Obamicons, Inaugural Media, Gizmos and Facebook Feeds

sy-obamiconJan. 19-20, 2009: Gotta hand it to the new media tech whizzes to leverage Shepard Fairey’s now famous poster art into a DIY freebie keepsake that’s a heckuvalotta fun.

When I first spied the Obamicon look-alike on Joe Jaffe’s blog loooong ago, I shrugged it off, “meh, just digerati doin’ their thing with far more graphic firepower and skill sets than I have…”

Then they started popping up all over Facebook, in social media profiles, as Twitter icons, and cellphone avatars, with sayings and images as unique and stylized as the original itself. (part of my intrige was seeing how fast it would hit Urban Dictionary as a vocab term!)

You can literally upload your favorite kid, dog, or webcam shot in a jiff and whammo, put your mug on a mug and “Obamicon Me.” (I’m using mine on my Facebook profile to get in the inaugural spirit, but in classic ‘over exposure’ media mode, I’m sure it’ll flame out after it’s hit the “neatorama” comment walls awhile… )

Nonetheless, Paste Magazine has captured the Web 2.0 opportunity to engage the public in conversation, creating an entire gallery (rated by recent, most comments, popular, etc.) to add your own two cents and knock off a stamp, mousepad, tee shirt or memento of the era for yourself…

obamiconYah, yah, I know, just part of the whole Pepsi-parade brand thematics of commercialism…And yes, there are a few biting blogs talking about the “regurgitation of socialist propaganda” and some who described the poster as very ‘party politik’ with a hard K in Kremlin style…

I guess I fall into the ‘girls just wanna have fun’ Cindi Lauper retro mode with a wink and a nod that it’s not MEANT to be media analysis fodder with any deep moral imperative about Big Brother or ‘what’s to come’ in an era of change.

It’s just FUN! Why? Because WE can do it!

Yes, WE can.

Regular ol’ Joes not fancy schmansy designers…

Try it, kids! ‘Old media thinking’ would have us all analyzing the use fees and graphic rights and who owns what…New media is all about open-source digital sharing and improving on concepts and ideas with humorous tweaks and imaginative results (providing no one gets hurt, displaced or steps on the brand entirely).

Which reminds me…

Do you think Shepard Fairey got a ‘use fee’ or residuals of some sort, or just exposure (fame/fortune?) from his newly branded icons being minted, like the new MLK Google graphic on the search page today? (which I loved, as a creative director, btw)

I suppose that’s an ‘old media’ question…in a new era of change.

Still, as Obamicons start permeating WiiChat lounges and on blogs with intricate variations like this motorcycle from the TFT blog (The Frustrated Teacher) and the brand identity design gurus, it’s only a matter of time before proliferation occurs and it’ll ‘jump the shark’ as kids move on to the ‘Next Great Thing.’

More on THAT tomorrow…Meanwhile, I think I’ll create another one!

Hat tip to Michele Martin and Beth Kanter in the nonprofit sphere for pointing me to the site itself and clearing up the mystery of the little icons as they multiplied like rabbits…Oblige!

Related Resources

Today’s Top Ten Obamicon Posters from Paste Mag

40 More Obamicons (I like #36, sums up my mood lately with these computer probs!)

And just for fun: Paste Mag ‘casts the presidents’ —A cartoon look-alike pictoral

From Tech Crunch: ‘Where to Watch’ : Media Moments of the Inauguration

There will be plenty of livestreams of the Inauguration at all the media sites mentioned above. Some of the sites offering livestreams include:

Hulu: Will be streaming live, Fox.com will also be using Hulu’s stream.
C-Span: Washington D.C.’s video standby will have four live feeds to choose from.
CNN.com: Partnering with Facebook so you can see your friends’ status updates while watching.
Current TV : Will add a Twitterstream to its coverage.
Ustream.tv: This stream will also be available on your iPhone, great for those along the parade route too far away to see the main stage.
—Starbucks and movie theaters: For those who cannot make it to Washington, MSNBC is hosting screenings of the inauguration in movie theaters and Starbucks across the country (although it looks as though these are already sold out).
Joost is also broadcasting the inauguration live.
Obama Girl is streaming her coverage on Stickam.

Where To Share & A Few Fun Gizmos to Track Campaign Promises & Such/TechCrunch

—Twitter: Just search for “inauguration” or “Obama”. The chatter has already started.

NPR Inauguration Report: Run by NPR’s social media desk, it will be collecting dispatches from spectators via Twitter, Flicr, YouTube, and text message. All Tweets or text messages that start with “#inaug09” or “#dctrip09” will be included in NPR’s feed, as well as Flickr photos and YouTube videos tagged “inaug09” or “dctrip09.” There are also an accompanying iPhone and Android apps called IR09, Inauguration Report 2009 (more details here).

CNN/Microsoft 3D Photosynth: People at the inauguration can upload their photos and Microosft will combine them into a 3D panoramic Photosynth (more details here).

Citizen’s Briefing Book: Got a policy suggestion for the transition team? Submit one or vote for the best ones at Change.gov

Where Were You?: A video contest sponsored by Memelabs that will let people share where they were on this historic day.

Inauguration Report 2009: Submit your own report to NPR with text, photos, or audio. Reports post straight to NPR’s Inauguration feed (see above).

PointAbout 2009 Presidential Inauguration Guide: Free app with a countdown to the inauguration, distance to the inauguration steps, and lets you navigate Washington, D.C. with maps of public transport, parking, free WiFi zones, and a Zagat’s restaurant guide for the city.

CrashTheInauguration (same as above, but on your iPhone).

—Change (U.S.) Politics (iTunes link). Cast your approval rating of the Obama administration across 14 issues

—PolitFact’s Obameter: Obama made more than 500 promises during the election campaign. Track how many he keeps with the Obameter.

1-20 Update: More from TechCrunch; here’s their update on which ones work well.

Finally, here’s a cool ‘verbal-linguistic’ ditty of the most common words uttered in the campaign, turned into a visual graphic depiction from neoformix.

Wild, huh?

1-20 Update AGAIN: I’m watching the CNN Live/Facebook stream and duly impressed with the media seamlessness in ‘you are there’ mode.

Ypulse.com lists a large portion of the tween/teen sites here: (add your own)

Disney in D.C. (Starting tonight Disney/ABC will cover several family-friendly inaugural events including “Kids’ Inaugural: We Are the Future,” a concert that will honor military families and be attended by Michelle Obama and Jill Biden. The concert will be simulcast on Radio Disney and Disney.com) (Cynopsis Kids)

Nickelodeon covers its first inauguration (After an impressive voter turnout for their own online election –around 2.2 million kids!– Nick decided to extend their “Kids Pick The President’ coverage to the inauguration by following young reporters on the scene and airing clips and interviews between programs and during commercial breaks) (AOL News)

Children’s PressLine sends 13 young journalists (to cover the inauguration. The not-for-profit organization that teaches journalistic skills to kids eight to 18 started their coverage on January 16th with their work running in various newspapers across the country)

Allykatzz welcomes Malia and Sasha Obama (to the White House with a “Best Of” tween spots in D.C. based on a survey of tween girls in the area) (Allykatzz.com)

WeeWorld.com offers a virtual celebration (where members can either attend the world’s official inauguration party, or plan an event of their own. Either way, many avatars are sure to be rocking the virtual Obama memorabilia created to commemorate the date)

ChannelOne offers a special in-school inaugural edition (for middle and high school teachers to air for their students) (Cynopsis Kids)

College Students/Twentysomethings
MTV hosts the “Be The Change Inaugural Ball” (with ServiceNation to celebrate the record-breaking youth-voter turnout and young people’s additional efforts to make an impact through positive change. The “Be the Change Inaugural Ball” will be televised live across all MTV platforms, including MTV, MTV2, MTV Tr3s, mtvU, MTV Hits, MTV Jams and MTV.com) (MTV News)

Here’s more on Student Curriculum from ASCD Smart Brief: from the Success for All Foundation:

Few more for ya via Ad Age(subscription req)

I think the international and muslim world/middle east sites will make for interesting exploration too…In addition to the usual suspects: New York Times and Washington Post etc. Here ya go: Al Jazeera English and Livestation (International feeds from Al Jazeera, C-Span, BBC, euronews, France 24, Russia Today).

ASCD Smart Brief   Educators celebrate education’s prominence in Obama’s address

1-21 “President Barack Obama on Tuesday included education as one of the country’s great challenges, indicating the topic may be a priority for him as he called for Americans to work together to transforms schools for the 21st century. “Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many,” Obama said in his speech. “Everywhere we look, there is work to be done. … We will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age.” Education Week (premium article access compliments of Edweek.org) (1/20)



  1. “Watching the Inauguration with all my Facebook Friends.” (TechCrunch piece above)

    I’d like to hear stories from the various kids at different schools across the country to hear how (or if?) this was incorporated into the curriculum for the day?

    TV, computer projector via LCD screen, discussion and print newspapers? Pls. chime in!

    Thanks! –Amy

  2. I have a huge post planned for today but can’t seem to pull myself away from all of the media coverage and student curriculum tidbits that keep coming in to me…So I think I’ll keep listing sources above rather than start anew!

    I’m pretty amazed that the media has been so seamless and I’ve got multiple tabs open reading the POV (point of view) internationally and regionally about the live streams and the feedback about all the inaugural hoopla.

    Most of the criticism is swirling around the big bucks going into the events vs. toward the debt problems, so there are lots of financial chatter forums…but the energy, hope and promise of youth voices trump any power whining partisanship and adult negativity, which is refreshing in itself.

  3. Here’s the Ad Age coverage of CNN’s financial/branding stake in today’s inaugural coverage:

    (I’m still watching live…)

    “Cisco, Sprint, Exxon Mobil and Vestas Wind Systems have all signed on as integrated sponsors for the inauguration coverage on CNN and CNN.com, with more than 20 additional advertisers purchasing airtime on TV throughout the day and 18 advertisers buying ads online.

    Greg D’Alba, CNN’s exec VP-chief operating officer of ad sales, said the total client list is the largest the network has ever had for any one- or two-day event. “The election trail was more than any of us bargained for in many ways. Our brand became more, our coverage became more, the viewers became more and our users became more,” he said. “This is about the attraction and the empowerment of a brand. It’s no longer about a single medium; it’s about a network.”

    Similar strategies
    CNN’s event-based sponsorship strategy is mirrored by MTV and BET, which have recruited sponsors such as Verizon, Target and Procter & Gamble for their inauguration coverage.

    But it’s also markedly different from that of its main competitor, Fox News, which recently told Ad Age sibling TV Week its plans to focus its sales and marketing efforts on three new shows launching later this month rather than one day of inauguration coverage. MSNBC, which like CNN experienced its highest-rated year among adults 25 to 54, has also sold out its inaugural sponsorship packages.

    Overall 2008 was a banner year for the cable news networks, which gained their largest share of news coverage against their broadcast competitors, particularly among the key advertiser demographics of 18 to 49 and 25 to 54. Fox finished the year with an average of 497,000 adults 25 to 54 in prime time. CNN was No. 2, with an average 455,000 viewers in the demo, followed by MSNBC, with 369,000.

    New goal
    If the initial fear among the cable news networks was sustaining their record ratings growth after Nov. 4, the new goal for CNN is to build a lasting audience around the “First 100 Days,” the brand for CNN’s daily coverage from Inauguration Day through the end of April. But Mr. D’Alba expects the viewer interest to continue even longer than that. “We know it wasn’t a six-month event, and we know it wasn’t a one-year event. We used to talk in terms of the inauguration as the first 100 days. Now we certainly talk in terms of the first 365 days,” he said.”

  4. Here’s the latest from the Obamicon graphic utility…amazing little gizmo judging by their traffic. Check out these numbers:

    “Dear Obamicon’er,

    Thank you for being part of the Obamicon.Me phenomenon. We knew we had a fun idea when it hit us, but we had no idea we’d get this kind of response. In less than two weeks, we’ve had millions of page views and nearly 200,000 Obamicons have been created–and activity grows by the hour.

    If you haven’t visited the site lately, you may not know about a few new features we’ve launched or about a special offer from our partner, Zazzle, that expires tonight.

    1) Paste has partnered with Zazzle.com to make it possible to put *your Obamicons* on a wide variety of cool products: T-shirts, mugs, postcards, posters, bumper stickers, mousepads, postage stamps, business cards and more! You can customize them and even choose new products with your Obamicon on them.

    In honor of the inauguration, they are offering a special $4.40 discount on all shirts that expires tonight (to get the discount, use code: 440SHIRTSALE). Just log In to your account and head to the “My Profile” page. Mouse over any of your Obamicons and click the “Order” button to be taken to a page with all the options! Get started at http://obamicon.me/.

    2) We’ve launched a Facebook application that lets you share your Obamicon with your friends. You can even post your Obamicons to your Facebook photo gallery and easily make one your profile pic. The link to ObamiconMe on Facebook is on our website, or you can go there directly: http://apps.facebook.com/obamiconme/.

    3) Follow us on Twitter for updates: http://twitter.com/obamiconme

    The creativity that our little tool has unleashed will last well beyond the inauguration, and we’ll keep adding features like community tools and new concepts for “webicons.” Stay tuned (or tooned, if you prefer).

    Finally, please bear with us on the speed of Obamicon.Me. Our Facebook application may be particularly affected. We’ve more than quintupled our capacity since we launched, but each new server is at capacity within a couple minutes of coming onboard. We’ll keep fine-tuning and we should settle into a manageable capacity soon.

    Paste & the Obamicon.Me team

    P.S. If you’d prefer not to receive any more communications from Obamicon.Me, just reply to this email with the word “unsubscribe” in the subject. Know, however, that you are not on a “mailing list.” You’ll only hear from us a few times for major announcements. We also respect your privacy and will never sell your email address. We hate spam as much as you do.”

  5. Congratulations,

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  6. Well, gosh, thanks…I’ll look into your site further…meanwhile, thank you for the honor, as I sure agree with you on your last line re: the SEO bit…we’re a nonprofit labor of love indeed.

    I’m wondering why you wouldn’t place that comment on one of our childhood obesity posts which I’ll soon be renaming to a “wellness” category for kids encompassing everything from nutrition to socioemotional issues…So you beat me to the punch by honoring us in the ‘wellness’ world! Stay tuned for a new piece I’ll be writing on Frank Baker’s media literacy curricula for kids on the diet/weight loss bit and how to counter-market some of the messages being sent to kids in ‘you’re not good enough’ surround sound! 🙂

    Here’s to a healthy new year and fresh new start for us all…

  7. Tracy Mitrano of Cornell’s piece in Wired Chronicle about her advice to Obama on the tech global landscape:

    “Internet Policy in a Time of Economic Uncertainty”

    Here’s the article in full…but you’ll have to get the pithy commentary from the Wired Chronicle profs directly on their subs. site…sigh.

    “In this time of global economic uncertainty, comparisons to the Great Depression abound. As we look back to this time, we should be clear about its lessons. For example, some people may assume that the New Deal fixed the fiscal problems. But as any student of that period knows, it was the Second World War, not the New Deal, that re-primed the economic pump. Still, as wartime production blended into the postwar boom, it did so on a far more stable basis, one enabled by the regulatory framework established by the New Deal: resetting the relationship between government and the private sector, allowing better conditions for workers, and redirecting revolutionary political tendencies back to the center through reform. In fact, many economic historians suggest that the postwar economy was possible only because the New Deal laid this regulatory groundwork. If we forget this lesson, we do so to our peril, lest we miss the opportunity that today’s crisis presents for us to rethink the meaning and role of policy for the future of the United States. Internet policy is not least in this equation, not only because it involves the most innovative and multidimensional technology—significantly affecting law, social norms, and the market—but also because it has the potential to reconfigure policy in a number of interrelated areas such as international relations, commerce, communications, and global democracy.

    Perhaps the most important yet overlooked lesson from the era of the Great Depression is that it was a time of transition from an agrarian to an industrial global economy. Before reforms in the United States, or similar ones abroad, even the most developed countries did not have the right combinations or complexity of relationships between government and the free market to order industrial production on an international scale. From this perspective, we gain a clearer understanding of what animated the grand ideological (communism versus capitalism) and political (colonialism versus independence) conflicts of the twentieth century. At the end of the Second World War, the emergence of the once-maligned “welfare state” created a broader foundation for modern industrial production, at least sufficient to realize the hopes of the eighteenth-century democratic revolutions to create a middle-class society. Moreover, this progress offered developing nations a template for social and economic advancement that has guided progress throughout the latter part of the twentieth century.
    A transition from an industrial to an information economy underpins the current crisis. Global economies neither know nor appreciate how to monetize information, how to align it with traditional forms of financial transactions, instruments, or tax conventions, how to accelerate the production of goods and services on an international scale, or even how to create fair workplaces, conditions, and wage and hour rules in a “flat” world. It is no wonder that the major policy issues of our day—global warming and sustainability, international health care and education, urbanization and overpopulation—overwhelm us. We do not have a framework to wrap our collective minds around an understanding of the issues in connection with each other in order to formulate clear, overarching policy.

    Most important, we must integrate what currently goes under the label of “Internet policy” into a global perspective on these pressing issues. The following are some of the specific Internet-related policy needs: a coherent, subsidized approach to broadband deployment; the proper implementation of “net-neutrality” rules; electronic surveillance laws that are commensurate with contemporary technologies and that, as a constitutional matter, privilege privacy while respecting appropriate law enforcement measures; intellectual property laws that balance innovation and incentive while considering the requirements of developed and developing areas to have access to cultural material without having to pay premiums to developed countries; and a redefinition of jurisdiction commensurate with the global Internet and corresponding substantive law appropriate to the conflicts that arise in cyberspace. How people around the world communicate, innovate, and create culture on the Internet, together with rules for business and social behavior, will support progressive environmental, health, and education initiatives. In a networked world, everything is up for discussion: from choosing videoconferencing strategies that will reduce the extraordinary fossil fuel emissions created by aviation travel, to establishing global universities that will enable collaborative collections, teaching, learning, and outreach missions, to formulating new market models that will remunerate artists and the delivery of content no matter the medium. We need more thoughtful and complex rules to strike a balance between setting global standards for free speech and respecting local customs.

    Finally, to accomplish these goals in the United States, we need a new Internet-specific government agency. Modeled on old technologies and outmoded trade practices, the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Trade Commission, respectively, do not have adequate understanding, scope, or proverbial horsepower to address the multifaceted, complex questions that a global Internet raises today. Questions range from issues related to personal privacy, international diplomacy, and intellectual property based on real property, to new concepts of cyber-dollars woven into the value of user contributions and virtual worlds and the deployment of an evenly monetized global information economy. The United States, as an international leader, must establish neither a “czar for intellectual property” nor a “point person for the Internet” but rather a dedicated federal agency on par with those that exist already populated with people who truly understand the historical significance of this technology and its transformative potential in so many areas, from ideology through education and the global economy.

    Charting the connections between Internet-related and other policy issues will not by itself reenergize the economy. Quite a broom will be needed to sweep away the old paradigms, even as they have largely exhausted themselves in misguided wars, financial ruin, or even ethical turpitude. But human nature has a way of regenerating itself to create openings for ingenuity in business, the arts, law, and technology. For meaningful ingenuity to flourish, we must lay the groundwork to conceptualize a global regulatory policy that is interlaced with today’s key Internet-related issues. And that is the most important lesson of the New Deal: we must take the time now to lay a functional and equitable economic, legal, and cultural foundation for the prosperity of tomorrow. “

    Tracy Mitrano is Director of Information Technology Policy and Computer Policy and Law Programs at Cornell University.

  8. Didn’t post today as the system is switching servers and such…off and on all week…

    But wanted to add this link to today’s TechCrunch critique of the live streaming bit…Oddly enough, mine worked fine (even on a loaner system) and I never experienced this glitch described:


    “When it comes to big live events with millions of people watching at the same time, traditional TV broadcasters have nothing to worry about. Right now, the Internet breaks at about one million simultaneous streams. That is nothing when it comes to the audience size for historic events, or even a big football game. The Internet simply does not shine when it is used as a broadcast medium. And yesterday proved it.”

    I was one of the “record 21.3 million streams” of CNN.com alone…and I had no problem at all…It was quite fun, actually…

    TC explains CNN had a peak of 1.3 million simultaneous streams, Akamai reported a peak of 5.4 million simultaneous visitors per minute to the various news sites for which it hosts video, and more than 7 million simultaneous streams.

    And yes, most of the students watched it on plain ol’ TV not the internet.

    As always, I don’t think it’s an ‘either/or’ dilemma…just as books won’t vanish, neither will TV…the preferences and ways of accessing media are as unique as the media mavens themselves, n’est ce pas?

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