Why “Getting it” Matters

OK… I’m a card-carrying member of the American Library Association, and it’s voting time again. Every year, we vote for a president (and a lot of other stuff). This year, there are two candidates for ALA President – Kent Oliver and Roberta Stevens. Both fine, highly qualified people, I’m sure (though I’ve never met either one).

As a web-centric, social media loving geekboy, here’s what I noticed when I visited their websites:

Roberta Stevens:

  • Cool. She has a website.
  • Dated design … looks like a fine site from the year 1999
  • big fat Donate button (actually the first thing I noticed)
  • where’s the RSS feed … hey, wait a minute … why isn’t this a blog-based site with commenting?
  • a mish-mash of text links that point to videos, photos, podcasts, webpages, and pdf files
  • a link to a Facebook Fan page
  • Ah – there’s her blog – one of the many text links points to it.
  • Oops – I clicked through to her blog. She has embedded a YouTube video there …  but it broke her blog template.

Kent Oliver:

  • Cool. He has a website too. A nicely designed site, looks a bit like Obama’s recent campaign site
  • it’s a blog – the RSS feed is right there, where it should be (subscribed)
  • two quick links to platform and qualifications
  • a Donate Now button that blends in with the rest of the site
  • an embedded video (used blip.tv – coolness)
  • Flickr images, embedded on the main page so I can see them…
  • a search box!
  • no one’s commented on his blog posts yet (currently displaying big 0’s beside each post)
  • Oops – just clicked on Platform. Instead of getting his actual platform, I got two more links… same with the Qualifications link.

Honestly, once I get past all that stuff and take a peek at their actual platforms, it’s all the usual stuff (diversity, more money, support privacy, etc) – nothing that stands out as remarkably interesting to me, a lover of all things web (which is a reflection of ME, not them :-) ).

But – looking at the two lists above … who do you think “gets it?” Who either understands new online media, or at least knows who to ask for help? Will that sway my vote (and the votes of many others)? Probably so.

Yes, understanding “the new stuff” is definitely important, and can make or break a campaign.