Monday, September 24, 2007

The Revolution Will Be Texted?

Newsweek spotted the trend back in August 2006:

As bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers perform on stage this month, representatives from the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund will peddle their policy, encouraging people in the crowd to use their cell phones to send the text message "MABO"—for Move America Beyond Oil—to a special number, or short code. The phone numbers of text-messagers will be compiled with specialized software, and NRDC Action Fund will follow up with those enthusiastic texters to enlist support for its MABO petition, which lobbies for specific policies aimed at reducing American oil dependence.

While NRDC Action Fund is ahead of the tech game here in the United States, text messaging, or SMS (for Short Message Service), in politics is hardly new elsewhere in the world. Opponents of Philippine President Joseph Estrada mobilized their supporters via text message as early as 2001, and a massive texting campaign was credited with boosting youth turnout in Spain's 2004 presidential elections. More recently, Mexico's president-elect Felipe Calderón launched millions of text messages in the days immediately preceding his narrow win over Andres Manuel Lopez Obradór.