Friday, March 03, 2006

Minnesota GOP Polinaut Generating Bad Press

I actually stumbled across this story, which is linked above to the Minnesota Public Radio website. Go there and read the main web page and the linked pages. The Republican Party in Minnesota hired a consulting company that had the bright idea to send out CDs (actually probably DVDs) with interactive video on them. The viewer identifies him- or herself to the disc. The disc checks the zipcode and modifies the video presentation about the issue of defining marriage - between one man and one woman, according to the demographics. The viewer may then choose to answer questions about views on abortion and other hot-button political issues, the the presentation will be further fine-tuned. Pretty sophisticated marketing in a tight political race.

But, there is more! The information on demographics and opinions will be sent to a database maintained for the Minnesota GOP. The disc is supposed to be an automatic polling device. It's actually a pretty interesting idea. But the beta-test packaging sent out with sample discs to the media did not make it clear that it was identifying the viewer and gathering information tied to that individual. In fact, the wording seemed to be "interactive." The press was pretty shocked and outraged when they figured this out and there has been something of a little firestorm. The Governor is weighing in, all sorts of political spinning is going on, and the consultants, of course, are going to take it on the nose, right after the GOP.

Ah well, this will probably set automatic polling back decades! Too bad, for those who might have been interested. I ran across the story on another website you might want to know about if you haven't ever trolled there: Slashdot. This is a sort of blog for tech-nerds. It is busy enough that it has "lane markers." You can choose to follow threads by games (a busy area -- these are nerds!), science, or politics -- a good choice for our business, or several other areas. Visit slashdot politics at:

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