We've got a new feature to announce, but first, here's a quick update on how the last election went. While we did not meet our goal of getting 10% of the San Francisco electorate to use DemDash last November, with the help of our LoudSauce crowdfunded ad campaign, we did reach a little over 2% of the voters that voted in the election. Not the huge win we were hoping for, but a great experiment. We knew this but now we have more data: it is just plain hard to get the average voters we've been targeting interested any time before the last few days -- at least not for a local election.
There's a whole pile of reasons why we're not going to quit, but the main one is that the fundamentals haven't changed: voters (starting with young folks) simply are not going to keep make voting decisions based on piles of mail and TV ads forever, and we're sure we've got a good start at what a replacement is going to look like. Eventually, the $5B+ political communications industry IS going to be disrupted. We're pretty sure our approach is the closest to solving the problem for the end-user/citizen, so while we have a long way to go, we're on the right track.
Now it's time to pick up some steam, and we're happy to announce the release of a new feature: DemDash Pins. Pins are an accessible and slower-paced way of organizing and sharing information about big ideas, candidates, and whatever else you fancy.
This is our first tool designed primarily to be used away from an election. We've had some kind of link-sharing apparatus in mind to build for months, but it was Pinterest's wonderful user experience that finally inspired us to figure it out. What we're releasing now is a quick hack: really a sketch of the feature. It's definitely rough but it took less than a week of part time work to get a basic version up, and then it's been a couple more weeks of some light user testing and poking at it. There's a lot of obvious and awesome stuff that Pinterest does that we're not doing yet, like sets, and comments on pins. That's coming soon but we're probably taking a quick detour into some candidate organizing tools soon that we're super excited about first.
Adding pins is probably the roughest part, it's still definitely a lot more tricky than it could be. But we hope you'll give it a try anyway for one simple reason: if you are reading this, we are deeply curious about what you think is important! And we have some other kinds of media that we want to support in pins, such as Soundcloud links, that we'll hopefully have up soon.
There are two specific use cases that triggered wanting this feature. The first was this great, in-depth piece of reporting on Mitt Romney's time at Bain Capital. This is exactly the kind of reporting that gives real insight into what kind of vision a candidate has for the country... and gets completely lost in the back and forth, horse-race, freak show coverage of the 24-7 cable news and social media firehose spew cycles. We hope that pins are going to have a slower pace, and be a pleasant, easy to use and very much more accessible source of information.
The second use case comes from a conversation with my Dad. A news magazine had run a big cover story about how terrifying and impossible to fix the national debt is. But I asked him about the graph that had been going around about the origins of the debt, which he hadn't seen. And it seemed like there should be an easy to use, friendly place to get information like that.
If there's interest in this feature, we'll link it up to the candidate database soon. What this means is that the more activist-focused segment of the DemDash community will have a chance to pick the most important articles about candidates that regular voters will read later in the campaign cycle. And someone who wants to get up to speed on ideas (like inequality) and movements (like Occupy, and since we're nonpartisan, it'd be great to see some Tea Party links on there too) any time will have a good place to go for them.
Please give it a try. Add a pin you'd like to share, and let us know how it goes!