Countdown to Election: Manual Labor

 

Into the Deep Muddy: The making of a Facebook daily-change graphic

It was a hot, humid night in July, 2018. The midterms were looming and DA global was looking for ways to excite the abroad members. The regional EMEA meeting murmured that a countdown graphic of some sort would help build the buzz.

DAGR left the meeting, turned to the Internet and Google, in search of a bright, usable gif to plug into the DAGR Facebook page.

You know, the kind of automatic, one-click, it’s there and working, gif that we could plug in and turn our attentions to other pressing electoral business for the ensuing 3 months.

Pink text with charming flower border? Um, no. How about a bit of red-white-blue with a prominent placement of the originating website’s logo. Um, no. Not that either. How about …?

There didn’t seem to be ANY that were ready-made, that would flip over every 24 hours, and that somehow said … ‘Register and vote, folks!’

Then DAGR Chair, Karen Lee, was a low-skill user of one of those graphics applications (never flog a commercial site, but, it was Photoshop). The trick, of course, was to construct a multi-layer graphic that would allow a change of number every day as well as a change of ‘main message’ text as seemed appropriate.

She threw together something that looked okay and shared it with the Vice Chair, Steve Medeiros, and a couple of others. Yeah! Looks good! Let’s go with it.

We went with it. And the first “100 days till election” banner went up on the Facebook page.

“The problem was,” says Lee, “it didn’t flip automatically like the countdown apps we’d looked at.” The banner graphic had to be changed every night. That also meant, a new jpg had to be created for each day, by changing the number in the graphics apps. And it had to be changed on Facebook every night, just before logging off for the night. It was the last thing, every 24 hours.

Worse yet, in those days, “We thought it would be cool to have the countdown on all our pages and groups,” says Lee. No problem, just an extra 10 clicks or so, and it was changed on both DAGR and Thessaloniki pages. But we also had, and still have, two closed groups: Women’s Caucus and Issues Group. And Facebook, in its great wisdom, required two different size/resolutions for public pages and closed groups. So, the nightly work extended … doubled.

Once you’re into the rhythm, though, you just keep pumping away.

In the end, 2018 saw 100 days x 2 resolutions per day, which is a total of 200 separate graphics files. And it was extended for about 10 days after election day to include late reports and exhortations for members to check and make sure their votes had been counted. Altogether, 2018 required about 220 graphics files.

In 2020, no better automatic countdown apps having been found, Chair Stacey Papaioannou took it upon herself to carry on the tradition. The graphic files … thankfully with days-out and no specific calendar days on them … were ready to use again. And so they were! This time Chair Stacey changed the banners every night.

And she’s doing it again for the crucial midterm elections 2022!

Would DAGR say no to someone else stepping up to furl and unfurl the banners every night? Nope! But the prerequisites for the volunteer job are ‘dogged determination to wash, rinse and repeat’ before the clock strikes midnight. Dogged.

Every night.

Rain or shine.

Wined/dined or dry/hungry.

Hey, it’s only for 2.5 months.

And the soul of democracy.