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Obama Campaign Playfulness

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Presentation at Playful Experiences Seminar, Tampere, 4/2009

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Obama Campaign Playfulness

  1. 1. PLAYFULNESS AND TRUST IN THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN ON FACEBOOK BRINGING CIVIC ENGAGEMENT INTO PLAY Valentina Rao @ Playful Experiences Seminar, Tampere 2-3/4 2009
  2. 2. The Comeback of Play in Everyday (virtual) Life <ul><li>Huizinga: play as productive activity disappeared together with the sense of the “Holy” </li></ul><ul><li>Castronova: the Fun Revolution is bringing fun back in the agenda </li></ul>
  3. 3. INSTITUTIONAL POWER WANTS TO PLAY
  4. 4. Political communication on Facebook: the Obama campaign
  5. 5. <ul><li>Play is employed because “fun” is more viral, in a “top-down” strategy from the campaign; playful applications though emerge also from grassroots support - popular expression is playful! </li></ul>Viral Marketing or Social Play?
  6. 6. Playful Elements 1/ the Application <ul><li>An application is an “artifact”; its experience is limited in time and space; it can be a game, but also it can be just “social lubricant” or “interactive silliness” </li></ul><ul><li>Applications as playful objects stimulate a playful mood that affects the whole experience, whose goal can be non-playful </li></ul>
  7. 7. Playful Elements 2/ the Frame <ul><li>What gives the experience its semantic limits? The content? (Obama) the goal? (win the elections / make people have fun and become motivated) the space/time frame? </li></ul><ul><li>psychological frame : “we need an outer frame to delimit the ground against which the figures are to be perceived” (Bateson, 1976:127) </li></ul><ul><li>Applications as mood signs? </li></ul>
  8. 8. Embedded Playfulness 1/ the Internet <ul><li>The Internet is playful because: </li></ul><ul><li>A technology that is playful is easier to use (Littledale) </li></ul><ul><li>A playful web design increases involvement </li></ul><ul><li>Online interactions, because of their virtuality, involve the play of (self) representation and performance (Danet) </li></ul>
  9. 9. Embedded Playfulness 2/ the Social <ul><li>Social interactions with the only goal of sociability are playful </li></ul><ul><li>Facebook can be compared to “third places”, areas dedicated to socializing and conversation </li></ul><ul><li>When a playful environment, such as Facebook, comes into contact with the social dynamics of citizenship, we see a new breed of (productive) play </li></ul><ul><li>Social play or social ritual? </li></ul>
  10. 10. Playfulness as “persuasive” tool <ul><li>Play blurs the boundaries between true and false, real and unreal: </li></ul><ul><li>“ Instead of a betrayal of the facts, what counts in play is a betrayal of the rules” </li></ul><ul><li>No responsibility: the only responsibility is to participate, for “there is no game without all participants” (R. Silverstone) </li></ul>
  11. 11. Conclusions <ul><li>Learn to distinguish “viral strategies” from play as a part of social dynamics </li></ul><ul><li>Separate between “user participation” and “citizen participation” </li></ul><ul><li>Learn the peculiar modes of shifting “frames” in online interactions, where conversation is made more complex by the presence of the interface </li></ul>
  12. 12. Thank you for your attention! contact information: Valentina Rao [email_address] <ul><li>References: </li></ul><ul><li>Huizinga, Johan, Homo Ludens (1938) </li></ul><ul><li>Castronova, Edward, Exodus to the Virtual World (2006) </li></ul><ul><li>Bateson, Gregory, &quot;A Theory of Play and Fantasy&quot;, Steps to an Ecology of Mind (1972) </li></ul><ul><li>Noyes, Jan, Littledale, Richard, Beyond Usability, Computer playfulness, in Green, W. Jordan, P. Pleasure with Products: Beyond Usability (2002) </li></ul><ul><li>Silverstone, Roger, Complicity and Collusion in the Mediation of Everyday Life (2002) </li></ul>

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