Friday, September 7, 2012

Full time deputies, part time entertainers

Unexpected celebrities emerged this DNC week: The dancing sheriffs from Clayton County, Ga., who grooved to the sound of their own whistle, transforming a boring job into an entertaining spectacle.

Everybody loved it.

We at the Observer had a 40-picture slide show:

A search of "dancing traffic cop DNC" on comes up with a whole menu of videos. You can choose which clip is your favorite, but here's one that got almost 23,000 views.

The cops made plenty of print headlines. Here's an assortment of news outlets that picked the story up.

Charlotte Observer: Traffic jammin' officers a hit uptown "Dancing traffic cops bust a move at DNC in Charlotte"  "Crazy cops turn DNC traffic control into performance art" "Dancing cops at the DNC" "Traffic cop has a little fun at DNC" "Cops do DNC dance" 

And of course, Twitter was all over the dancing cops:

Have a laugh: Thursday's most humorous tweets

Check out some of the funniest Tweets sent throughout the day Thursday, the last day of the convention.

That's a wrap!

The bags are packed and folks are headed to the airport, many with fond Twitter goodbyes.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Charlotte as the host

Charlotte is a proud city this morning. At least according to their Tweets.

Obama's speech: The grand finale

It all led up to this. But with rain, a venue change, and the bar set high - how did the President do?

Twitter had mixed reviews.

Best of Twitter: Thursday

Check out the best of Twitter from throughout the last convention day.

Run DNC: Obama campaign poster you must see

A poster produced by the Obama-Biden campaign is a play on rap group Run DMC. It's Run DNC. Take a look.

Obama's leadership in Biden's words

Biden isn't known for his oratory ability. But he got through most of his speech without much criticism.

The delegates were "fired up, and ready for Joe." And for many, Biden did exactly what he was supposed to do - set the stage for President Obama.

 Still, the comments on his speech were diverse. Here's what Twitter had to say.

DNC video roundup: The week's best clips

Can I get a replay?

Tweets are great for witty comments and immediate reactions. But videos can really add context to the moment. And you can play them over and over again -- that is, if you want to.

For those of you who don't want to put this week and the DNC behind you, here's a long (but not nearly exhaustive) list of videos from the past week in Charlotte.

To get you started, here's a good a summary of day one.

 To keep you entertained, here's a video of the now famous dancing cop.

 In case you're not tired of "Call Me Maybe," here's a parody for the DNC from the Hilton Charlotte Center City hotel.

In case you haven't seen the protester to police ratio, this video sums it up pretty well.

 Honestly, I just like this one....and really any video of spontaneous dance parties.

 From a Tampa journalist, how the DNC compares to the RNC.

 From a delegate, how she views Charlotte.

 And finally, from CarolinaFest, one of the many women who sported "Obama Mama" pins.

Emotional Pledge of Allegiance

Before former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-A.Z.) even began the Pledge of Allegiance, the entire Time Warner Cable Arena was moved. So was Twitter.

For many, the moment provoked tears. For others, it created a sense of unity between parties. And for a few, it reignited a discussion about gun control.

How did the moment affect you?

Foo Fighters at the DNC: Raw video

The Foo Fighters perform at DNC on Thursday night. Raw video from @coreyinscoe:

Uptown at DNC: A mix of wonder, frustration

The Twitter reaction to the scene in Uptown for Thursday's final day of the DNC, including Barack Obama's acceptance speech. 

With smart phones in hand, delegates tweet away

DNC video: Stronger Together: Don't Ask, Don't Tell

The DNC's Don't Ask, Don't Tell video, shown to delegates in the arena Thursday:


James Taylor: You've got 15,500 friends at DNC, so it's OK to make an empty chair joke

James Taylor performed at the Democratic National Convention on Thursday, to a supportive audience at Time Warner Cable Arena and on Twitter.

Well, mostly supportive, anyway. Everybody has their haters.

An instant review from the Twittersphere:

Obama, the MTV Video Music Awards, and rain

The VMAs or Obama? The VMAs or Obama?

According to Twitter, it's a tough call. But regardless of whether viewers tune into MTV's Video Music Awards or the President's acceptance speech, there is one thing people won't stop talking about - the rain.

Charlotte's hourly forecast may never get so many hits. As people watch and comment on the weather, there surely will be a constant stream of "hah, I told you so's" and "guess that was the right decision after all."

The Tweets on what to watch and whether it will rain have already begun....

Meet Occupy Eye, who live streams protests

Nathan Grant, 23, better known as Occupy Eye on Twitter and Ustream, has been live streaming Occupy protests since joined the original Occupy Wall Street protest in New York last October.

The New Jersey native has been streaming the protests during the Democratic National Convention this week in Charlotte and talks about why he streams the protests.

The great state of Twitter casts its roll call votes

"My name is ________ and it is my pleasure to represent the great state of _________. [Insert description of beautiful landscapes and a reference to college sports or politician's birthplace.]"

The roll call is fairly predictable -- especially with an incumbent nominee -- but Twitter users never fail to converse.

Check out what the Tweeps had to say about the late night ceremony.

Tom Brokaw's hospital trip: A Twitter experience

When you're famous, it's hard to get any privacy. When you're somebody famous in Charlotte, which runs a bit low on the famous, you can pretty much guarantee no privacy. That's what Tom Brokaw discovered this morning, when he had to be rushed to the hospital.

Wake up - it's the last day!

Due to the venue change for Obama's speech this evening, this morning looks a lot like day 1 and day 2. Without throngs of people coming in from across the state, region and country, Charlotte will surely be a little more quiet than expected.
Keep an eye on Twitter today. Even without the thousands of people flocking to Charlotte with community credentials, it's bound to be a busy and exciting final day of the DNC.

Daily Show pokes fun at Charlotte, Democrats

The Daily Show is taping its show in Charlotte during the DNC. Needless to say, Jon Stewart and his correspondents have been having some fun with the Queen City.

 Here are the episodes from the last couple of nights. What do you think of the jokes about Charlotte?

There are a lot of people having some fun with the convention. Here is some of the best humor from Twitter from Wednesday.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Bill Clinton for president?

It may not have been his intention, but some people found Clinton's speech so good they'd prefer he be president.

Bill Clinton greeted by President Barack Obama after speech.

Clinton draws the crowds

After being shut out per order of the fire marshal, hundreds of people stream into the Time Warner Cable Arena Wednesday night when officials agree to let in another 1,000 people. Check out the video here:

Is social media big this convention? @yes

Take a look back at Wednesday's Google Hangout about social media and the Democratic National Convention. The conversation features members of WCNC's social media team and Desiree Kane with The PPL.

Gabby Douglas kicks off Day 2

Gymnastics Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas was in Charlotte Wednesday afternoon to lead the Pledge of Allegiance, opening the second day of the Democratic National Convention. Here's what Twitter had to say.

Obama Girl is back ... and she's still got a crush

I know what you've been thinking all election season: "Hey, where's Obama Girl?"

Wonder no more, because she's back. And, yes, she still has a crush on President Barack Obama.

Leah Kauffman, better known as Obama Girl, posted a new YouTube video Monday called "Still Got a Crush on Obama," where she gushes about his stance on marriage equality and immigration policy, among other things, while rocking a "Listen to Barack" tank top.

If you remember her looking different four years ago, its because Kauffman used an actor last time, according to ABC News. Now it's all Kauffman.

What do you think? Do you have a crush on Obama Girl?

In a traffic jam? Thank your prez

President Barack Obama arrived in Charlotte Wednesday afternoon and Twitter was, well, atwitter at the prospect of laying eyes on him.

That excitement gave way to irritation, though, when traffic came to a halt.

Facebook VP talks about social media and political campaigns

Joe Lockhart, right, speaking at the Politico Playbook Breakfast Wednesday. Photo by Jen Rothacker
Joe Lockhart, vice president of corporate communications at Facebook, stopped by the Politico/Charlotte Observer Playbook Breakfast at Packard Place Wednesday morning.

Lockhart, former press secretary for President Bill Clinton, spoke about the influence social media has on political campaigns.

When asked to describe what he expects a political convention to look like in 2024, Lockhart said he expected it to be shorter and more connected.

"I'd expect it will be much more interactive, much more virtual," he said.

Lockhart also said he believed social media is changing the way political campaigns are crafting messages. He told a story about walking into President Barack Obama's campaign headquarters and seeing dozens of workers. He assumed they were fundraisers or field workers. He was wrong. Eighty percent were social media and digital content creators, he said.

Lockhart believes the focus on creating individualized and interactive content on platforms like Facebook and Twitter will slowly push out standard campaign ads.

"Rather than broadcast a focus-grouped 30-second ad that you spent most of your money on ... it's very personal," he said.

Lockhart said social media first started affecting national politics with the Howard Dean campaign in 2004, where Dean was able to collect small donations from around the country to fund his campaign.

The Obama campaign took advantage of social media in the 2008 election. Lockhart compared it to when direct mail campaigning took off in the 1980s.

"I think 2008 was really when social took hold," he said.

Social media gives people a place to have conversations and react to political campaigns, he said, like they did on Facebook after First Lady Michelle Obama's speech Tuesday night.

"I don't know what they're talking about, but they're talking about it," he said.

-Corey Inscoe

Meet Mississippi's Renick Taylor, the Obama fairy

Mississippi delegate Renick Taylor calls himself the Obama fairy. See why he's celebrating:

Videos: Opinions about DNC venue change vary

Two delegates to the convention, one happy about Wednesday's announcement that Thursday's speech by President Obama will move from Bank of America Stadium to Time Warner Cable Arena because of weather concerns, and one not happy: Unhappy: A Georgia delegate Happy: A California delegate Which side are you on?

Jon Stewart mocks Billy Graham Parkway

If you're tired of politics but still want to stay in the loop, we suggest tuning into political humor.

"The Daily Show" with Jon Stewart began its official DNC coverage last night with its show "DNC 2012: Hope and Change 2." Although Stewart is often labeled as a left-wing comedian, he took some clever (and pretty accurate) jabs at both the Democratic party and the city of Charlotte (including our use of Uptown, the history of Stonewall Street and a jab at Billy Graham Parkway).

Stewart will film two more shows for the DNC - one tonight and another Thursday, both airing at 11:00 p.m. ET/PT. 

If you don't have the time (or the bed time) to tune into "The Daily Show," just look to our morning humor roundup to see what on Twitter is making us chuckle.

Here's a dose from late night last night and early this morning.


Twitter reactions to Obama speech venue change

Around 10 a.m. Wednesday, news came that President Obama's acceptance speech would move from Bank of America Stadium, which holds about 65,000 people for the speech, to Time Warner Cable Arena, which holds about 15,000 people for the DNC.

The Twitter world immediately reacted.

Sleep deprived for day 2

Here's another morning roundup of the second official day of the DNC. On the schedule this morning: more caucus and council meetings, delegate breakfasts and another Politico Playbook Breakfast featuring Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel.

Miss last night's speeches? YouTube can help

YouTube's politics channel is streaming and saving the speeches from the Democratic National Convention. Here are Tuesday night's speeches by San Antonio mayor Julian Castro and First Lady Michelle Obama.

The Google-owned streaming website also has speeches from last week's Republican National Convention and other political videos at

#DNC2012 reaches 3 million tweets in first night

More than 3 million tweets have already used the hashtag #DNC2012, Twitter announced Tuesday night.

With the Democratic National Convention gearing to start Day 2, the hashtag is primed to surpass the 4 million total #GOP2012 tweets from last week's Republican National Convention.

Twitter also announced that First Lady Michelle Obama's speech drew 28,003 tweets per minute at its peak, toward the end of her remarks. That's nearly double Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney's peak of 14,289 tweets per minute during his acceptance speech in Tampa, Fla., Thursday. The State of the Union (#SOTU) peaked at14,131 tweets per minutes when adjusted for Twitter user growth, the company said.

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, the DNC's keynote speaker Tuesday, peaked at 11,503 tweets per minutes. Twitter says that's more than every #GOP2012 speaker not named Mitt Romney.

Equal pay advocate Lilly Ledbetter had the highest peak of any speaker at either convention not in the 10 p.m. hour, when the major networks carry the speeches.

For more Twitter political analytics, visit Twitter's blog or follow @Gov.

We'll continue to comb through the thousand of #DNC2012 tweets, so follow us at @dnc2012clt.

Meet our undecided voters panel

This week The Charlotte Observer has enlisted five undecided voters in the Charlotte area as citizen correspondents. We want to know where they stand politically, what issues are important to them and what they think about the Democratic National Convention.

Each night they'll be watching the big speeches and sharing their reactions with us, so be sure to look here or in the paper for their responses each day.

So, with no further ado... ladies and gentlemen, meet our panelists!

Michael Henning
A self-proclaimed political junkie, Michael Henning is excited to have the DNC in Charlotte. "It's kind of cool to poke around and get on Twitter and see what people are saying," he said.
He's the senior territory manager for U.S. Foods, a company that provides foodstuffs to a number of uptown restaurants in Charlotte. He said the convention is a little "financially inconvenient," but not enough to make him bitter.
The 41-year-old is a registered Democrat, but he said 2008 was the first time he voted that way.
"I don't regret the vote that I cast last time, but like a lot of people I'm not really happy with where we are."
His biggest concern right now, he said, is that neither candidate seems to have a clear plan. Goals are good, he said, but he wants to know the "game plan." Republican politicians didn't lay out specific policies last week, he said, and he hopes the Obama administration will do a better job.
"The last time Obama ran it was all about hope and change and ideas," Henning said. "But this time around I'm looking for specific details: What are we going to do to get the economy moving?"
Economically conservative but socially liberal, he said he feels torn. But this year, he said, the economic issues are probably going to outweigh the social issues.

Meredith Firgueroa
Meredith Figueroa only has one word to describe her political sentiment right now: scared.
She isn't thrilled with Obama's performance the past four years, but said she's worried Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will take away her rights.
Women's rights -- namely the right to abortion -- she said are particularly important.
"What a woman does with her body is between her and God," she said.
She's also socially liberal, she said, like education and gay marriage.
Nevertheless, Obama hasn't won her vote yet.
"I don't think he's living up to full potential," Figueroa said. "I wan to see him step up and say, 'Hey, I'm going to do whatever it takes to get this done.'
"I want to know he's all in."
The 40-year-old mother of three said that having the DNC in Charlotte  is "fantastic for the economy" and might help her warm up to the Democratic party this year.
"I know many of my friends are cranky about it," she said with a laugh. "But they're Republican anyway."

Jamaal Abdul-Awwal
Last election season Jamaal Abdul-Awwal, 31,  voted confidently for Ron Paul, but this year he's on the fence.
"The way politics has gone now it's not so much about floating along party lines," he said. "It's about issues."
He said he aligns with different parties on different issues. But the bottom line is that he wants a president who gets things done.
"They just need to try something," he said. "If it doesn't work, OK, we'll try something else. But try something."
It's important that the Obama administration get specific during the DNC, he said. He doesn't want to hear a vague, motivational speech -- he wants steps one, two and three.
He also wants to hear the president defend his accomplishments and review the progress his administration made.
He's unemployed right now (his new job starts in a few weeks) and he said he plans to spend some of his free time visiting uptown this week to witness the excitement first hand.
"You never know, you might be somewhere eating a sandwich and in walks Joe Biden and you sit down and he tells you some great plan they have," he said. "You just never know."

Jaimie McConnell
The economy is the big issue for Jaimie McConnell, 30, and she said she hopes the DNC will bring new jobs to Charlotte -- particularly those in the housing market.
Her husband works in construction, and their young family has been "greatly affected" by the recession.
Neither Obama nor Romney, she said, have convinced her they're right for the job.
"I keep joking that I'm going to write somebody in."
She said she's bothered by all the politics involved in decision making and feels the candidates' words are almost always scripted.
"Right now what I'm really looking for is for them to show that they think for themselves, that they are human, that they're going to do what is honestly best for people -- not what they're just being pushed to do."
She supports a woman's right to abortion and said she doesn't think the government should regulate who can marry, but she said social issues aren't the crux of this election.
"If you can't eat and you're losing your house, then I don't care if two people down the street can't marry," she said.
The economy impacts her family more than social issues right now, she said, and looking out for her family is what's most important.

-- Melissa Abbey

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Twitter reacts to First Lady Michelle Obama's speech

First Lady Michelle Obama's speech closed the first official night of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte Tuesday.

 How did the speech go over on Twitter? Pretty well, it seems.

See Michelle Obama's video introduction

Here is the video shown Tuesday night to introduce First Lady Michelle Obama on the first night of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.

The video features interviews with President Barack Obama, Craig Robinson, Marian Robinson, Valarie Jarrett, Dr. Jill Biden and more.

Video: Anthony Foxx speech to delegates at DNC

Here's Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx's speech to delegates at #DNC2012:

Tuesday's best and worst of Twitter

The first official day of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte and the first work day of the week led to some interesting conversation on Twitter Tuesday.

Here are some of the best tweets we came across.

DNC, Day 1

Alvin C. Jacobs Jr. (@acjphoto): I’m in (Uptown) Charlotte wearing more press lanyards than a concert roadie, in an impeccable suit and great shoes. Ready. #DNC2012

Shonta Smith (Iesha) (@ShontaSmith2011): Day 1 of driving into Uptown Charlotte for work. More security but less traffic. :-) This is going to be a great day #DNC2012

Mary Beth Schneider (@marybschneider): Remembering the DNC person who told me I would have no trouble parking! Ha!

Blair Phillips (@bpphotography): Think maybe I’ll go to Uptown Charlotte for dinner tonight... oh...wait #DNC2012 #crowded

Thoughts on Charlotte

Laurie Brunner (@Twizznit): “It’s like it’s a real downtown.” - James Carville, describing some Democrats’ initial impression of Charlotte. #DNC2012

Olivier Knox, Yahoo! News White House correspondent (@OKnox): #OHatDNC “Charlotte: Come for the barbecue, stay ’cause you can’t leave.” #trafficjokes #DNC2012

Seen and heard

Bryan Li (@PiscesSushi): Jon Stewart had takeout from us tonight. My life is completed.

DNC humor

Indecision (@indecision): Democrats and Bank of America actually have a lot in common. They both only contact me when they want money.

Bobby Black (@bobbyblack7): Dems: "We can't afford these failed policies of the past! And now, here's Jimmy Carter!"


Andy Borowitz ‏(@BorowitzReport): I worry that while all these folks are in Charlotte for the #DNC Paul Ryan will break into their homes and steal their benefits.


Fake Bev Perdue (@GovBevPerdue): I made it on MSNBC this morning y’all!

Twitter reacts to Wexler's comments on Israel

Former Florida Rep. Robert Wexler spoke at the Democratic National Convention Tuesday about U.S. and Israel relations. Twitter reactions seemed largely negative, with some commenting on the Democrats' platform and others commenting on how the room reacted to the speech.

Twitter sets up special #dnc2012 page

Leading up to the first night of speeches at the Democratic National Convention Tuesday, Twitter set up a special Twitter page for the #DNC2012 hashtag.

The page, which can be found at, will "highlight insider views from Obama campaign staffers, featured DNC speakers, Charlotte organizers, delegates and members of the press," according to the website's blog.

The page does not show all tweets with the #DNC2012 hashtag, but instead attempts to highlight what the website considers the most relevant tweets. A link at the top of the page allows users to see all tweets sent with the hashtag.

Video: The DNC's tribute to Ted Kennedy

The Democrats wasted little time capitalizing on the video tribute to Ted Kennedy, including footage of a 1994 debate between Kennedy and Mitt Romney. The video drew loud cheers and chants of "Teddy, Teddy" from the crowd. They have also posted the Jimmy Carter video address to delegates:

Onlookers react to abortion protest

Flip Benham, leader of Concord-based evangelical Christian group Operation Save America, led an anti-abortion protest Tuesday in uptown Charlotte.

Armed with a microphone and large graphic images, Benham spoke at the corner of Stonewall and College Streets, right in front of the Convention Center. Abortion was Benham's main focus, but he also talked about homosexuality.

Onlookers mostly ignored the group except for the occasional cheer or boo. One passerby approached Benham and said "I love you." Benham's response: "No you don't. You lust me. You don't love me."

Later, two Mormon missionaries approached Benham to offer him a pretzel. A conversation about beliefs followed.

Malcolm Peck, 19, (green shirt) and Trevor Brown, 20, (purple shirt) are in Charlotte for their mission. The two are originally from Utah and said they don't know who they're going to vote for.

Peck said the church stays politically neutral but "pushes us to be involved in politics."

The two said they approached Benham because of the way he was protesting, not necessarily the content.

Social media transforms politics

Wondering about the power of Facebook? Check this: There are now more people on Facebook in the U.S. than people who voted in the 2008 presidential election.

That's according to Joe Lockhart, Facebook's vice president of corporate communications, who adds: "And they are increasingly talking about and sharing perspectives on politics and critical issues facing the country."

That's why Facebookers are on the ground at the Republican National Convention and Democratic National Convention hosting "Apps & Drinks" events with a political twist, said Andrew Noyes, manager of public policy communications at Facebook.

The DNC version on Tuesday featured digital stations where techies and social media experts showcased sites and programs that hope to inspire political engagement in 2012.

"We are highlighting developers of political apps that are finding success with Facebook tools," Noyes said.

Joe Green, co-founder and president of NationBuilder, a community organizing software, was among the presenters. Green described NationBuilder as a single integrated system for anyone hoping to organize "a nation."

The software has around 1,300 users, including Newark, N.J. Mayor Cory Booker and the two leading Kenyan presidential candidates., a nonpartisan group with a mission to increase the voting and purchasing power of youth, also attended the event. OurTime launched in the spring of 2011. Since then, it has helped between 35,000 and 40,000 young people register to vote.

"Social media will change this election from the voter registration perspective," said Jarrett Moreno of Our Time.

Facebook's Lockhart welcomes attendees

The common goal among presenters was not to rally people around a particular candidate or cause, but around the idea of political engagement.

"There are a lot of parties at conventions, but at this one you have the people who are truly shaping politics," Lockhart said. 

Aside from journalists and techies, notable attendees were New York Senator Charles Schumer and White House Communications director Dan Pfieffer.

-- By Kelley Sousa

Traffic cop has a little fun at DNC

With all the protests and security needs, you might think the cops in uptown Charlotte this week are always serious.

Not so.

This officer kept it light while directing uptown traffic at the intersection of 5th Street and Tryon Street.

Video: Twitter's here, with a convention mission

Twitter's team is in Charlotte, with the goal of helping users get closer to the convention. How you can follow:

Dave Barry criticizes Sand Obama, Charlotte's most famous sculpture

Dave Barry of the Miami Herald talks about the sand sculpture of President Obama, and the biggest flaw it has: More Barry, on how Twitter has ruined political convention coverage:

Middle class melts away in Marshall Park

The middle class literally melted away on Monday.

Artists Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese created an ice sculpture in Marshall Park of the words "MIDDLE CLASS."

The artists live streamed and tweeted as the formation disappeared in the Charlotte heat, adding commentary on the symbolism at play.

A space for the people

If it weren't for The PPL's workspace, "We'd be [working] on the street," Jeff Deal said.

Deal, information technology specialist at Appalachian Voices, is working this week from the newsroom of The PPL, a space designated for Democratic National Convention media work and special events at Packard Place. The PPL has been in the making for many months as a workspace that caters to uncredentialed media - like independent bloggers.

But it's not just uncredentialed bloggers making themselves at home at The PPL. Appalachian Voices has several media credentials for the convention center, but decided to register to use the space at The PPL.

"It's just incomparable," Deal said. Because Appalachian Voices registered early, Deal said it didn't cost much more than coffee for the week.

Weeklong passes have gradually gone up in cost over the past few months. Today was the last day to buy a $125 week pass, but $100 day passes are available for Wednesday or Thursday.

Aspects of The PPL that appealed to Deal and the rest of the Appalachian Voices team were wireless internet and cell phone charging, the many panel discussions hosted there and, of course, the prime downtown location.

The PPL workspace has other perks, too: coffee and brownies, a place to leave things during the day, guidance and city advice from Charlotte locals, and the occasional guest appearance. Tuesday, it was Illinois Senator Dick Durbin.

The workspace encourages collaboration and independent work and provides a place for people that don't quite fit into the traditional media mold. As the world continues to turn toward social media, keep an eye out for more organizations like The PPL.

*Disclaimer: Jessica Kennedy interned with Appalachian Voices this summer.

The breakfast scene: Fired up

Charlotte felt very inside-the-beltway today, the first official day of the Democratic National Convention. Breakfast meetings are a staple of conventions, rousing delegates with inspiring speeches. Here's what happened amid quiche and coffee.

Late night Occupy protest unfolds on Twitter

Late Monday night, about 100 Occupy protesters with signs and flags marched near Marshall Park. Many of them wore black, some covered their faces.

Some marched in clumps with linked arms, others ran ahead or remained on the fringe.

The group was repeatedly redirected by the police, by whom they were significantly outnumbered. Take a look at how the march unfolded on Twitter.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Charlotte hotel records 'Call Me Maybe' parody

Another "Call Me Maybe" parody? Another "Call Me Maybe" parody.

This time it's the staff of the Hilton Charlotte Center City with a take on the Carly Rae Jepsen tune. It's called  "DNC, Hilton Baby" and the video shows off the staff's "skills in preparation for the DNC 2012 in Charlotte," according to the video's caption.

Good luck getting the tune out of your head.

Recommendations (and a proposal) for Anderson Cooper

Twitter users familiar with Charlotte jumped at the opportunity to tweet at Anderson Cooper after the CNN anchor posted a request for recommendations in the Queen City.

He may have gotten a little more than he bargained for.

Fun for all at CarolinaFest

The festival began under clear skies and ended early with a thunderstorm warning and hundreds of soggy attendees. Nevertheless, Twitter users raved about celebrity sightings, live music and festivities.

James Taylor's concert is shortened by rain. Let the jokes begin

Monday's best and worst of Twitter

A bath for CarolinaFest

People complaining about the heat at CarolinaFest Monday may have gotten more of a cool-down than they wanted.

Provoking the other party

Warning: the following blog includes the word p*** in it.

For much of today #HowtoPissOffaRepublican trended on Twitter. But it did not take long for Republicans to start a counter hashtag - #HowtoPissOffaDemocrat. The social media war, which likely ensued because of the conventions, reflects the divisiveness of today's political climate.

Which leads me to wonder....if the RNC and DNC inspire such harsh banter, what kind of partisan battle will Twitter see come November? 

Google opens its DNC home base. A Charlotte company is behind the design

Google's home for the Democratic Convention is located at the corner of Tryon and Third streets in uptown Charlotte. Photos by Sergio Tovar
By Sergio Tovar and Corey Inscoe

There was a lot of speculation when shipping crates started to go up on the parking lot on the corner of Third and Tryon streets in uptown Charlotte last week. Because of the familiar color scheme, Google was quickly speculated to be behind the structure.

Google ended the mystery Monday, when it opened the doors to its home during the Democratic National Convention. The facility offers free wifi to the public as well as plenty of sofas and chairs to sit and relax. The air-conditioned tent offers much-needed relief from Charlotte's heat and humidity. Google Bytes, a refreshment bar at the site, features soft drinks, iced coffee and other beverages.

A local company was behind the structure. Boxman Studios, started in Charlotte in 2008 by David Campbell, specializes in recycling shipping containers for hospitality, housing, mobile classrooms and other uses.

Boxman Studios built a structure for Google at the TED Conference in Long Beach, Calif., this spring. Campbell said he started talking with Google about creating a structure for the Democratic National Convention soon after.

Conversations continued through the summer and Boxman Studios finally got the green light to build the structure about a month before the DNC.

"It was a great opportunity for us to partner with them again," said Campbell. "They chose us to help them create the environment they were looking for."

Boxman Studios worked with production company MKG to design the structure, which Campbell said was one of the largest the company has done. The structure was then fabricated Boxman Studios' Charlotte warehouse.

"We always try to push ourselves and try to do something unique," he said.

Campbell said the company had to keep the project a secret for the last month and was happy to reveal it to the public Monday.

"With a partner like Google, you just hope that we can help make this week special for Charlotte and Google," said Campbell. "I think it's going to be an iconic place for people to gather." 

There were also several interactive displays at Google's tent as well as televisions showing coverage of the convention and a studio.

Google set up charging stations, but only for Android phones. Sorry, iPhone fans.

And you can also get a chance to see one of Google's self-driving cars outside the tent.

Google's uptown home will be open Monday until 6 p.m., Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Google Bytes operates from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. It will open Thursday at 10 a.m.

After the convention, Boxman Studios will break down the structure and take it back to its warehouse in Charlotte to be repurposed for future projects.

Free microphones for all

Conventions - and entire election seasons - have become a chorus of voices. From Facebook and Twitter to Tumblr and Reddit and everything in between, anyone with Internet access has the chance to speak up.

"The microphone is now free, and everyone can get a microphone," said Adam Sharp, head of government, news and social innovation at Twitter. "And if you have quality information, you can get scale for that."

Sharp joined panelists from Google, Facebook and the Obama campaign in "The Digital Campaign and Social Media's Impact," a National Journal discussion held in Charlotte today.

Each social media platform is different. Moderator Garance Franke-Ruta, a senior editor at The Atlantic, contrasted Twitter, a moment-by-moment news source, with Facebook, a countervailing force pushing people toward deeper stories. Tumblr is fun, said Joe Rospars, chief digital strategist for Obama's campaign.

Discussing Obama's interview session on Reddit last week, Rospars said it's another community to tap into for campaign organizing - much like Twitter and Facebook, but with its own unique culture.

The people who participate in social media determine their direction, but Twitter staff can step in to make content a little easier to access. When searching for #DNC2012 this week, Tweeters will find a special hashtag page, similar to pages created for the Republican National Convention and the 2012 Olympics.

"The way they work is we use a combination of editorial and algorithmic signals," said Rachael Horwitz, senior manager of communications at Twitter. Algorithms gather tweets based on certain hashtags while a team of editors track down accounts that might be relevant to the page. The editorial team sought out political journalists, candidates and delegates for the #DNC2012 page.

#DNC2012 is already moving at a speed that's hard to keep up with, and Horwitz says it will get even more exciting to watch the page during convention speeches this week.

"Twitter has a way of making people feel closer to the event," Horwitz said. "The tweets coming out of both conventions give people a sort of behind the scenes look at what's going on."

So don't fear - if you can't make it to the convention in Charlotte, you can be here without really being here. Watch the convention on a live stream here (available in English or Spanish) and check out YouTube's politics page for more coverage. To add your voice to the chorus, Tweet with hashtag #DNC2012 or chime in on Facebook on the DemConvention page or the Charlotte in 2012 page. You could even sign a petition to bring Betty White to the DNC.

You have your microphone - how will you use it?

Pins on Pins on Pins

Hot dogs, live music and children in strollers make CarolinaFest appear like any other street festival. But the prevalence of pins reminds attendees that the daylong event has a political tinge.

So which pin is the most popular? Mark Evans of Hot for Buttons said the "Women for Obama" pin has hands down been the best seller. Barrie Trinkle of Via Delia Buttonista pointed to the pin "Democratic Women are the Life of the Party," saying it was a popular pick. 

Theresa Black and Susan Weatherholt of Hernando and Brandon, Mississippi sported their Obama pins proudly. Black and Hernando said they believed Obama has been a firm supporter of women's rights.

Video: Jesse Jackson visits talks Obama, empty chairs

Political activist Jesse Jackson is visiting the Observer newsroom this afternoon, and he talked about a number of issues, including President Obama and empty chairs. He also had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich made by an Observer editor between meeting with editorial page editors and doing a Google Hangout with The Observer and WCNC-TV. A short video from Jackson's visit:

Pundits discuss North Carolina

Gary Nielson talked to political analysts Charlie Cook and David Gergen Monday after a panel discussing the release of the Elon Poll.

Cook runs the The Cook Political Report and is an analyst for the National Journal and NBC. Gergen, the director of the Center for Public Leadership and a professor of public service at Harvard's Kennedy School, is an editor-at-large for U.S. News and World Report as well as a CNN analyst.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Sunday's best and worst of Twitter

The feed was full today. But the flow was not all news. Catch some highlights from today's Twitter commentary below. 

It's party time for DNC delegates

National media members talk about Charlotte during Observer brunch

Two members of the national media talked with the Observer's Gary Nielson about Charlotte and what they expect from the Democratic National Convention during a brunch at the Observer Sunday.

Bloomberg's Al Hunt spoke about how much the city has changed since the last time he visited. He thinks Charlotte is a "great convention town." He also seemed to be impressed by Mayor Anthony Foxx.

PBS' Judy Woodruff called Charlotte a "shining star in the South" and said that, in her experience, every convention provides some surprise.

Videos of Sunday's protest in uptown Charlotte

Charlotte Observer reporter Gary Nielson posted several videos of Sunday's Occupy Wall Street South protest in uptown Charlotte to his Twitter account.

Protesters march past the Duke Energy building in uptown Charlotte:

Protesters sit outside the Duke Energy building in uptown Charlotte:
A large police presence followed the protest as it moved through uptown Charlotte:
Steff York from Minneapolis is in town protesting banks:
But not all of the protesters in Sunday's march were concerned with banks. Bernardo Vasquez from Marietta, Ga., says immigration reform is what brought him to Sunday's protest:
 Elaine Brower from Staten Island said she came to protest war, not the banks:
Charlotte's Kelly Picarsic and her two children came to the protest focused on global warming:
Protesters stop in front of the Duke Energy building to speak about clean energy:
Follow the Observer's Democratic National Convention Twitter account, @dnc2012clt, for more news and information all week.

Sweaty complaints about Charlotte

With today's big event, the March on Wall Street South, not quite living up to expectations, the Twitter world latched onto the other "hot" news - Charlotte's weather. From delegates talking about the climatic adjustment to marchers chanting "beat the heat, take a seat," everyone noticed the unpleasant conditions. And they took to social media to talk about it.

Let's talk barbecue

The Democratic National Convention is bringing people from all over the world to Charlotte. They're here to talk about politicians, the economy, social issues and... barbecue?

Yep, you read that right. Though some might argue that the Queen City isn't a "barbecue town" like Lexington or Goldsboro, Twitter users are busy chatting about the delectable dish.

Smaller protest than expected

Although estimates of the number of protesters were lower than anticipated, the March on Wall Street South was still loud and clear. Hashtags #MOWSS, #occupyCLT, #occupyDNC, #resistDNC and #peoplespower gave an idea of the range of actions and reactions in the protest.

DNC Eve Panel for Journalists

Before the Democratic National Convention gets into full swing, the UNC School of Journalism and Mass Communication and the Charlotte Observer partnered to sponsor a roundtable discussion for journalists covering the convention.

The event, "Red States and Purple States," contextualized current trends and issues in Southern politics. UNC J-School Dean Susan King described it as a "mini news hour" for some journo "wonks."

Special guests included Judy Woodruff, senior correspondent of PBS NewsHour, and Scott Keeter, director of survey research at the Pew Research Center. Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx and Democratic Congressman David Price also attended.

Hodding Carter, university professor of leadership and public policy
Peter Coclanis, Albert Ray Newsome Distinguished Professor of History; director, Global Research Institute
Kareem Crayton, associate professor of law
Jacquelyn Hall, Julia Cherry Spruill Professor of History; founder, Southern Oral History Program
Gene Nichol, Boyd Tinsley Distinguished Professor of Law; director, Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity
Jesse White, adjunct professor of government; former executive director, Southern Growth Policies Board

"SandObama" Damaged by Heavy Rains

The 15.5 ton sand sculpture of President Barack Obama, built from sand brought in from Myrtle Beach, S.C., still stands despite heavy rains. Workers this morning repaired a portion of the bust and arm and smoothed out "rain acne" from water damage.

Follow the conversation on Twitter at #SandObama.

Preparing for March on Wall Street South

Twitter is abuzz with posts about today's March on Wall Street South, which kicked off at 11 a.m. with a rally before the 1 p.m. march.

Follow protest activity at the DNC on Twitter with #MOWSS, #occupyCLT, #occupyDNC and #ResistDNC. Let us know if there's a hashtag we're missing!

Delegates Flock to Twitter As They Arrive

Nearly 6,000 delegates arrive to scattered storms in Charlotte, N.C., this weekend. As the city transforms for the convention, delegates from across the country set out to explore Charlotte before the DNC begins.

They're here. They're excited. They want to see the best of Charlotte. Follow their conversations at #DNCdelegate. Are there other hashtags we should follow? Let us know!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Media party takes over social media

With the official start of the Democratic National Convention only a few days away, local and national media were welcomed to Charlotte Saturday night at a party held at the N.C. Music Factory.

The media dominated the #DNC2012 hashtag and even created one of their own - #cltnerdprom - during the event.

Hey, DNC, prepare to get mocked

National conventions are meant to inspire the party. But inevitably, they also inspire mockery. With its 140-character limit, Twitter is often the repository for that mockery. Here's a sampling of fun poked at the Republican National Convention. Stay tuned for DNC teasing.

Drowning in Twitter yet? We're here for you

As news of last week’s Republican National Convention tapers off and chatter over this week’s Democratic National Convention begins, a tidal wave of Tweets will likely flood your feed. 

To help sift through the clutter, we’ll compile some of our favorite accounts and hashtags – from the informative to the humorous. Keep checking this @charlotte blog for updates on this front.

With the Twitter action just starting, here’s what we’re liking so far:

(Warning: shameless plug coming.) For hard news on the local level, our @DNC2012clt account has plenty of DNC coverage -- but we won’t drown you in Tweets. It’s all carefully combed through, to give you a full but intelligent report. (You can get great stuff like this photo, from our own Ann Helms prowling DNC gifts sold at the Westin:)

If you’re looking for a national source, follow our news partner @politico.

Straight convention news can be found at the official 2012 Democratic National Convention Committee account @DemConvention.

Interested in the Republican reaction? We suggest the hashtag #WeCanChangeIt – a theme used throughout the RNC -- and #tcot, Top Conservatives on Twitter. The GOP has also emphasized the #WeBuiltIt theme.

Want to hear from the Democrats? @Obama2012 has increased activity as the DNC nears. And @InvisibleObama, a parody account, has gained more than 60,000 followers since it was created in reaction to Clint Eastwood’s speech.

Protest news can be found @wallstsouth and from our very own @DougObserver. #ResistDNC seems to be a commonly used hashtag among the protestors.

Already overwhelmed? Don’t fret. Throughout the week, trends will emerge, accounts will shine, and we will be there to help you follow the news that you want and need. 

See something we don’t? Let us know @DNC2012clt or here on our blog.

-- Kelley Sousa