“Ms. Palin frightens me both for my country and for my grandchildren.” — Jane B., 73
In late August, Lyra Kilston, 31, and Quinn Latimer, 30, two not-very-political editors for Modern Painters magazine, found themselves suddenly immersed in the Presidential campaign. Enraged over the selection of Governor Sarah Palin as the Republican vice presidential nominee, they sent an e-mail to 40 friends.
“We are not against Sarah Palin as a woman, a mother, or, for that matter, a parent of a pregnant teenager, but solely as a rash, incompetent, and all together devastating choice for Vice President,” the New Yorkers wrote. “She was chosen by John McCain specifically because he believes that American women will vote for any female candidate regardless of their qualifications. He is wrong.”They encouraged their friends to look beyond the patina of politics and focus on the woman selected to fire up the female vote.
To their great surprise, they had 10,000 e-mail responses in ten days. They wanted to give voice to as many responses as they could, showing that they were not alone. With the help of a friend, they designed a website that, like them, is artful in execution and deliberate in tone.
It’s just a few days until the election and the accidental activists are up to 200,000 responses. They continue to pour in, at a rate of about one per minute.
Running a blog is a job in itself. Fortunately for the duo, who continue to work their full-time jobs, Kilston’s parents, Steve and Vera Kilston, help moderate (they read through everything that comes in) and quantify (categorize, i.e. an average of two percent of the responses are from pro-Palin people). The senior Kilstons’ analytical skills (her father is an astronomer and mother is an engineer) come in handy.
Sympathizers to the two-month old blog, like MoveOn.org Executive Director Eli Pariser, offered strategic and financial support early on; and New Media Producers, Kathryn Velvel Jones and Charlie Oliver, took the viral-letter to the next level and added audio and video to a live webathon broadcast. Performers lent their voice and human presence to the comments and can be seen and heard on YouTube.
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