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Foursquare on Election Day

Foursquare on Election Day 2010

When you combine politics and technology, nerds like me get excited. Today is Election Day in the U.S. and the folks at Foursquare have created a visual map of users’ check-ins at their polling place. While Foursquare users win another badge, the public (and campaigns) can watch voting unfold moment by moment with each vote cast.

For political campaigns running “Get out the vote” operations on Election Day, this is potentially a useful tool to track voting day trends. Though there doesn’t seem to be a huge level of participation, I imagine that campaigns can leverage this platform to engage the voters who always show up at the polls.


Just How Big is the BP Spill?

Sometimes problems are so big, it’s difficult to describe them with numbers. For me that’s been the case with the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. For example, tonight I read a USA Today story which reported that the spill covers 29,000 square miles.

How big is that exactly?

Paul Rademacher, has created a site using the Google Earth API to let you overlay the current size of the spill area on top of any city in the world.

Check out your home town and imagine how much of your community would have to be covered in oil to be equal in size to the BP spill in the Gulf. That’s when it hit home for me — this kind of visual comparison really was extremely effective communication.

Rademacher’s site made me wonder what about what else you could use Google Earth to communicate. Perhaps the size of the path of devastation of a tornado or hurricane? The total amount of vacant square footage of all the Class A office space in New York? The total skiable terrain in Colorado last winter?

Maybe this makes sense to me because I’m a visual learner, but I don’t think I fully understood the scope of the BP spill until I stumbled upon Rademacher’s Google Earth-based site. What would you want to use Google Earth to help you communicate?

Photo credit:, Flickr

New Dorks vs. Old Dorks

Last night, I spotted a hilarious video about “New Dorks” — it’s spot on in my book. But it makes me wonder who are the old dorks? My suggestion is in the second video below.

Mr. Blue Sky

If my two years in Philadelphia for graduate school didn’t turn me into a Yankee, this winter in Washington surely will. I’ve never seen this much snow in one place — even when I ski in the Rockies each winter. My ability to cope with it makes me think I could live in Boston or elsewhere in New England and do just fine.

This morning my friend Susan, who happens to be one of the best internal communications experts I know, posted this video of ELO’s “Mr. Blue Sky” to her Facebook page.

I wanted to share it with you, too. I guarantee it will put you in a good mood. Consider it music to shovel snow by.

Thanksgiving: Our Favorite Holiday, Our Favorite Meal

I love Thanksgiving and everything about it, except for the travel to get to my family in North Carolina. (Coming back up to Washington today took an extra two hours on I-95 — and I returned on Saturday to avoid the traffic!)

While I was home, I had a chance to interview each member of my family about why we love Thanksgiving so much. I think my cousin, a natural storyteller, captures it the best.


The title for the post is “Thx” because it will be very short. I am rushing to hop in the car to drive about 8 hours to be with my family in NC for a massive Thanksgiving meal that my personal trainer hopefully will forgive me for eating.

I didn’t want to join the millions of drivers on I-95 without telling you what I’m thankful for. Continue reading

My Dream Job: NASA PR Guy

New Planets

Meet Fomalhaut b a new planet outside of our solar system. It orbits the star Fomalhaut, of course.

Earlier today I was reminded of who has the coolest media relations job in Washington, D.C., if not the world, when I read that NASA had announced that the Hubble Space Telescope had captured the first image of a planet circling another star. In fact, according to the AP, NASA has now captured images of four planets, three of them orbiting the same star, and the fourth circling a different star.

So in my job, I speak to journalists about cell phones and FCC actions. That’s pretty cool, but I don’t get to issue news releases announcing groundbreaking discoveries from space.

So today I’m announcing I’m officially jealous of someone named J.D. Harrington, the NASA spokesperson whose name was on today’s news release.