Engaging with Irene

I’m sure I’m not alone waiting out Irene with CNN and MSNBC on in the background, while I try to do other things, including Twitter, blogging, and a little light coding. (I’m playing with Twitter’s Bootstrap user interface kit. I’m really clicking on CSS and Javascript now, and having a lot of success.)

Anyway, Jeff Jarvis is writing about the editorial content on CNN.

I’m thinking about the commercials.

A picture named eggMcMuffin.gifYou’ve got 65 million people at home, most people not at parties (I imagine). Why isn’t someone doing something creative with the commercials? Surely there must be things that people are thinking about now that they don’t often think about. (Like hurricanes for example. Or the proper role of government. So much discourse is theoretical, now it’s all very real. But strange. For me, living in NY is still weird. But living in NY with a huge hurricane coming our way. I didn’t anticipate that. Like the earthquake we had last week.)

Advertisers, properly mobilized, could take an opportunity to engage.

That’s a word we know on the Internet, but I’m not sure it’s sunk in with the TV medium.

I watched the President’s weekly video. That’s how desperate I am for anything current that’s interesting. In the video, which is the first one I’ve watched, he talks about a spirit of volunteerism, and participating in civic life. He missed the opportunity to connect the hurricane to this spirit (he was talking about the 9/11 anniversary).

An aside, Irene seems a bit like 9/11, but more deliberative. In slow motion. And its scale is still unknown. There are a lot of things in NYC that aren’t really nailed down. Cars. Construction sites. Imagine all those things floating. And NY Harbor is a massive body of water. Shielded, for sure (that’s why NY is such a seaport). But the Narrows, the equivalent of the Golden Gate in San Francisco Bay, is permable. And the Hudson, which is really part of the harbor more than it is a river, could get wild. These are all very strange thoughts.

I thought back to the days just before President Obama took office, and how excited I was about how he might do something truly different with the people. A permanent mobilization of the electorate. Let’s go back to the Peace Corps and reboot. But nothing came. He took office like any other President.

We’re still waiting for the first President who engages with the electorate using the medium we’ve worked so hard to build for them.

Reminds me of when I was young and we took buses to Washington to march against the war in Vietnam. I was one of the organizers, and I was the captain of a bus I was on, filled with students, parents, teachers, volunteers. I didn’t know what I was supposed to do until the mother of one of my friends told me it was my job to give a peptalk, to get people all fired up about where we were going and why. I tried, but like Obama I wasn’t ready.

The President, like me, isn’t comfortable in the role he’s assumed. That’s why people like Perry, I think. He’s dangerous, and ill-prepared, but the guy is comfortable in his skin. Bad combination, imho.

BTW, Google misses an opportunity to engage. I’m on Google Image Search, and want to share that search with people reading this blog post. I look around for a link to Google’s URL shortener. Nowhere to be found. Aha! There’s a “share” link in the upper right corner of my screen. Click it. Sigh. It’s for sharing with Googlel Plus. And it’s not for sharing the page I’m on (that would make too much sense) — it wants me to paste in a URL. Hey — I want to share this page. Get a clue! :-)

Just some thoughts, now I’m going to get back to my boostrapping with Bootstrap! :-)

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About Dave Winer

Dave Winer, 54, pioneered the development of weblogs, syndication (RSS), podcasting, outlining, and web content management software; former contributing editor at Wired Magazine, research fellow at Harvard Law School, entrepreneur, and investor in web media companies. A native New Yorker, he received a Master's in Computer Science from the University of Wisconsin, a Bachelor's in Mathematics from Tulane University and currently lives in Berkeley, California.
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