Jake’s video of Edwards

One thing I’ve never seen as a Californian is the interactions that normal everyday people have with political candidates like they have in Iowa. Mostly that’s cause Democratic politicians know they need to win in Iowa to be nominated. But partly because of the political culture that’s here. I mean 1,500 people packed a hall tonight to hear John Edwards speak with almost two years to go before the general election. The rest of us usually would just ignore this stuff cause there’s no way to engage or make your own impact.

Here Jake Ludington, a geek working on Lockergnome, brings a small Sanyo Xacti camera and records some of one of those conversations and put it up on Google video. No mainstream video press was around.

If this was 1992 I doubt you would have ever seen this conversation shared with all of you. I recorded the entire conversation (Jake only got part of it, his camera ran out of storage space), will have it up next week, along with lots of intimate conversations. Oh, yeah, that is Chuck Olson filming for Rocketboom in the background of Jake’s video.

Note that the people asking the questions sound like “professional press.” But they are not. They are average citizens who got to come backstage before his townhall meeting. The culture in Iowa is to sit down with candidates and have conversations with them and triangulate on what they really stand for.

Maxthon on ScobleShow

While I’m traipsing around the US the ScobleShow must go on. Today there’s a fun set of videos (demo, interview) with Maxthon’s CEO, Nathaniel Jacobson. That’s Chris Pirillo’s favorite Web browser. The demo shows off some great features that IE7 and Firefox don’t yet have.

We’re in Iowa.

Weird, I just ran into Jake Ludington. He’s a geek that works with Chris Pirillo on Lockergnome and is home for the holidays (home being Des Moines) so thought he’d drop by and see what all the hoopla is about.

The “RSS tap”

One of the campaign aides asked me “what time did you go to sleep?” I answered “around 2 a.m.”

He said something like “you couldn’t turn off the RSS tap either, huh?”

Another key moment for me? Being in a small New Orleans house with John Edwards, his campaign staff checking their Blackberries for news reports. Yes, they read TechMeme and Memeorandum. Gabe will like that. Oh, and Technorati and IceRocket.

They’ve discovered that by using “the RSS tap” they can listen and talk about what people say, even when they are getting called idiots for various things.

If I were on a campaign I’d start a blog called “the idiotic thing” which would display the idiotic thing they did and either apologize for it, or answer it.

I’d add a blog of idiotic things to my RSS tap.

Heck, I might start one. Or Maryam might start one for me. :-)

Sitting with the Washington Post

I’m sitting with Dan Balz, political journalist for the Washington Post. He wrote this story of the events this morning.

I am getting back to looking at how technology is changing campaigns. Getting back to my geek roots, as it were.

He’s been at the Post since 1978.

Technology is radically changing campaigns, he says. First he’s no longer writing just for paper. Dan told me he’s updated his story several times in the past few hours, plus he’s been on radio and TV interviews. The Post wants him to produce podcasts and video blogs too, or look for opportunities in bringing other media onto the Post’s pages.

He’s typing furiously into a Dell laptop — is now rewriting his article for the newspaper that everyone will get in the morning — and has a Verizon Wireless card.

The world of politics is changing, he told me, because now a candidate must give dozens of interviews to tons of different people with small audiences. The age of talking to one guy who had a massive audience is probably over. Even if you leave blogs out of the story even the mainstream press is seeing its audiences split up into smaller and smaller niches with more and more pieces. I remember back to journalism school where I saw pictures of the Presidential press corps back in the 1960s: there were only a handful of journalists. Today, even for news like today, dozens of different camera crews show up, along with dozens more of print journalists, photographers, everyday citizens, and radio journalists.

One other thing that we chatted about is business models. He knows his organization is under pressure to not only grow audience (he says the Washington Post is read now more than ever, but increasingly only online) but also figure out how to make money with its increasingly online audience. He’s not the only journalist to talk with me about that lately — seems the entire industry is focused on how to make money to continue to fund content.

Anyway, I’ll try to get back to tech a little bit. Ahh, Apple’s in trouble over stock option back dating. That’s a tough issue to chew on, but then ripping off investors isn’t exactly sexy.

Avoid politics on my link blog…

I’ve been link blogging a bunch of stuff and keeping it relatively politics free.

But, I’m not going to write a lot about John Edwards. If you care about what happened here today he’s been doing a different interview every 15 minutes, just follow the reports on Google News, and just stood on the lawn next to a destroyed Ninth Ward home in New Orleans and talked with dozens of press here (I counted 20 video cameras). Translation: you can read a ton about what he said, with a lot more coming soon.

Some notes: Fox News actually gave him the best interview and asked the most insightful questions.

Matt Lauer, of Today Show, asked him if he was going to pick Hillary Clinton as his running mate, which drew the biggest laugh from Edwards.

I’ve been getting access to everything. Even back stage stuff when he comes into one of the rebuilt New Orleans homes to get warm. Well, we’re off to Iowa now.

The one consistent theme that resonates with me is that Edwards is asking people to get involved to fix America.  The taxi driver yesterday who drove me from the airport said he thought Edwards sounded a lot like John Kennedy. I hear that on the front lawn today.