Last Saturday, Republican vice presidential nominee and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin held a rally in Los Angeles in the Home Depot Center, and the California Democratic Party rented a giant electronic billboard during the event, and solicited questions from people, via texting, to display during the presentation (exhorting submitters to be family-friendly).
You can see the results here.
With today's flash mobs and almost-instantaneous ability to transmit information, at what point are there going to be limits put on the sorts of contacts that people can make with one another? At what point does it become harassment? We've already seen the FBI become involved when someone used social engineering to hack into Governor Palin's Yahoo email account; how many other tricks might involve the FBI? When will someone go too far?
Similarly, in 2004, MoveOn solicited tv ads from people to run on YouTube, and a furor arose when one of the ads compared President George W. Bush to Adolf Hitler, noted Nate Wilcox, author of Netroots Rising: How a Citizen Army of Bloggers and Online Activists Is Changing American Politics.
It isn't clear whether the billboard was visible to Governor Palin while she spoke, but it got me thinking of the sorts of (family friendly!) things that could have been displayed via such a system that could really mess up a speaker.
1. YOU ARE GETTING SLEEPY. VERY, VERY SLEEPY.
2. HOW LONG HAS IT BEEN SINCE YOU WENT TO THE BATHROOM?
3. HAVE YOU NOTICED HOW MUCH YOUR BUTT ITCHES?
4. DON'T THINK ABOUT EATING SOUR PICKLES. OR SUCKING ON LEMONS.
5. IF YOU RUB YOUR RIGHT EYEBROW, IT MEANS YOU SECRETLY SUPPORT YOUR OPPONENT.