The Digi-Cult

A New Religion for a Digital Age

Posts Tagged ‘Tech News’

President of the Intertubes.

Posted by Rod Leland on November 7, 2008

“Undoubtedly Obama’s rise to the presidency will be studied for years to come as the textbook example of a new kind of electioneering driven by people and technology” -Ralph Benko, principal of the political consulting firm Capital City Partners, in Washington, D.C.

Barack Obama is now officially the president-elect of the United States, and it’s certainly no accident. Obama drew the largest voter turnout in a century.  He managed to awaken voter demographics that were dormant for many, many terms. Yes, he’s a great speaker, yes his platform is solid, and yes he’s riding the wake of a 20% approval rating for the current republican president. But what really won him the election?  The Internet and social media tools.

It’s no coincidence that Obama’s team at campaign headquarters is packed full of ambitious 20-somethings.  These same 20-somethings understood that this election is completely different because for the first time the Internet was massively, fundamentally, important.

So, Obama has a great website. It’s easy to read and navigate with a standards-compliant, clean, functional design.  However, every candidate has a website nowadays.  Where the real differences start to come is in Obama’s use of the free online social media tools like YouTube and Twitter, Barack’s use of different communication methods for different demographics, and probably most importantly, the creation of his OWN SOCIAL NETWORK.

Let’s start with the free online social media tools.  Barack leveraged all the major pre-existing Internet staples and built huge followings within each. The important metrics (at election time):

125 THOUSAND Twitter Followers (the most of all twitter users, ever)
100 MILLION Youtube Views,
865 THOUSAND Myspace Friends,
and 2.6 MILLION Facebook supporters.

It should also be noted that Obama’s Youtube channel has close to 2000 videos and in the final days of the election new videos were being released at a rate of roughly one an hour.

I think those numbers speak for themselves.

These are tools a vast majority of us already use and love.  When we can show support for, and interact with our presidential candidate, it helps immensely to build personal brand.  It’s certainly very cool to “be friends” with Obama on MySpace or receive a Tweet from Obama thanking YOU for helping to elect him.  This is why building personal brand becomes so important to help with Obama’s message.  He wants to drive home the point that every single voter matters, and the use of social media re-enforces this.  These relatively simple, passive tools that can (and most likely are) run by members of Obama’s team help personally connect voters to their candidate.

Barack and his team also used individual communication methods to contact different demographics.  For the younger voters, text messages were the weapon of choice.  Appropriately, for the older demo, clearly-worded, short, concise emails were sent out.  The personalization of campaigning helped Obama reach each generation in the best way.  In past elections, a TV spot goes out to everyone watching TV, and it’s much tougher to customize your message for a specific set of people.

picture-8On to Obama’s own Social Network. launched in the middle of February and by the end of his campaign had 1.5 Million accounts.  The social network launched pretty much without bugs and feature-complete showing again, that Obama’s team was CRUSHING the web aspect of his campaign and know the do’s and don’ts.  Through this social network, Obama’s followers arranged their own rallies, meetups, and contributed a vast amount of money that helped fuel Obama’s campaign.

In another show of web prowess, just a single day after being named president-elect, Obama launched the Obama-Biden Transition Project (as the organization is legally known) under the domain  Obama and his team know that keeping their followers in the loop via the web is not optional anymore, and this new project is a perfect example of the fact that Obama is committed to pursuing this view not just in his campaign, but in his presidency as well.

(Props to Techpresident for the killer metrics.)



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Digital Railroad Fail Update.

Posted by Rod Leland on October 30, 2008

Rob Galbraith has posted an update to the DRR Fail situation.  It seems through some negotiations, a “compromise” has been reached to (feebly) help the DRR customers whose files are still being held hostage.

“As part of the process of terminating the business operations of Digital Railroad, Diablo Management Group has informed PhotoShelter of their intent to shut down the DRR site as early as 11:59PM, PST, on Friday October 31. After this point, it is very likely that all the images located on the Digital Railroad servers could be permanently inaccessible. Given the strong possibility of this event, PhotoShelter, on its own initiative, is strongly suggesting that customers migrate their files from Digital Railroad immediately. Digital Railroad, at the present time, has no plans or resources to accomplish this task.”

Great, more time for the DRR users to trasnser the files.  Hopefully the giant outrage across the industry online had something to do with this. The problem is that this situation is still regarded as “highly fluid” and could change with no notice.  Bottom line, again, Get your stuff off the servers as QUICKLY as you can.  And sign up for a photoshelter account.

-Rod Leland

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Digital Railroad Derailed.

Posted by Rod Leland on October 30, 2008

Digital Railroad has officially shut its doors.  The service that operated for four years at the domain went offline a couple days ago.  DRR operated a service for photographers to backup, archive, and sell stock photos online.  The site had 1900 users (and even a few BIG wire services) that stored and archived thousands upon thousands of photos on the site to introduce geographic redundancy into their workflow, and to make money.

Two days ago, the admins of the site sent out an email to their users informing them that they were shutting down and had 24 hours to offload any photos they wished to keep.  This act by the higher-ups at DRR is completely out of line in my mind.  Shutting the doors is one thing, but leaving thousands of people high-and-dry with little to no notice is completely inexcusable. They likely didn’t think things through too much either, as this notice from the admins had users franticly migrating their photos for syndication elsewhere all at the same time, which inevitably crashed the servers.

There were rumblings around the middle of the month when DRR announced major shuffling of management at the company, as well as some layoffs.  It’s clear now, however, that the wheels have completely fallen off.  The phones won’t get picked up at their office. The site leaves only a paltry text-based announcement/apology.

Thankfully, I was personally unaffected by DRR’s failure.  I use a competing service, Photoshelter.  I believe in the people there, the service, the technology behind their servers, and more importantly, Photoshelter is integrated directly into my sorting/ingesting/viewing app, Photo Mechanic. Photoshelter, in yet another great business move, has built a migration tool for DRR users to help them retain their meticulously created keywords and bring the files straight across to the Photoshelter servers.  The guys over at Photoshelter have also offered to honor 3 months worth of DRR subscription, effectively giving most DRR users three free months at Photoshelter.

The final numbers aren’t in yet, but it appears photographers have had mixed results recovering their data.  Remember, because of the space constraints most photographers only keep their best-of, portfolio, crowning, one-of-a-kind shots online.  Hopefully most of the DRR users had the sense to keep their best photos stored elsewhere as well.  The loss of a carefully organized and key-word organized database is quite a loss nonetheless.

R.I.P. Digital Railroad, we barely got to know each other.

-Rod Leland

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Adobe CS4 Release Date Announced

Posted by Matt Harbottle on October 1, 2008

Adobe Systems Incorporated announced early on September 23, 2008, that the estimated release date of the Creative Suite 4 Has been set.  Creative Suite 4 (CS4), is targeting a release date for October 15, 2008.  This being Adobe’s biggest software release to date, it offers tons of new features that should catch the attention of most designers and developers worldwide.

Besides all the new features incorporated in the suite, the integration between the programs has improved further than before.  A designer can keep image and graphic integrity while moving between Photoshop and Illustrator, or move easily between After Effects, Adobe Premiere Pro, or Adobe Encore without rendering.  With this just scratching the surface, the rest of the programs within CS4 offer improved integration as well.

The new features on CS4 are too long to list , but I would like to mention a few of them that caught my attention.  First off, in the Photoshop CS4 features, they now offer content-aware scaling. Even though it seems like quite the cheat, it can be a helpful tool for designers and photographers.

Another new Feature within Photoshop CS4 is the 3D painting and composting.  This allows the user to paint directly on a 3D object.  The user can rotate the object and camera angle on the X, Y, and Z axis to a desired position.  Once the object is in place, all Photoshop tools are available to manipulate the object.  The Photoshop CS4 Extended Tour is available on the Adobe website.

The last I would like to mention is the Illustrator CS4 features, in particular the new multiple artboard feature.  A user can can create mutiple pages, varying in size, within one Illustrator file.  The Illustrator CS4 Feature Tour can also be viewed on the Adobe website.

The pre-order prices for the Creative Suite 4 range from US$999 to US$2,499, whereas the upgrade option ranges from US$399 to US$899.  Two weeks to go and I for one am starting to get excited to try out the CS4.


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I Called it.

Posted by Rod Leland on September 22, 2008

One of my favorite photographers, who is among the best in the world and I’ve met quite a few times, Vincent Laforet, just wrote a great post on his blog entitled ‘Something very interesting is coming both to this blog and our industry’

It’s essentially all about being the first photographer in North America to use and shoot the 5D MKII that I wrote about last week.  It’s as if he read my post first (we use a lot of the same terms, like ‘game-changer’).  A very good read and important to share, even if to just stoke my ego.


Coming within 48: Social Mesh Networking and Natural Disasters

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