On August 23rd, SF TechDems hosted Catherine Bracy from Tech4Obama. Catherine shared a lot about what the Obama Campaign is doing to leverage technology and how people can help. Below are some of the highlights.
1. Sign up for Tech4Obama: (http://www.tech4obama.com) Technology for Obama (T4O) is activating influencers from the broad technology community to support President Obama's re-election. T4O volunteers use their networks to persuade undecided voters, drive voter registration and GOTV, recruit field volunteers and raise money for the campaign. By signing up for T4O you'll find out about opportunities to participate in these efforts, and have access to tools and resources to help meet these volunteer, fundraising, registration and turn-out goals.
2. Sign up to volunteer in the San Francisco Tech Office: The Obama campaign's SF Tech office, the first of its kind in political history, recruits technologists (engineers, designers, programmers, UX experts, and product managers) to conceive and build tools that will be deployed nationally by the campaign. As we enter the final stretch of the campaign, the SF Tech office is turning its attention to supporting the states directly with various tech-related tasks as well as beta testing new versions of existing barackobama.com tools. You don't have to be able to write code to participate in these efforts. All you need is to be comfortable using web-based tools and performing light tech support. There are opportunities in San Francisco as well as in the battleground states. Sign up to support the battleground states here. If you want to join our beta testing army, you can sign up here. Questions can be emailed to: email@example.com.
3. Attend the convention watch party: The NorCal chapter of T4O is hosting several gatherings throughout the fall, the first of which will be a watch party for the President's acceptance speech at the DNC on September 6. You can get more details and RSVP here. T4O will also be holding watch parties for each of the four debates. Save the dates, and stay tuned for more info.
Thank you for participating in the review of the original draft version of SB1002. Your efforts, combined with the comments from technologists across California have enabled Senator Leland Yee to refine the technical language in what we hope will become California's first Open Data Law. Together, we have made our collective voices heard. There is growing support and momentum for SB1002 and SF Tech Dems is at the forefront of making this happen.
However, it is not certain that the Bill will be approved, or even allowed for consideration on the Senate floor. We must continue to work together and speak with one voice if we are to prevail. We still have much work to do.
In my discussions with the various groups who have reviewed the bill over the last several weeks, it has become apparent we will receive substantial opposition from the local cities and counties which are now included in this bill. As you may recall, the original version only applied to state government, however as a result of your feedback this newly released version now covers both state and local governments. Ensuring common rules and practices applied to all agencies across the state was expressed by many members as an important factor to drive innovation and transparency.
We must stay focused on this key, threshold issue. There are many details of the bill that are very important and we will address these as well. But, at this moment, none is as important -- or significant -- as the local provision.
This amended version is the product of your collective efforts. In the coming weeks, SF Tech Dems will be initiating a support drive to numerous other organizations and individuals to build the necessary support and show the legislature that our technology community is united behind this bill. Shown below this message is the amended version for your review. Please take a look at it, admire it, and distribute it to your friends. Now we need their support and YOURS! This issue is front and center because all of us are working together on many fronts -- advocacy, media, advertising, and grassroots efforts.
We will have a member event toward the end of March to update you and have Senator Yee discuss the latest events surrounding SB1002 and our advocacy efforts. I hope each of you will join us.
Again, thank you for all of your efforts. I can’t say this strongly enough; we must speak loudly and we need for your voices to continue to be heard. Together, with one voice, we can create a better future for San Francisco, and California.
Please contact me if you have any questions, or wish to provide additional feedback on the current version.
SF Tech Dems
Along with a number of other open government advocates, I've launched a campaign to put a definition of "open data online" into California and San Francisco law. The issue is that often when documents and data are published online, they cannot be accessed or used in a meaningful fashion because they cannot be searched, indexed by Google, or combined in a meaningful way with other documents for analysis. I want to tackle this not by mandating that certain documents and data be published online, but simply by creating a reference standard so that when new mandates pass, or new documents are published online as a matter of course under existing law or regular business, they are in accessible formats.
We need your support.
From time to time I get asked for my opinion about digital strategy for SF elections. I'd like to share here a few of the top things that I think would be effective today. Would love to hear other ideas and feedback in the comments!
One of the important things to recognize in SF today is the changing nature of the creative class and how influential the emerging creators from Gen X and Y really are. Knowledge work is the driver of modern industry and SF is the Mecca for these folks around the world. Software developers, for example, often do what the do for the joy of creating something out of nothing - the same kind of force that drives painters and sculptors. The same with bloggers and other multi-media creators.
There are thousands and thousands of these folks in SF, and they cross demographic boundaries.
They are also very influential, generally progressive but pragmatic and not tightly tied to a particular ideology or historical movement. Many of them are not registered with a party. They are also very open and easy to engage with, as long as you have a thick skin (which anyone running for SF mayor must).
Some things I would do if I were running for mayor in SF today, and that would benefit any candidate:
- Attend as many of the public networking/mixer-style SF Meetups as possible;
- Meet the local photographer groups and join their photo walks;
- Use Twitter and Tumblr to share quick bursts of real thoughts and actions, not press releases;
- Interact with people who respond on social media channels;
- Work with Yelp and Open Table to integrate SF restaurant health inspection scores with reviews from those sites to save millions in public health costs;
- Comment on local blogs covering the race and interact openly with other commenters;
- Hire a digital strategist to work full time on setting up opportunities and identifying platforms to get your message out. I have a friend in mind who really should be working for one of the campaigns - won't mention his name here because he is currently employed.
- All of these new media are dramatically public. Each interaction is magnified.
- and, shameless plug, use NationBuilder (where I am chief organizer) for your campaign. It is simply the best grassroots advocacy software platform available, and it is very inexpensive.
All of this advice is what I would tell anyone, and have told others. It is good advice. I wish I'd know a lot more about this stuff - and about traditional voter outreach and election strategy - when I ran for Congress two years ago.
(My company, NationBuilder, does not endorse candidates or take consulting fees. Neither do NationBuilder employees take consulting fees for candidates or political organizations. Personally, I like my former boss, SF City Attorney Dennis Herrera, for mayor, but there are several good candidates and it's great that SF voters get the chance to pick three with ranked choice voting this year. Individual members and officers of SF Tech Dems have varying opinions and favorites in local elections - as a club we exist to provide grassroots technology advice to municipal and state officials and politicians and to enccourage technologists to be active in the Democratic Party. Need advice? Just ask!)
The SF Tech Dems had its first membership meeting on Thursday, where we heard from Stephen Valentino, founding member of the California Democratic Party Computer and Internet Caucus Clean Tech Committee, took new memberships, and discussed our candidates' questionnaire.
The Tech Dems are considering a candidate scorecard for the SF mayoral race, which will them be targeted to local residents with Facebook ads.
We're recruiting new members, and you can join online at $50 for an individual membership and $80 for a household.
Check out a full photo set from Thursday's SF Tech Dems meeting here on Flickr.
Dennis Herrera, San Francisco's City Attorney, has joined the SF Tech Dems as an advisory board member. Said Herrera:
"It's incredibly important that we as a city work to engage our vibrant tech community in the political process. San Francisco has the great privilege of being home to a number of groundbreaking tech companies that can provide us with outstanding input on policy decisions to move our great city forward.
"We are already far beyond most other American municipalities in open data and social media platforms, but we can do better. San Francisco should be leading the charge in technology innovation in government. The city needs to to begin having a serious dialogue with our technology community so they can provide us with the best possible guidance on issues affecting them like government IT spending and tax policies to encourage entrepreneurial growth. We have all of the tools and resources we need to be a champion of tech issues in the Democratic party and San Francisco must utilize those resources and lead."
Other Tech Dems advisory board members include Brigette Hunley, chair of the California Democratic Party Computer & Internet Caucus, Silicon Valley legislator Sally Lieber, and SF Board of Supervisors President David Chiu.
The first meeting of the SF Tech Dems is tonight, 5:30 p.m., at 1408 Market St.. Sign up for email updates here. 2011 dues are $50 for an individual; $80 for a household; and $10 for other memberships - join and pay dues online here.
David Chiu, President of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and founder of Grassroots Enterprise, a consultancy focused on Internet communications, has joined the advisory board for the San Francisco Technology Democrats. Chiu made his commitment to the organization at the California Democratic Party Convention in Sacramento on Friday. In this advisory role, he joins Brigette Hunley, Chair of the California Democratic Party Computer & Internet Caucus, and Sally Lieber, former three-term Silicon Valley Assemblywoman.
"San Francisco should be the headquarters for the innovation economy of the 21st century and not just another bedroom community for Silicon Valley," said Chiu. "But as a founder of an online technology company, I know firsthand that building a tech business here in San Francisco can be difficult. I'm excited to be a part of SF Tech Dems, an organization that advocates for a pro-technology agenda that will make it easier for entrepreneurs to create jobs in our great city of San Francisco."
Photo by Steve Rhodes
Sally Lieber, a longtime Silicon Valley legislator and current candidate for California Senate, has joined the SF Tech Dems advisory board. Lieber is a frequent Democratic speaker on technology issues, and was featured in the inaugural episode of Gov 2.0 Radio along with O’Reilly Media’s Tim O’Reilly. She talked to SF Tech Dems co-founder and president Adriel Hampton about the importance of political advocacy around tech issues in California and in local government.
“It’s vital that the voice of technology and that technology issues are in place in our City Halls and in the Capitol in Sacramento and not just in Washington, DC, which has been the case for many, many years. We are finding more and more that the community can be served much more efficiently if there is an understanding of basic tech issues within government. There are a tremendous number of opportunities where bills could be happening that could be beneficial to the community in terms of technology issues, but aren’t happening because there is not a real understanding of these issues within government.
“I’m very hopeful that the SF Tech Dems can help in promoting tech issues, can get two-way communication going between the community and officeholders and candidates, and can really help turn Government 2.0 into Policy 2.0, and bring the lessons learned within the tech community, and the way things are done in the tech community, into government for much better outcomes.”
Sally Lieber represented Silicon Valley in the Assembly for three terms, and also served as an councilwoman and mayor of Mountain View. She is well known as a feminist and a progressive. Hampton asked Lieber what kind of experience she brings to the table as an advisory board member for the Tech Dems.
“I really come out of Silicon Valley. I feel like I’ve been steeped in the tech issues for many, many years. When I served in local government, we were very involved in promoting tech issues, and in making sure that our high-tech companies in Silicon Valley felt they had a home base there and that they were well-supported and nurtured by the community. Many of them were very small companies which came right out of our downtown community in Mountain View. I really felt coming to Sacramento that there wasn’t that same focus on tech issues as there really should be, particularly when we are talking about San Francisco, the 8th largest economy in the world. There are so many opportunities where we can do things better in government, if there is basic understanding of how technology can be used to serve the community.
“We could do a much better job of bringing in ideas and crowdsourcing solutions for the problems we have as a state if we leverage the technology that is already out there in the consumer sector, and the communities of people who are already online, to come together, whether it is through camps or online organizing. That kind of organizing ought to be brought into government and utilized for the public good.”