MyNews for MySpace: 5.14.2007

barack obama myspaceLast week i was in New Orleans volunteering for a few organizations and staying at a place called the India house hostel. Now, during Friday night Karaoke, after nailing “Respect” (yea right) by none other than the the one and only; i made the case for the creation of an India House Hostel MySpace page. It is surprising that they don’t have one, or that they charge as much as they do for their internet prohibiting most people from making one there. Luckily, free internet is nearby at a grass-roots community outreach center just three blocks away. Free internet, Free legal councilin’, and awesome volunteers. Common ground, check it out if you can…

Well, at most hostels you meet many people from diverse political and spiritual backgrounds. The India house was no different. So when i met a couple that were volunteering like myself, i asked them what they did before they arrived to the Big Easy to do hard work, they said they worked at Mother Jones. “Wow, that is some cutting edge stuff.” I said, they replied, “Well progressive maybe.”

I wasn’t sure. So today I checked out Mother Jones dot com and came across a tech meets politics with a rising star in both the media and Washington DC. Please check out this Mother Jones MyNews for MySpace where we see community organization and growing pains in the marriage of technology, commerce, and politics.

Last week, top-down campaigning collided with bottom-up netroots organizing when Barack Obama’s web team wrested control of an unofficial Obama MySpace page from its diligent proprietor. The power play resulted in the loss of 160,000 MySpace friends for the presidential candidate and one very disillusioned organizer. Twenty-nine-year-old Obama enthusiast Joe Anthony, a Los Angeles paralegal, created MySpace.com/BarackObama long before Obama’s presidential bid began, and maintained it—with the campaign’s knowledge and encouragement, he says—for more than two years. But as Obama’s popularity grew, so did his MySpace profile, and as the page neared 200,000 members, the campaign became increasingly uneasy about having an unknown volunteer in charge of a significant outreach project. The clash illuminates what will likely be a recurring tension between campaigns and their unpaid supporters in the 2008 election cycle as presidential candidates strive to harness the power of the net.

The Obama campaign says it had no choice but to take control of Anthony’s profile when it became apparent that the Los Angeles paralegal was after “a big payday”; Anthony acknowledges that, when the campaign asked him to turn the profile over, he asked for $39,000. The campaign also says the profile contained misinformation about Obama, a claim Anthony disputes.

Anthony, a Los Angeles paralegal, spoke with Mother Jones about how campaigns can effectively take advantage of supporter-generated communities without suppressing voter-rallying enthusiasts (More)

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