It took the technology team nearly a year, but it produced software that allowed all of the campaign’s lists to talk to one another. The team named it Narwhal, after a whale of amazing strength that lives in the Arctic but is rarely seen....So, "amazing strength" and Arctic habitat are the distinguishing features of the narwal? Here's a picture to help you think about what these folks really said when choosing this name:
Back to Balz:
The next goal was to create a program that would allow everyone... to communicate simply and seamlessly... That brought about the creation of Dashboard...Tusked!
The Obama leaders not only wanted all the lists to be able to talk to one another, they also wanted people to be able to organize their friends and family members.... “... what if we could build a piece of software that tracked all this and allowed you to match your friends on Facebook with our lists"....
It took months and months to solve, but it was a huge breakthrough. If a person signed on to Dashboard through his or her Facebook account, the campaign could, with permission, gain access to that person’s Facebook friends.... The [Obama] team could supply people with information about their friends based on data it had independently gathered.... It knew who was solid for Obama and who needed more persuasion — and a gentle or not-so-gentle...
... nudge to vote. Instead of asking someone to send a message to all of his or her Facebook friends, the campaign could present a handpicked list of the three or four or five people it believed would most benefit from personal encouragement....Here's an idea: Get the officials at huge universities in swing states to let you hold big rallies on campus, cancelling classes, and let the campaign require students seeking access to send the campaign their email addresses.
On Obama’s target lists, the voter file contained no good contact information for half of those young voters — they didn’t have land lines, and no other information was available.