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#BTVMayor: How Social Media is Redefining Politics

While traditional media tried to get a handle on Twitter and Facebook's role in the Arab Spring, social media were also re-shaping our domestic politics. Most journalists now use Twitter to cover elections. Aspiring and elected politicians are using Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to promote their campaigns and interact with their constituents. And more than ever, citizens are are using new tools and resources (such as Burlington's own Front Porch Forum) to share perspectives and hold elected leaders accountable.

Burlington's recent mayoral campaign, called "Vermont's First Social Media Campaign" by local Rich Nadworny, reflects the influence of these tools--not only in elections, but also in how citizens are talking about politics with each other.

Join NetSquared for a spirited evening of discussion about the intersection of social media with politics in Burlington and beyond.


Nicco Mele

Nicco Mele is a leading expert in the integration of social media and Web 2.0 with politics, business and communications.

As the webmaster for Governor Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential race, Nicco and the campaign team pioneered the use of technology and social media that revolutionized political fundraising and American politics. Later that year, Nicco founded EchoDitto, a leading internet strategy consulting company. Through EchoDitto, Nicco continues to consult with Fortune 500 companies and nonprofit groups.

Now an adjunct faculty at Harvard’s Kennedy School, Nicco teaches graduate level classes on the internet and politics. In 2009, Nicco was named the Spring 2009 Visiting Edward R. Murrow Distinguished Lecturer at the Harvard Shorenstein Center for the study of Press, Politics and Public Policy.

Nicco also co-founded, which used the internet to change the advertising concept by soliciting creative online in an open and collaborative process. He also launched, an online resource for proxy voting and shareholder resolutions.

Named in 2003 by Esquire Magazine as one of America ‘s “best and brightest,” Nicco was born in West Africa to foreign service parents. He spent his early years overseas in Asia and Africa before graduating from high school in Malaysia and from the College of William and Mary in Virginia. Nicco’s wife, Morra Aarons, is also a well-known internet entrepreneur and blogger. They have two sons: Asa "Ace" Mele and Tom Mele.

Nicco serves on the board of several start-ups, including Common Place, BrighterPlanet,TurboVote, and Isis Parenting. He also sits on the board of two non-profits, Democracy21 and the News Literacy Project (Technology Advisory Committee), and he was recently named to the Advisory Board of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He is the co-founder of the Massachusetts Poetry Festival.

Nicco Mele is the author of the forthcoming book "The End of Big: The Consequences of Radical Connectivity" to be published by St. Martin's Press in 2013.

Councilor Ed Adrian, Burlington City Council

Ed Adrian is a 1992 graduate of the University of Vermont and a 1996 graduate of Vermont Law School. Although Ed traces the roots of his political career to an unsuccessful run for his High School Board of Education in 1988, his first successful venture into elected public office was in 2004 with a successful run for Justice of the Peace in Burlington. Now smitten, Ed ran for the Burlington City Council in 2005, taking on a 19 year incumbent. He lost that race in a close vote. In 2007, Ed was asked to run again for City Council, to fill the unexpired term of City Councilor and then State Party Democratic Chair, Ian Carleton. This time he had two opponents and won with a 47% plurality. Ed has been re-elected three times in 2008, 2010 and 2012.

Ed gained “notoriety” as the “twittering councilor” using social media to bring active, transparent and meaningful communication to the people. For his efforts he was selected to receive the 2011 Burlington Social Media Day “Politician” Award for excellent use of social networks to share, engage and participate. Ed recently sponsored a resolution at the City Council recognizing the continued importance that social media plays in political communication and transparency. Ed is currently contemplating a run for Vermont State Senate.

Ed lives in Burlington with his wife of eleven years Jen, a graphic designer; his daughter Elsa, age 9, an aspiring artist; his son Henry age 6, who is already polishing his stump speeches; and 12 year old Averill, the family’s Chocolate Lab.

Tyler Machado

Tyler Machado is the deputy web editor at Seven Days, Vermont's largest independent newsweekly. He manages Seven Days' online content and social media channels and writes about issues in digital media and technology. He is a member of the Online News Association and a graduate of Saint Michael's College in Colchester.

Sean Hurley

Sean Hurley is co-founder and Managing Partner at hearforward. He has over 6 years of experience performing statistical analysis on consumer behavior and working with data from dozens of organizations from small franchise restaurants to the biggest international brands and candidates for federal, state and local office. hearforward's political clients include Peter Shumlin, Representative Jim McGovern (D-MA), Miro Weinberger and the current effort to repeal the Cloud Tax in Vermont. Sean studied green consumer behavior at Clark University and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Master’s degree in Environmental Science.

hearforward drove online strategy for the Miro for Mayor campaign during the general election, developed the campaign's custom Facebook Applications, managed Facebook Advertising and facilitated the growth of the @miroformayor Twitter handle. hearforward's efforts resulted in over $5,000 in direct contributions and an additional $5,000 in cost reductions. On election day the campaign had a dominant presence on Twitter and a Facebook page with 3 times the number of fans than the closest rival and a viral reach touching every voting-age user in Burlington.

Michael Wood-Lewis Michael Wood-Lewis and his wife Valerie founded Front Porch Forum in their Burlington "Five Sisters" neighborhood in 2006. FPF hosts regional networks of online neighborhood forums that cover 40 percent of Vermont and 36,000 households subscribe. In Burlington, 10,000 are members, out of the 16,000 households in the city. The resulting news sharing and community building helped land a prestigious Knight News Challenge award. Previously, Michael led an innovative trade association of New England utilities, and before that developed environmental technologies in Washington, DC. Michael serves many roles locally with youth sports, town committees, charities and the UU church. He earned an M.S. in engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as well as an MBA.

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  • Nate O.

    With a significant breadth of speakers, this meetup did an amazing job of covering the bases. I came away feeling that I had gained much insight into the dynamics of social media and the people who want to be public servants. The one thing I noticed was that they all were white guys. Granted, in #VT, a new media developer or worker is more likely to be a white guy, but I was struck by the cultural homogeneity of the panel. I wouldn't dream of asking Burlington NetSquared Meetup Group to start instilling quotas; rather, I'd just ask that we continue to be mindful of the fact that we have less cultural bandwidth in this region and that, as long as a panel is fairly culturally homogenous, we're very likely missing important perspectives that might add significant value to our understanding of the phenomena being discussed.

    May 9, 2012

  • Michelle H.

    Great diversity and relevancy in panel.

    May 8, 2012

29 went

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