The San Diego based website Eventful, which is logging away in Scotland, is encouraging users to make demands of politicians as when some Eventful's users brought John Edwards, a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, to the 299 population Columbus, Kentucky.
Eventful users track events of interest to them, as well as "demand" that desired events happen in their area. The demand service was launched in March 2006. Users can register demands for particular public figures through Eventful's site, through widgets available on some blogs, or through applications on MySpace, Facebook, and NetVibes.
Once they make a demand, users can then launch a grassroots effort to get more people to sign on to the demand. The idea is that once a large enough number of people demand an event, the celebrity in question will take notice and appear.
"What happened almost immediately after we rolled out the service was that performers--particularly musicians and comedians--embraced the service as a way to engage their fans and empower them with influence over where they appear," says Eventful CEO Jordan Glazier, adding that performers find demographic data from the site valuable, not to mention its communications module, which they can use to respond to fans making demands.
Musicians were among the first to discover Eventful - more than 20,000 of them are believed to be using the site. But political candidates soon followed suit. Democrat Barack Obama, known for his campaign's technological savvy, was first to join, as have Edwards and Republican Ron Paul .
The results can coax politicians out of the heavily populated cities. Glazier says that he thinks there were more demands from smaller cities because residents of larger cities knew main politicians would inevitably appear in their area. Columbus logged up more than 1,800 demands for Edwards, and between 1,500 and 2,000 people turned up at the event.
Shawn Dixon, the New York University Law School student who organised the campaign to bring Edwards to Columbus, says that his city gathered demand for Edwards by support from rural citizens in the area surrounding Columbus.
Dixon sees sites such as Eventful as an opportunity for people in rural areas to make their voices heard. He says he didn't miss the irony that, in an area where many people have access only to dial-up Internet connections, the Internet was what brought Edwards off the beaten path. "We're working with one hand tied behind our back here, and we pulled this off," he says.