One of my childhood memories is the legend behind the creation of chess. The creator presented his finished game to the king and the king was so pleased that he told the creator to name any price for his work. In response, the creator stated that he wanted one grain of rice on the first square of the chessboard, then have it subsequently doubled for each square thereafter. The king laughed and said, “Is that all?”
The king didn’t realize the power of exponents. Considering the first square had one grain of rice, the remaining squares had 2 to the 63rd power of rice. My calculator tells me this is 9.22e18, which is a 9 followed by 18 digits, or over 9 quintillion (a billion billion) grains of rice. Most likely the king could not pay off.
Marketers believe “word of mouth” is the most powerful form of advertising. Indeed, more customers have come to my business XMission based on recommendations of friends and family than any other method. Political campaigns want to use this but it is not anything you can purchase, so they mainly rely on traditional methods of advertising through broadcast and print media.
Traditional media is still part of this campaign’s strategy, but it hinges on significant funds being raised. When I encounter a willing volunteer, instead of shaking them down, I tell them to sign up for the mailing list and spread the word. The numbers are pretty simple in this race. In 2004, just over 940,000 voters participated. This was a presidential and a gubernatorial year in Utah where turnout is high. In the “mid-term”, 2002, about 570,000 voters cast their vote. So lets say 700,000 show up in 2006. This means a winner would need a maximum of 350,001 votes. A stark figure until you think of the chess board.
Tell two people a day about this campaign, and have them do the same. In 19 days, 524,288 people will have heard about it. Of course we realize that people are busy, so expecting this to happen is not realistic. However, make up the gaps by increasing the number of people you tell, and the potential is vast.
Some prominent technology websites have refused to greenlight articles about this campaign. National technologists have not responded to my emails. Cracking national media from the top is futile. The word needs to rise from the bottom. Politicians talk about the “grass roots” ad nauseam, but this is what the Internet does best. In order for this campaign to succeed, we not only need votes from inside Utah, we need funds from across the country. Send an email to your friends. Put a button on your web page. Spread the word.