New NPI Report on "Mobile Media in 21st Century Politics"

We just released a terrific new report today on mobile media in politics that you can get in pdf form on the New Politics Institute website. It's written by Tim Chambers, one of our new fellows who has been posting on this NDN blog, and his business partner, Rob Sebastian. You can go there directly through the links above, or read the preface that I wrote to get an overview below:

The impact of new Internet tools on politics is getting all the attention in the fall of 2006, but a whole new terrain is opening up that will also have big political consequences in the year or two ahead. The mobile phone has evolved from simply a voice communicator to a hub for mobile media. That small screen on your phone is beginning to take its place alongside the personal computer and television as an important way to connect to Americans.

Each of these screens has unique capabilities that can be used in politics. Mobile phone media, unlike media channeled through TV and PCs, allow people to connect anytime, anywhere. Today 80 percent of voting age Americans have mobile phones and an increasing number are becoming savvy at using them to create and consume media.

Some constituencies are more savvy or dependent on mobile phones than others. Two key groups in are of special concern to progressives. Any majority political movement of the early 21st century will need to connect to the massive young generation of Millennials, and the booming population of Hispanics. Both groups are among the top users of mobile phone media.

The development of mobile media is not going to take place in the distant future. As this report points out, mobile media has already proved to have had big political impacts in other countries, and it played a key role in the immigration demonstrations all over the United States this spring. Now is the time for progressive political practitioners to start to engage this new technology and media. The report ends with seven concrete steps to begin mastering this new world.

The very first step, though, is to get an overview of the whole booming field by reading this comprehensive paper. It is filled with startling facts and figures that will help even those who think they understand what is going on:

Did you know that mobile video services already reach more users than the 8th largest cable operator in the country? That by 2008 as many as 30 percent of wireless phone users will not own a land line? (What will political pollsters do?) That last year U2’s Bono got 800,000 people to sign up for the One Campaign to eradicate poverty by sending a test message through their mobile phones at his concerts?

Much is already happening, but much more is to come. The New Politics Institute wants to help progressives figure this out. This report was done by one of the New Politics Institute’s new fellows, Tim Chambers, and his business partner Rob Sebastian in a new wireless company. They are generously passing on what they know to up the game of the progressive movement as a whole.

Peter Leyden
Director of the New Politics Institute