As it says in the title, this is a non-political post, rather someone shot me an e-mail told me to check you Barack Obama's website, specifically, the social networking portion of it, so I had to go check it out.
Holy crap! This is a polished product for people that want to support the Obama campaign. Furthermore, I don't think I've ever seen anything this robust on a political candidate's site before. Of course I had to go poking around to try and see who built this for him, but there is simply no documentation of anyone having created it for him -- everything points to the social side of the site being hosted and property of Obama. My guess would be that one of the bigger social networking companies created this custom software suite for Obama, and if they did, I'm sure that it cost his campaign a significant amount of money, but based on how much money is spent on interruption advertising during campaigns, my guess will be that the investment in this social networking portal will wind up being significantly more effective than the equivalent cash cost of television advertising.
Chances are good that it's going to be hard for the other candidates to catch up in a meaningful way in time for the next election and it will be interesting to see (assuming Obama releases the information) what kind of traffic the site gets.
I'll also be interested to see what other kinds of ways Obama's campaign uses the web and social networking to promote their candidate -- obviously Obama or someone on his campaign (or both) is pretty savvy about the way internet-based America is working these days.