Thursday, May 3, 2012

Are Political Campaigns Stalking You?

Today on NPR Brian Naylor reports on how political campaigns are using technology to track voters across the internet:

"'If you sign up to use one of these campaign apps on Facebook, you're given a little warning that says this app is now going to find out everything that you've made public about yourself on Facebook, as well as the names and IDs of all your friends,' says [Micah] Sifry."
"The campaigns are very interested in where we go online, whether it's Facebook or a news site. And if you've ever wondered how campaign banner ads seem to pop up on every site you visit, blame one of those little data markers in your browser, the cookie. Visit a campaign website, Sifry says, and you get a cookie, which gets shared with other websites you visit.
'The cookie that they've placed on your site from visiting their website is telling those other websites, "Hey, this is a person who visited the Barack Obama website; let's show them one of those Obama ads,"' says Sifry.
Sifry says there is a danger of a backlash, that voters might feel they're being stalked by a campaign."
The comments from Sifry illustrate the impetus for 121Campaign, which allows a voter to interact with a campaign on a one-to-one basis, while protecting the voter from having their privacy invaded or from being exploited on social media.  

Reflections on Launch Day at Betaspring

Our official Launch Day at Betaspring was one week ago.  Now some reflections...

1.  The twelve weeks at Betaspring were the fastest of my life.  Time flies when you're having fun as they say. I would add that it literally seems to evaporate into thin air when you're having fun, hard at work on a start up.

2.  Accepting a spot in Betaspring and moving to Providence was the right decision.  In Boston, you can easily feel like you're at the center of the start up universe, and I'm sure people out in Silicon Valley feel the same way.  But that's not necessarily a good thing. Being surrounded by other start ups makes it easy to get lost in the crowd.  Companies that are in completely different spaces become competitors because they're vying for time and access to the same mentors and investors that you are. In Providence the start up community is comparatively nascent, yet very solid and developed. You still have an opportunity to meet with other entrepreneurs and share ideas.  There a tons of great mentors which I'd say you have better access to.  If you're in Betaspring, investors will come from Boston just to see you.  More importantly, the entire City of Providence seems to be rooting for you.  Everyone I meet is excited to hear that we're starting our company in Providence.  Here, people are quick to offer help and support in anyway they can, which is great for an entrepreneur.

3.  We are one of the first Personal Media companies.  TechCocktail had a write-up on Betaspring's launch day.  Our company was in the "Other" category.  The category we should have been in is Personal Media.  That's what our platform does, it allows you to personalize media for a specific individual and allow them to get that without requiring them to opt-in.  I believe personal media is the successor to social media.  As the internet becomes increasingly accessed via mobile and as people have various app alerts distracting them from the content they're viewing, it becomes important to make their experiences personally relevant in order to get them engaged.  That's what 121nexus is about.  We're glad to lead the charge.

Betaspring is just the beginning.  We have a lot of hard work ahead of us, but we sure are excited to do it!