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Nicco discusses Wikileaks and Operation Payback on CNN

From CNN by Parker Spitzer

EchoDitto co-founder and partner, Nicco Mele appeared on the December 10th, 2010 edition of CNN’s nightly discussion program Parker Spitzer to offer insight into Operation Payback, the series of assaults on various government and financial sites facilitated by supporters of Wikileaks.

Hosted by Pulitzer-prize winning journalist Kathleen Parker and former Democratic New York Attorney General and Governor Eliot Spitzer, the show featured debate and analysis of current events. In the discussion Mele framed the denial of service action on major financial sites like Visa, Mastercard and Paypal in the context of democratic protest similar to that of the Civil Rights era.

As a recognized leader in the integration of social media and politics, Mele was also asked to answer several OFF-SET questions, a Parker Spitzer blog exclusive, surrounding his views on Wikileaks, Sarah Palin and the new digital elite.

“We are living in a digital age where the nerds have already made a bunch of decisions for our society. And they made those decisions years ago. They decided we aren’t going to have any privacy. And they decided we aren’t going to pay for news. And they decided, ‘information wants to be free’ – thus Wikileaks.

There is a new elite – the digital elite – and they’re making a bunch of decisions about the institutions of our future. We’re way behind in engaging in any kind of discussion about whether or not these are good decisions.”

The original video and blog post are, unfortunately, no longer available online.


Online Privacy in the Digital Age – Nicco interviewed on CNN

From CNN

Nicco Mele appeared on CNN on April 18th, 2010, discussing online privacy and ethics for online advertising.

When you use free internet sites such as Flikr, Facebook, etc. you have to create an account and check the box stating that you accept the company’s Terms of Service. But what does that really mean? Are you reading the full service terms before you start using the site? Probably not. Here, Nicco explains what these companies are often doing with the personal data that you choose to share on these sites.

“These terms of service are crazy. Sometimes they go on for hundreds of pages and its buried in the legalese exactly what they are going to do.”

“There is a quid pro quo going on. I get to use this incredible [online] service for free, they harvest all of my data and use it to sell ads. Ads that are targeted pretty tightly to me. In some ways it can improve the advertising experience…in other ways it is pretty terrifying.”

“It is about time we figured out how to talk to people in clear ways, in honest ways about whats happening when you use these web services.”

“We need to figure out what the code of ethics is for online advertising.”

Read more on online privacy >>


The internet’s disruptive political power

From Washington Post

Online primaries have the potential to be disruptive to the political process, says Nicco Mele in a recent Washington Post article about the moderate group Americans Elect, which is planning to hold an online nomination and primary process to get a moderate third-party candidate on the ballot in the 2012 Presidential election.

Read the full article >>

What to Make of Facebook’s IPO

From The American Prospect

“One way of thinking about this is: everyone is trying to figure out how you make money on the Internet. And here is one of the few examples. So that raises the question why? Why is it working? How is it working? Are there lessons to be learned there for other people?”

Read the full article >>

Monetizing Facebook? Nicco Mele on NPR

From NPR All Things Considered

Nicco Mele commented on NPR’s All Things Considered about Facebook’s IPO, and Jaron Lanier’s idea that “superusers” should benefit from the content they produce.

Read the full article >>

The #Hashtag Presidential Campaigns

From Bloomberg News by Juliana Goldman

Four years ago, when Facebook was one-tenth its size today and before smart phones were the norm, Obama pioneered the use of social media in presidential politics. Today, with the Internet an integral part of people’s lives, Obama’s campaign again has the upper hand, leveraging its ability to communicate with masses on different platforms in ways that weren’t possible in 2008. Yet 2012 may present the first test of whether it makes a difference.

“Obama is operating at a different order of magnitude than Romney just in terms of raw numbers,” said Nicco Mele, a professor at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, who studies the integration of social media and politics. “We’re effectively in the dark ages of this. The eco- system is just so different and so new. It’s really hard to figure out what is actually going to matter.”


That was 34 percent of his total receipts from individuals over the course of the campaign. The numbers for Obama far exceeded Romney’s $39.5 million from small donors, which amount to 18 percent of his total, the center found.

“Social media is very good at talking to people who agree with you and convincing them to take more actions but it’s really not clear if it’s good at changing someone’s mind,” said Mele, who directed Internet operations for Democrat Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential primary campaign. “A lot of the activity online is preaching to the choir in order to significantly boost online fundraising.”

Read the full article >>

Nicco Hosts FireDogLake Book Salon with Steven Johnson

From FireDogLake

Nicco Mele recently hosted his second FireDogLake Book Salon, this time with Steven Johnson, author of Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age.

As part of his introduction, Nicco talked about Johnson’s concept of the peer progressive:

“One of my great frustrations about the digital age is how poor our language is to explain and understand what is happening in our midst. At the outset of Future Perfect, Johnson offers us a new word to describe an emerging political consciousness: peer progressive. It is an apt term, well-coined. Peer progressives believe in the progress of humanity – that we are on a path of continual improvement, and that the exciting technological innovations of the digital age offer new and compelling ways forward. While embracing a progressive worldview, peer progressives believe in the power of peer-to-peer networks, not institutions. They are “wary of centralized control, but they [are] not free-market libertarians…they [are] equally suspicious of big government and big corporations.” (page xxxvi)”

Read the full transcript >>

Technology in African Political Campaigns

From Deutsche Welle by Sarah Bomkapre Kamara

Nicco Mele was interviewed for a story on Deutsche Welle (Germany’s international news broadcaster) on the rising influence of digital communications in African political campaigns. Read the article in English.

The Revolution Will Not Be Webcast

From National Journal by Adam Mazmanian

Are digital tools really changing the way that politics and political campaigns work? Maybe not. In this article in the National Journal Nicco Mele commented on the rise of and effectiveness of digital tools in persuading voters.

Even though voters are moving to new patterns of media consumption, campaigns still spend the overwhelming majority of ad money on TV (about 80 percent for Obama and 90 percent for Romney). That’s because television can reach so many people for so few dollars, and it remains a proven plat- form for establishing campaign narratives. “Obama spent a ton of money on TV in May through August to define Romney as one of the big bankers that fire people,” Mele says. “Could they have done that without TV? I’m highly suspicious.”

Download the print article >>

How Howard Deans ‘Whiz Kids’ Gave Birth to Online Campaigning

From Politico by Steve Friess

Typical of the group’s innovation was the experience of Nicco Mele, who, at 35, is now an adjunct professor at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. In early 2003, he was bored in a job managing a site for an AIDS advocacy group in New York when he heard about a nearby Dean appearance. Mele couldn’t get in — the bar was at capacity — and he had trouble finding the campaign website when he later searched on Google. As a silent donation, he bought a few Google ads so that when people searched for “Howard Dean” or other similar terms, they’d at least see a link to the site.

A month later, Mele received a huge bill from Google because thousands had clicked on the ad. He called the campaign and reached a harried director of online organizing, Zephyr Teachout.

“She said, ‘Oh, I wondered who was doing that’ and I said, ‘Well, I can’t afford it anymore, but you could probably raise a lot of money this way,’” Mele recalled. “She said, ‘Nobody here knows how to do that. Come do it.’ And she hung up.”

He became the Dean campaign’s webmaster and among the first practitioners in politics of the dark art of SEO — search engine optimization. After the campaign cratered, he co-founded the digital firm EchoDitto, a multimillion-dollar business that now advises the likes of the Clinton Global Initiative and AARP, and ran the online operation for Obama’s 2004 Illinois Senate bid.

Mele’s forthcoming book, “The End of Big,” argues that the major political parties will soon be crushed by the weight of bottom-up Web activism. “I owe my career absolutely to the Dean campaign,” Mele said. “I was the right person, in the right place, at the right time, with the right skills, and I was very lucky.”

Read the whole article >>

The Challenge of Analytics

From Campaigns & Elections by Dave Nyczepir

The big takeaway from the 2012 election was that metrics and data analysis is the next big step in online campaigning. Nicco weighed in on analytics and the challenge of finding meaningful metrics for measuring the effectiveness of digital campaigns, in this article from Campaigns & Elections magazine.


Nicco Mele on how technology radically changes everything

From The Boston Globe Magazine by Nicco Mele

Big things that are ending include big newspapers, big universities, big political parties, big armies, big entertainment companies, big government, and big manufacturing. It’s the DECLINE OF POWER of these big things.

Our technology [mobile phones, the Internet, social media] dramatically EMPOWERS INDIVIDUALS and allows them to OPT OUT OF A LOT OF OUR INSTITUTIONS, from creative [ones] like record labels and publishing companies all the way to the way our government works. These days you can have a pretty impressive experience with online education yourself with lectures from elite universities that are available for free.

The end of big is a good thing.

Find out why in the full interview >>

How social media brought big power to the smallest players

From Fortune by Nin-Hai Tseng

FORTUNE — Big is powerful, or so it’s generally assumed. But in today’s social media-centric world, small is big again, as everything from pint-sized companies to tiny political parties are quickly becoming just as powerful.

In The End of Big: How the Internet makes David the new Goliath, social media guru Nicco Mele offers a thought-provoking look at the ways new technologies, which comprise what he calls “radical connectivity,” are shrinking, and therefore altering, who controls all aspects of everyday life — from who governs us to who sells us goods and services to who delivers our news and educates our children.

Read the full article >>

The End of Big

From On Point by Tom Ashbrook

Read the full transcript at >>

Why Hillary Clinton might not win in 2016

From NBC News' The Daily Rundown by Chuck Todd

Watch the full video on >>

Why You Can Build a Bomb from Recipes on the Net

From PRI's The World by Aaron Schachter

Read the full transcript on PRI’s The World >>

Jack Covert Selects “The End of Big”

From 800 CEO Read by Jack Covert

Jack Covert, editor of the website 800 CEO Read, which reviews books on a variety of business topics, selected to review Nicco Mele’s “The End of Big.”

” ‘The End of Big’ continues to give case after case of how the internet has opened the door for small enterprises to undermine once-invincible institutions. American democracy, centralized government, big entertainment, war, education, and corporations all come under Mele’s critical view. While his scope is praiseworthy, Mele’s ambivalence toward each “End of Big” is what makes the book so engrossing.”

Read the full article >>

Reset Your Expectations – It’s the End of Big

From Forbes by Dorie Clark

Forbes contributor, Dorie Clark, interviews Nicco Mele on what he calls “The End of Big.” Clark writes:

“Empowering the individual” may sound good, but it’s not all positive, says Mele, the author of the newly-released The End of Big: How the Internet Makes David the New Goliath. “In the press, it took decades to develop the norms and ethics of reporting – having more than one source, for instance. Professional standards develop over time, and we’re at the very beginning of this in social media. We’re at a very fragile moment when the standards and institutions of the past are simply not in touch with the reality of the present.”

Read the full article >>

ABC Radio National – The End of Big

From ABC Radio National

Our ability to stay connected to the internet and each other, constantly, instantly and globally, is going to dramatically change our world, our politics, our business and culture. Nicco Mele from Harvard University argues that as the internet provides a radical redistribution of power to the individual, we will see the destruction of existing big institutions. Empowering for some, but dangers also lurk.

Listen to the Interview Here >>

Crowd Funding Changing Hollywood Films

From Bloomberg TV

Nicco Mele, Professor at Harvard Kennedy School, discusses alternative ways entertainment is being produced. He speaks on Bloomberg Television’s “Market Makers.”

Watch the full video on BloombergTV >>

‘The End of Big’: Nicco Mele on the Rise of Small Businesses

From HubSpot by Dan Lyons

Dan Lyons reviews “The End of Big” on HubSpot, a company that sells marketing software and also runs its own blog. Lyons points out some key takeaways for inbound marketers.

The shift presents many opportunities and risks to society. In media, for example, we’re losing important institutions that in the past served as a check on government and business. In entertainment, it’s great that anyone can make videos and distribute them on YouTube, but without huge resources from a major studio, can anyone really make a fantastic full-length film?

Read the full review >>

Nicco Mele: The Unwritten Future of Personal Democracy

From Personal Democracy

Nicco speaks at the Personal Democracy Forum 2013, held from June 6-7 at New York University and organized around the central theme “Think Bigger.”

Watch full video on YouTube >>

National Security Goes From ‘Big’ to ‘Even Bigger’

From Politicus USA by Crissie Brown

Contributor Crissie Brown discusses Nicco Mele’s thesis on how 9/11 changed our perception of national security in “End of Big.”

In The End of Big, Mele writes that the anti-establishment ethos that spawned and is embedded in radical connectivity can be summarized in a paraphrase from the 1960s: “Burn the System Down … But Let Me Make Money.” And he emphasizes that the emerging nerdocracy values the last part just as much as the first. In many sectors we’ve replaced Big with Even Bigger: high tech behemoths whose market dominance and global influence exceed the institutions they are displacing. All of this, Mele writes repeatedly, has been happening with little thought for how the end of Big (and the rise of Even Bigger) will impact privilege, privacy, freedom of expression, and challenges whose inherent scope requires Big solutions.

Read the full article >>

Check out for a full discussion of “End of Big” with Crissie Brown next week!


Tech Tales From New York

From by Peter Himler

Forbes contributor, Peter Himler, recounts meeting numerous individuals at recent technology meetups in New York, including Nicco Mele at the Personal Democracy Forum. Himler writes,

At PDF, founded by Mr. Rasiej and Micah Sifrey, I ran into a number of old friends and acquaintances including Nicco Mele whose new book The End of Big is getting buoyant reviews — Yes, Nicco, I bought a copy

Read the full article >>

Can Tech Make Government Better?

From by Karly Schledwitz

Contributor Karly Schledwitz explores the idea that technology has the potential to form a more trustworthy government and produce smarter political campaigns. She cites Nicco Mele, political tech guru and author of “The End of Big,” and his dissatisfaction with the current state of our existing institutions.

“We have some very big problems—everything from the vanishing middle class, the global youth unemployment epidemic, climate change. And our existing institutions are not proving up to the task,” he said. “[Our technological] power is useless if we can’t figure out how to make it work better.” – Mele

Read the full article >>

NBN: Review of “The End of Big”

From New Books Network by Heath Brown

New Books Network names Nicco Mele’s The End of Big as a “New Book in Political Science” as well as a “New Book in Digital Culture.” Contributor Heath Brown interviews Mele about his book and where his ideas originated.

[Mele] served as a campaign staffer for the Howard Dean for President Campaign in 2003. He and his colleagues implemented many of the web-based campaign innovations that resulted in President Obama winning the 2008 presidential election and define the modern American political campaign. Mele links that experience with radical social changes brought about by the internet. His title thesis, The End of Big, suggest that big institutions in nearly every sector of our lives (business, government, news) have been eroded and, in some cases, supplanted by smallness.

Listen to the Interview>>

Read the full article>>

Go Local, Big is History: An Interview with Nicco

From Vianovo by Matthew Dowd

Matthew Dowd, partner at boutique management consulting firm, Vianovo LP, sat down with Nicco Mele to discuss The End of Big, and how “the end of big” really affects politics, media, healthcare, universities, and business. Here’s a preview of their discussion:

What is your overall premise in “The End of Big”?  Can you convey what you mean by that?

The force and direction of all technology is towards empowering individuals.  That means pushing power out of institutions to individuals and that has dramatic ramifications.  Every chapter in the book looks at an institution where that’s happening: big news, big political parties, big entertainment, big universities, big armies, big manufacturing, big business.  It’s not just that the technology is pushing power to individuals; it’s also that a lot of these institutions have not done a very good job.  These institutions have failed, at the same time these technologies have come along, in giving people alternatives, so people are using these technologies to build alternatives.

Real the full interview >>

The Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show: The End of Big

From The Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show by Rob Kall

Nicco Mele discusses his background and his new book, The End of Big on The Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show. You can find the podcast on iTunes or listen to The Rob Kall Bottom Up Radio Show on WNJC 1360 AM.

Listen to the show here >>

HKS Library Virtual Book Tour “End of Big”

From Harvard Kennedy School Library

The Harvard Kennedy School features Nicco Mele’s new book The End of Big in a virtual book tour. Mele is an adjunct lecturer in public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School. The tour includes a video-introduction to The End of Big with Mele along with the publisher’s description of the book, and quotes reactions to the book.

 Check out the virtual book tour >>

NIghtside – Nicco Mele In Studio

From CBS Boston by Dan Rea

Nicco Mele, author of The End of Big: How The Internet Makes David The New Goliath, joins Dan Rea of WBZ Radio on NightSide. Mele talks with Rea about why he believes the internet and other modern technology has taken the power away from big corporations and government and given it to the little guy.

Listen to the show >>

American Thinker: Bottom-Up Government

From American Thinker by Thomas Burke

Thomas Burke reflects on Nicco Mele’s book The End of Big: How the Internet Makes David the New Goliath and Ron Fournier’s piece on Mele’s book from the National Journal.

The system as designed would work fine, were it not for the massive, unwarranted modifications. It’s like a car adapter with a washing machine plugged in.

Modern American government has gone terribly wrong. The federal government, and many states, are outdated and anachronistic because they are indeed too big, and are ignoring the bottom-up, adaptable nature of the Constitution. The Founders knew the same thing Tim Berners-Lee and the other pioneers of the Internet knew: small, distributed nodes are a failsafe against all sorts of corruption. What must we do?

Read the full article >>

Tech4Dem Talk: Nicco Mele, The End of Big

by National Democratic Institute

In Nicco’s first public book talk in D.C., he discusses recently published work, The End of Big: How the Internet Makes David the New Goliath. 

In it, he explores the consequences of living in a socially-connected society, drawing upon his years of experience as an innovator in politics and technology.  He argues that “Radical connectivity—our breathtaking ability to send vast amounts of data instantly, constantly, and globally —is in the process of re-shaping our biggest institutions.”

Note: Skip to 15:00, where the talk begins!


Vermont Public Radio: Politics, Media And The Military In The Age Of Technology

From Vermont Public Radio by Bob Kinzel and Ric Cengeri

Nicco Mele joins Bob Kinzel and Ric Cengeri on Vermont Edition to discuss his role as web master in the Howard Dean 2004 presidential campaign and his new book, The End of Big: How the Internet Makes David the New Goliath

He discusses how the growth of technology over the past decade is having an enormous impact on the world of politics, the gathering and distribution of news, the entertainment industry and the role of the military.

Also on the program, Congressman Peter Welch discusses the issues of data collection and surveillance activities by the National Security Agency.

Listen here >>

Matt Lewis and the News: The End of Big

From The Daily Caller by Matt Lewis

Nicco Mele joins Matt Lewis on The Daily Caller to discuss his new book The End of Big: How The Internet Made David the new Goliath. Mele discusses his work on the Dean Campaign and in journalism with Lewis:

As a technophile who served as webmaster of Howard Dean’s pioneering online campaign in 2004, you might expect Mele to be a tech utopian who would welcome any new technology with open arms. Instead, Mele is sounding the alarm about the destruction of old institutions. Granted, he believes that some old institutions deserve to die (“creative destruction”), but he also warns that “we can’t fetishize technology and say ‘to hell with our institutions’ without suffering terrible consequences.”  This, of course, is a conservative instinct. So what brought about this change? “I started to have children,” Mele explained to me during a recent conversation, “and watching what’s happening starts to raise some serious questions.”

Mele’s book isn’t just about political institutions. But considering the GOP is clearly in the midst of what is (at best) soul searching and reordering — or (at worst) a chaotic Whig-like implosion — Mele’s thoughts on the benefits of yesterday’s strong political parties (where bosses sorted things out in smoke-filled rooms) might ring especially true today:

“Although inarguably elitist, the parties (and the old-boy system that comprised them) made sure candidates for major office deserved to be leaders — that they possessed some essential mettle or fitness for office. Bad apples aside, most of the party rank and file evinced a strong sense of morality and social responsibility born of a class-based mentality — quite a shift from what we see today.”

Listen to the show here >>

USA Today Column: Bezos a false Messiah for old media

From USA Today by Nicco Mele

In his USA Today Op-Ed Column, Nicco explores the impacts of the recent sale of the Washington Post to Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos. What does this mean for the future of journalism? And how must newspapers adjust to the growing threat of digital media?

Read the full article here >>






Billboard Magazine Op-Ed: Why Brands, Bands and Everyone Else Need to Adapt to ‘Intimate’ Social Media

From Billboard Magazine

Billboard Magazine Logo

See the full article here: Billboard Magazine

Big brands are in danger of missing the social media train.  Technology is shifting the way consumers interact — with one another, with advertising, and with the brands they use. As individuals use social media to engage much more personally with others and with the causes they care most about, big brands must also make moves into uncharted territory and adapt their strategies to meet new and growing demand for personal, intimate and intentional connections.


Popular Highlights

“Power is not about knowing how to use Twitter. It’s about grasping the thinking underneath the actual technology – the values, mindsets, worldviews, and arguments embedded in all those blinking gadgets and cool websites.”

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