right now is a clip of George Clooney endorsing Obama on the Charlie Rose Show). The best part about the site is that it has nothing to do with the official Obama campaign. Says Pedregal:
There are a lot of things the Obama campaign can’t say or can’t do. There are a lot of sensitive issues regarding race or gender or attacks the candidates might use, and voters will want to react to that.
YouBama isn’t trying to be more than a grass-roots marketing vehicle for the Obama campaign. Pedregal and Park are both Obama supporters and they want to drum up more votes for his campaign. Their attitude is that supporters of other candidates can create their own sites. But they also feel that creating this site is “most applicable” to the Obama campaign because of its efforts to reach out to younger voters and speak to their aspirations. In other words, they feel they have the best chance of getting good videos from Obama supporters as opposed to those of the other candidates.