Text messaging has mobilized voters in elections around the world. Will the once teen-centric technology change American politics too?
Lollapalooza, the alternative music festival, conjures up all sorts of associations. Oil policy is probably not among them. But one energy nonprofit is looking to use this year’s festival to lobby its cause—and is hoping to connect with music lovers using a very Gen-X technology: the text message.
As bands like the Red Hot Chili Peppers perform on stage this month, representatives from the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund will peddle their policy, encouraging people in the crowd to use their cell phones to send the text message “MABO”—for Move America Beyond Oil—to a special number, or short code. The phone numbers of text-messagers will be compiled with specialized software, and NRDC Action Fund will follow up with those enthusiastic texters to enlist support for its MABO petition, which lobbies for specific policies aimed at reducing American oil dependence.
While NRDC Action Fund is ahead of the tech game here in the United States, text messaging, or SMS (for Short Message Service), in politics is hardly new elsewhere in the world.