The MicroCaster in Chief
Watching President Barack Obama work his way through the long, long inaugural day, I see a virtuoso. In each venue, at each moment, he’s broadcasting live across multiple streams of media. It’s live, well thought out, and in the moment. While the messages are carried by the major media networks, the voice speaks to the micro-community.
During the general election, Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin made the remark that “a mayor was like a community organizer, but with real responsibilities.” It was a line that drew thunderous applause from the assembled convention. It also revealed a fundamental difference in communication styles and strategies, a difference that made all the difference.
A community organizer is successful when he can connect with a small group– the microcommunity. It’s direct, it’s specific and it must be honest. The members of the community understand when they hear the ring of truth.
When Obama addresses the nation, he speaks as a microcaster directly to a host of microcommunities. He talks to you and asks you to talk to your neighbors, and to knock on doors to spread the word. It’s a political communications strategy that couldn’t possibly work. Ask any expert. Obama relied on the strong connections of the small group instead of the weak connections created by mass media. Small world theory was writ large. And it’s an approach that will move naturally from the campaign to governing.
When a great player improvises he’s not making things up out of thin air. He knows the scales, the changes, the modes, the melody, the rhythm and the audience. And from those raw materials he makes something both familiar and new.
Steve Gillmor keeps asking the question about the power of microcommunities. I think we’ve seen part of the answer today.