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Campaigning by Text Message

8.19.08

The cell phone—and, more specifically, the text message—is the next frontier for political campaigning and communication, Garrett M. Graff ’03, a former Ledecky Undergraduate Fellow at Harvard Magazine, wrote in a New York Times op-ed last week.

The Obama campaign's promise to announce a vice-presidential choice first via text message means those who submit their mobile numbers will be the first to know. It also means the campaign will have their mobile numbers for other purposes, such as sending a reminder to vote on election day.

Graff, an editor at Washingtonian magazine and former Webmaster for Howard Dean, is the author of The First Campaign: Globalization, the Web, and the Race for the White House. He goes beyond the simple observation that as landlines fall out of favor, text messages are the way of the future, to offer some modern technological history: the medium has already been used to galvanize support for political movements in the Philippines, Spain, and Myanmar.

After reading the op-ed, you can hear Graff discuss the same topic in a podcast.