Approximately 500 conservatives looking to educate themselves about blogs and social networking are at RightOnline in Austin this weekend, 10 minutes from the Daily Kos' Netroots Nation conference. This is no coincidence, according to the WaPo, and I have to agree. Cosponsoring groups include Chicago's Sam Adams Alliance, the Leadership Institute, Americans for Prosperity, Heritage Foundation, and the Media Research Center.
Kicking off the day with the panel "Winning in a Web 2.0 World" were David All, a superstar in his own right with experience on and off capitol hill with new media and public relations; Rob Bluey, formerly of Human Events and now director of new media at Heritage Foundation; and David Almacy, former new media director at the Bush White House.
Other panels on Friday's schedule: "Blogging 101: Getting Started with Free & Paid Sites," "Total Reputation Management: Protecting Your Online Identity," "New Media and the Conservative Movement," and "Understanding and Critiquing Old Media."
Listen long enough—say, more than 10 minutes in most political circles—and you'll hear grumblings about the left's advantage with new media. The conference attendees I met today were, for the most part, average citizens who aren't satisfied with being passive grumblers. They want to learn what they can do to promote conservative ideas online, either in their communities as grassroots activists or at non-profits as employees and volunteers. While I don't see any conservative counterpart to the left's Daily Kos and MoveOn, our future is bright because conservatives comprehend the muscle of the Internet. Today my fellow conference attendees and I discussed different methods of harnessing its power for the good of the movement.
- According to David All, Twitter will replace e-mail and text messages. Twitter is a free social networking and micro-blogging service that lets users send updates, limited to 140 characters, to other users.
- Eyeblast is the new YouTube—at least for conservatives. The brainchild of the Media Research Center, it's one-stop shopping for video uploads. Add your video to Eyeblast and you can quickly send (blast) it to Facebook, YouTube, etc. Like YouTube, groups can have channels (examples are Move American Forward and the Heritage Foundation). Unlike YouTube, your video has a chance of being featured on Eyeblast's homepage.
- Ning: Create your own social network for anything.
- Qik and Yahoo! Live: video upload sites.
- If your group has the resources and wants to spread the word about anything from a political campaign to a local petition, consider Google ads, which run on the right-hand column of any page when a Google search contains a key word of your choosing.
§ Wikipedia entry maintenance is a never-ending job but David All points out many people take its entries for fact—it's worth your time to contribute to pages relevant to your causes.
If you have the chance to attend a conference like this, don't delay! The networking capabilities are endless and the future is bright—remember, a few conservative heads open to new technology are better than all the MoveOn zombies in Texas this weekend.