Did “Jott the Vote” Decide to “MoveOn?”

jott-the-vote.jpgJott, the voice to text transcription service that I wrote all about here, came up with Jott the Vote as a derivation last fall, but it went awol in classic ‘flash-n-dash’ startup mode, as the application seemed to “move on” to more universal uses.

People use Jott in different ways…my own personal Jott use is usually for mental floss/self-reminders (much like their blog states here) but it seemed like such a logical Campaign ’08 gizmo that I was surprised to see it fade so fast.

Pity, I kind of liked the idea of turning a cell into a ‘hear me roar’ style mobile megaphone to give a ‘shout out’ to tuned in politicos…The fact that they were trying to engage people in the process of decision-making is huge in itself and worthy of refinement.

With all the new media voter ballyhoo positioning mobile as the e-ticket for youth engagement, TechPresident/Personal Democracy Forum’s Michael Connery called Jott the Vote “a national application begging to go local” and nailed it when he said, “In the end, it seems to be an application screaming for more local applications.”

I second that. Seems ripe for further exploration, since there are lots of smart people out there leveraging media technology for relevance in their own lives…in fact they just launched their first Jott User Group to incorporate feedback.

Jott Links, for example, now enables you to interact with websites via phone, so on this Read/Write/Web post, commenter #2 integrated it into use with SugarStats.com diabetes management and now Jott supports Google calendar, so you can add an event to by just talking into your cell. You’ve gotta admit that’s cool…

jott-791078.jpgOk, not everyone thinks so. Daniela Capistrano, who works on the digital side of TV/film and whose pithy quips tend to bury or boost with a flick of the finger, voiced some valid challenges amidst her yawning ‘what’s all the fuss about’ style…Seems to me that for youth, the fuss is about perceived access, and the ability to engage and be counted if ‘Jott the Vote’ were ever to be refined at a local political level.

For ‘keep it simple stupid’ busy moms like me, who don’t want to hear about a new gizmo unless it can make my life EASIER, Jott has already done a great job of mashing and morphing into new levels of usability. (as a writer, capturing ideas when they ping into my brain and auto-transcribing into an awaiting e-mail is dang handy!)

When I discovered Jott initially, I’d already amused myself putting it through the paces and deciphering my own voice transcription and misheard mumblings due to traffic ambient noise.

Wouldn’t you know it? Someone’s already made a website called ‘MisJott.com’ gathering hilarious bloopers much like the ones I accidentally created myself…

Of Note: Jott Co-Founder John Pollard turned the MisJott goofs into a customer service positive/learning experience, non-defensively applauding, “Great stuff!…we welcome anything that will make us better”—talk about a CEO with a response that’s right (ahem) on target!)

Like any new media, as people find ways to configure its capabilities to serve their own lives, it will either sink or surge, and I’m betting on the latter with this one…especially with their executive’s ‘can do’ attitude.

jott-logo.jpgJott the Vote admittedly DID have a tint of over-promise, when I received the e-mail saying, “We have used Jott technology to allow voters all over our great country to easily and readily communicate with those running for President”—Because when I played with it a bit, it was more of a social network opinion-fest than an insightful tool, and I was never fully clear how it would route to the campaigns and to whom (a slush pile of sift-n-sorts?) but I still think it’s a clever idea.

I wouldn’t be surprised if MoveOn or someone else like that taps into the mobile-political arena to revamp it into a useful petition widget for voter views, local neighborhood input on a grassroots level, or mobilizing youth in ‘flash mob’ style.

Speaking of which, I MUST share this AMAZING ImprovEverywhere ‘flash mob video of 200+ people ‘freezing’ in synchronized splendor smack dab in Grand Central Station, confusing the heck outta passersby…Yowza.

Now think of how kids could apply that level of ‘group think’ to political issues or to mobilize causes like eco-activism? Powerful stuff!

Anyway, Michael Connery’s article hints at one of the big leverage points at the local level, when he says,

“Calling elected officials to discuss an issue or to ask them to change their vote on a piece of legislation can be an intimidating act. That intimidation factor probably keeps thousands of would-be-activists from taking action on any number of issues. Jott the Vote’s one-stop-shopping, and non-confrontational format could significantly lower that type of psychological barrier to participation.”

Good point… I don’t know anyone that “calls their representative” much less shows up in person. (Well, ok, I did, but I’m a passionista, and this was a couple of years back at the CCFC Washington D.C. summit where I really wanted to see the process firsthand in my Senator’s offices)—It was fascinating, watching mobile activism up close and personal in a ‘pbs-phone-bank’ kind of way…

A young, fresh-faced Capitol Hill wannabe politely tallied the dial-in calls on pending legislation as I sat in the lobby waiting for my meeting, overhearing the monologue…

Ornery imp that I am, I couldn’t resist asking, “So, what’s to keep you from marking the tally in the wrong column? How do you remove your personal bias?”

Boy wonder looked at me incredulously, “I work for the government, m’aam.”

Ahem. No comment…And he called me “m’aam” at that…Ouch.

Anyway, seems Jott the Vote derivations could be handy advocacy tools down the line, since a human voice in the ear of a politician may have more pull than those ‘click-n-send’ e-letter templates that are probably just tabulated as a numbers count.

By the way, if anyone knows how effective those e-forms are, do tell. I’ve heard a personal tweak or change of a subject line shifts it to a different ‘read’ pile, but not being a digital advocacy type, I defer to the experts, enlighten me, please?!

Jott also earned bonus points in my book for facing down the techno-trendy novelty item cache by distilling it into a focused query:

“What do you think about the rise of mobile in politics and otherwise? How can it best be leveraged for human good? What issue(s) or candidate(s) best support humanity, empathy, and compassion?”

Since they’ve clearly ditched the politics and amped up the transcription features into new forms, it seems they’re trying on new Jott ideas in hands-on ‘wouldn’t it be cool if…’ mindsets.


Now, just by speaking into your phone, you can Jott to Amazon, name a gift, and it’ll send you an e-mail with your options. Remind yourself to buy a Valentine, or call mom on a given day and it will zap you an e-mail and text your phone in sort of a ‘Jott Jolt’ for the memory bank.

They also show how Jott Links work by sending a short voice message to be transcribed directly to your microblog like I wrote about here on using Tumblr or Twitter.

Granted, I’m not so sure I want to trust voice transcription for e-commerce yet since it sometimes fouls up just using ‘one click’ ordering on screen…and I shudder to think about what might show up on my blog with some of my prior transcription boo-boos, but like any new media tool, it’s all about refinement.

What would you use Jott for to make your life easier?

For me, it’s definitely still those ‘thoughts at weird times’…out walking the dog…on my bike…in traffic…reminding myself to pay the Visa bill, line up a sitter, or create the next media literacy platform in a virtual world bestowing avatar media powers in-game or in-hand, mobile-social style. (Featured soon: Minyanland, a new kids’ virtual world to teach money management and financial literacy, inside of the infotainment site Minyanville)

Meanwhile…if someone could Jott me some VC social entrepreneur funding recommendations, THAT would sure make my life easier…But that will surely get lost in translation…


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