2012 Government Selection Committee for Code for America

I’m helping out the awesome Code for America project as they figure out which cities should be a part of their next program year.

19 governments applied for our 2012 program, and it’s amazing to read about their project ideas, challenges, and passion for changing the way things work. As a growing start-up, we can only work directly with a handful next year, which is why they are selected through a competitive process. To help us evaluate these great proposals, we have put together a committee of government, industry, and thought leaders.

LAUNCH: New Web Site for US Senate Candidate David Hoffman

Today I launched a new Web site for US Senate candidate David Hoffman.

David Hoffman, Democrat for US Senate_1256839790012

Here’s the blog post I wrote for the launch:

October 27, 2009

Tour Our New Web Site

Today we launched our new campaign Web site. Here’s a look at the features and content. Most importantly, we’d like invite you to contribute to it in meaningful ways.

David on the issues

We’ve heard from lots of voters that they’re ready to back a candidate that is not associated with politics as usual, but they want to hear more about what he’ll do as our next Senator. Here’s what David has to say about Financial Regulation, Health Care, and many more important issues of the day. If there is an issue that you believe should be addressed, write to us at info@hoffmanforillinois.com.

See David on video

David has been storming the state and appearing on television, talking about the issues and letting people know where he stands. If you want to get to know more about David, you can see him talking on Chicago’s West Side about how he has fought gun violence, talking to Champaign County Democrats about corruption in Illinois, and an interview with Carol Marin on Chicago Tonight.

Join the conversation with Twitter

Lots of campaigns tweet, with one-way posts that link to press releases. We see that Twitter can be an essential source for organized discussion on the Web. We highlight three types of tweets right on our homepage– from the campaign, what people are saying in the #hoffman4IL hashtag, and what people are asking using @hoffman4IL. This allows anyone on Twitter to publish directly to our the bottom of every page on our Web site, including the homepage. If you don’t have a Twitter account or have any idea what it is, they have a great video and other helpful information on their site. Please note that we welcome all voices here, but we won’t tolerate hateful, violent, spam, or otherwise off-topic tweets. Don’t worry– if we remove your right to publish to our site, you’ve still got the whole rest of the World Wide Web to work with. We’re interested in hearing about the issues that matter to you and other Illinoisans. Please join us!

Flickr feed

We think we’ve integrated our Flickr account pretty nicely. We plan more ways to show support for David and engage photographers from all over Illinois in the future. We’re a member of Illinois-oriented photo groups on Flickr like Enjoy Illinois.


One of the challenges for a campaign like ours is getting the word out about David. The more people know about him, the more they like him. So if you visit our site and are signed in to Facebook, you may see people you know who support the campaign. Join them on Facebook now.

In real life

We know that the world doesn’t begin and end on the Internet. Our Web site is just one tool for us in winning the election in February. We need your help– here on the Web, door-to-door, person-to-person. Please volunteer to help out in any way you can.

Contact us

If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact me at any time– danx@hoffmanforillinois.com.

Daniel X. O’Nei
lNew Media Director
Hoffman for Illinois

And a pretty comprehensive blog post covering a major new feature:

Adventures In Campaign Twittering

As some may have noticed, our campaign coverage has taken a back-seat to some other issues in the past month.  Expect it to ramp back up at the beginning of next week.In the meantime, those interested in the intersection of social media and political campaigns should check out a feature on U.S. Senate David Hoffman’s newly-redesigned website.
First some background: From a technological standpoint, one of the notable aspects of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign was the large user community that sprung up around its website, my.barackobama.com.  Millions of users regularly flocked there because the campaign allowed them to actually publish blog posts and interact with each other on the site.
Now, in the wake of his victory, lower-level campaigns are wondering how they can build similar engagement online.  Most don’t have the resources to moderate the type of community built by Obama’s new media team.  Moreover, there just isn’t the same degree of interest in congressional or statewide races as you see during a presidential campaign.
So what other options are out there?
Many campaigns are actively using Twitter to keep followers up-to-speed on the latest developments (see Alexi Giannoulias, Cheryle Jackson, and Dan Hynes as prime examples on the Democratic side).  Now, with his new website, Hoffman is trying to up the ante by encouraging and exposing the interaction that happens on Twitter.
Towards the bottom of his homepage, his campaign has devoted an entire horizontal section to 1) tweets from the @hoffman4IL account, 2) tweets about Hoffman using the #hoffman hashtag, and 3) replies to his account for other users.What this means is that anyone with a Twitter account can write a message (assuming it is within the realm of civil discourse) that appears on the Hoffman homepage.  They just have to reply to his account or use the #hoffman hashtag.  Already one user has asked about Hoffman’s position on the “responsibility to encourage and fund the arts.”  And they received a response within an hour.It’s a creative idea and something to keep an eye on.

Here’s some more coverage:

David Hoffman On the Series of TubesIL-SEN Thu Oct 29 2009

The Illinois techie-political blogosphere is abuzz about former Chicago Inspector General and current US Senate candidate David Hoffman’s new website redesign, which includes the ability for users to post directly to the candidate’s website through Twitter hash tags–it also looks pretty damn good. Head over and check it out.

That sort of interactivity, which the Obama campaign allowed with its user pages (“demmynerd.barackobama.com”) is going to be both a major innovation and a major challenge for campaigns from here on out. How do you allow for the public to interact and take some ownership of the site without risking losing control, getting off message, or getting high jacked? Looks like the Hoffman campaign is interested in testing those waters. Good for them.

POLITICAL EMAIL: Welcome Email for US Senate Campaign

Here’s an email I created for the Hoffman For Illinois campaign today:

Dear Supporter:

Now that we have a full campaign team up and running, I wanted to introduce myself, kick off some guidelines for our communications, and give you a look at the fight ahead.

I’m Dan O’Neil, the Director of New Media for Hoffman for Illinois. I’m responsible for the online team, which includes our Web site, email communications, social networking sites, and all other online outreach. I’m aided by Mike Hardy, our Online Content Director, and Lara Sanders, our Director of Online Organizing.

You may have already heard from Lara over the last week. She has been contacting volunteers who have raised their hands and offered to help us turn the page on politics as usual in Illinois. She is also working through all emails sent to the campaign with specific suggestions for events, fundraisers, and other offers and requests. If you haven’t heard from Lara yet, expect to hear from her in the next few days. You can contact her directly at (312) 772-3539 or lara@hoffmanforillinois.com.

A Few Guidelines

We’re running a different campaign for a different candidate.

* We’d like this to be a two-way conversation. If you get a blast email, and would like to respond to us personally, by all means do! Let us know what you think about what we had to say, whether we’re contacting you too much or too little,or anything else* Our emails are written by real people, and we sign them as our own. You won’t get an email written by a campaign staffer that says it’s from David. You won’t get template pleas written by campaign finance professionals. If we’re going to do this (and we are), we’re going to do it together, and with honesty* Please feel free to forward on these emails, blog about their content, and tell your friends and family what we have to say* A good amount of our communication is via Twitter and Facebook. We like it, because it cuts down on inbox clutter, allows you to have greater control over how you get our messages, and keeps us in the context of the rest of your daily life

David on the Issues

Many of you have expressed a need to hear more from David on the issues that matter to you most. While we are getting ready to announce our formal policies on our Web site, David has already spoken out on a number of them:

* Monday morning, Eric Zorn published a post about David’s stance on gay marriage (in favor)* Last week, David sat down with Carol Marin on Chicago Tonight t o talk about the Wall Street bailout (stronger regulation needed) and the public option for health care legislation (in favor)* Also last week, David spoke about the Wall Street bailout on the Don Wade & Roma Morning Show on WLS

September 30 Filing Deadline

An important milestone in the campaign is the Federal Election Commission financial reporting deadline of September 30. We need to have a strong showing on that day to prove that we will have the support we need to win in February and beyond. David is a strong candidate, and is capable of beating back the Republican challenge for President Obama’s former Senate seat.

We accept no PAC money or contributions from State or Federal lobbyists, so please consider pledging your support for our campaign.

We’re now less than four and a half months until the Democratic Primary Election on February 2, 2010. There’s a lot of work to do. We are fullyengaged in this battle now, and we’re certain that together, we’ll win.



Daniel X. O’NeilDirector of New MediaHoffman for Illinoiswww.hoffmanforillinois.com

Website: Case Study on a Parish Weblog

I maintain the parish website at http://parish.queenofangelschicago.org/. Here’s a summary of the website strategy & structure, some stats on the site, and some thinking for the future.

Underlying strategy

  • The site launched in the Spring of 2004 after a few months of planning and development
  • There were a couple of main impetuses for the site– one was to have all of the great content from the weekly parish publication (The Guide) available on the web (this has been successful) and the other was to allow any ministry to publish their own content to the web as well (less successful)
  • In support of the “ministries can publish” strategy, I conducted a number of training sessions at the school after we launched the site. Some ministries attended. The Peace & Justice Committee, http://www.peaceandjusticechicago.com/,  were probably the most excited and they maintained a site for a while. The Respect Life Committee published for a while as well
  • Another successful site was for the Athletic Committee, http://www.chicagoknights.com/. They have stopped publishing to the site as well
  • I think one reason why few groups publish on their own is because they are so well-represented in The Guide (and therefore on the Parish homepage). So, I think the strategy was actually flawed and not the execution. It’s really too much to expect entities to maintain their own sites in a volunteer environment. They are well served with the other element of the strategy (i.e. publishing to The Guide = publishing to the web).

Underlying technology

  • I created the site myself using TypePad. I am providing the logins in the mailed version of this email for the sake of security.
  • The top banner was created by parishioner Tim Irvine
  • TypePad costs $15/ month
  • I get a copy of The Guide every week. I cut up the articles (Nothing Is Impossible With God, Announcements, and Mass Schedule & This Week at Queen of Angels). If there is a big story, I pull it out of Announcements and make it separate.  In the main, I publish as soon as I get The Guide– I’d say 70% of the time. I do lapse every once in a while and have to publish 2 at a time
  • The URL for the site is a subdomain of the school Web site:  http://parish.queenofangelschicago.org/
  • TypePad generates RSS feeds for the site. These are underutilized by parishioners– there is room for improvement here. Here’s a good primer on RSS: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/help/3223484.stm
  • There is room in our $15 TypePad account for an infinite amount of subsites and URLs

Here are some hard numbers about our website:

  • There are close to 800 pages of content on the Parish website. You can browse the entire archives here: http://parish.queenofangelschicago.org/archives.html
  • This includes every single word published in The Guide for the last 3 years
  • We currently average 73 unique visitors per day and the view an average of two pages each. In the overall world of the internet, this is not a lot of people, but in our world of Catholic parishes, it’s actually pretty good. That’s like 511 visitors to the Parish per week!
  • We get some web stats from a free service called Site Meter, www.sitemeter.com. You can get the stats just by clicking on the colored box in the left column or go here: http://www.sitemeter.com/?a=stats&s=sm3queenofangels
  • We also get some stats inside the TypePad tool
  • Judging from the referrers (i.e. the link that people clicked on to get to our site), a high percentage of our visitors are from search engine traffic (as opposed to parishioners or other people who know about the site and reach it by typing the URL into the browser or by a browser bookmark
  • We rank #1 for the search term, “Fr. Jim Kaczorowski”, for instance: http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=father+jim+kaczorowski
  • We also use Google Analytics for web stats: www.google.com/analytics. See the attached chart for the most popular content in the last week (highly representative of what I’ve seen through time). Here’s the list:
  1. Homepage
  2. Masses
  3. Contacts
  4. General Parish Info
  5. History
  6. Book a Wedding
  7. Links
  8. Nothing is Impossible With God

Queen of Angels Parish, Chicago