It started as a glimmer in the eye of one Charity Tensel: why not put together an event for all the online and new media types out there, people who have connected up with the campaign digitally but not physically? Why not reach out to Facebook folks, Twitterites, the digital film people, the bloggers and online marketers. So we decided, why not?
And so yesterday we finally got it together, at the New Moon Cafe in Burlington, what we hope will be the first of a series of casual get-togethers for people interested in the digital side of Vermont’s future.
And in one way, it was like getting the band back together.
We got to hook up with old friends from the early days of blogging, back through the mists of time, circa 2005. People like Haik Bedrosian, my new fellow Commissioner on the Burlington School Board, and Charity herself, who’s back at the blogging with a very nicely designed new template under the name Shatter Nicely.
And people like top Washington blogger Steve Benen, of Political Animal fame, who also happens to double as just another regular guy from Essex. Benen’s latest smash hit? Coining the phrase “Former half-term Governor” to refer to Sarah Palin, a meme that dropped into an SNL skit just a few weeks back. Which is not easy for a meme to do.
And this State Senate campaign wasn’t the only people-powered new media campaign represented: NTodd Pritsky, currently running hard for the House up in Franklin County, brought his youngest by for a muffin. A child raised in the ancient ways of the Grateful Dead, this boy will run all electronic media in Vermont by the year 2025.
Many smaller, nimbler, hungrier digital start-ups represented. Two cases in point: Anna Palmer (left) and her company WinWinApps, facing off against Rich Nadworny of Digilicious, a marketing firm specializing in new and social media. Very smart folks making their way in a very competitive field. And doing it with style.
Matt Goudey, our campaign videographer, doubles as a consultant on computer issues, turns out. Matt and Selene Colburn, campaign social media maven, swapped stories about applications and code and plug-ins that no one else could quite understand.
And we had some folks who were drawn in by other, more traditional media, and God love them: Joel, left, has for no apparent reason read a couple of my novels, and Dan, right, came because he was intrigued by the mailing our campaign sent out to Essex voters a few weeks back. Nice to know that three-dimensional objects still have their place.
Of course, it wasn’t one big electronic utopia.
As mentioned earlier, the online world is a hyper-tough, competitive environment in the Year of Our Lord 2010. So occasionally it’s like a shoot-out at the OK Corral: somebody inadvertantly insults somebody’s operating system or cellphone cover, and things get tense.
Actually Trav (left) and Steve (right) got along just fine, but if they hadn’t, tireless intern Mark (middle) was prepared to throw himself into the scrum.
In all it was a great night, with a lot of conversation about digital access in the state; communication between Montpelier and voters; how the school board, in Burlington and elsewhere, should or shouldn’t communicate, should or shouldn’t use cameras in hallways; and finally, how small digital start-ups can power a resurgance of jobs in Chittenden County, and how we can help them help us.
Thanks to all who helped organize: Rich, Charity, Selene. Thanks as always to star campaign photographer Kathy FitzGerald, for all the fantastic shots, only a fraction of which are shown here. And thanks to all who ate more than their share of muffins, thus saving me and my own family from pastrying ourselves into a stupor.
Look for AWOL II sometime in July.
That’s right. Just when you thought it was safe to go back into the coffee shop.
Late Update, 11:15 pm:
Haik has a write-up of the New Moon event up over at Burlingtonpol, and NTodd gives his over at That’s what VDB calls rapid response politics.