The rise of political ‘gotcha’ videos is nothing new, but people may be surprised to learn the power that video can truly give the amateur activist.

Take the recent career ending Helen Thomas YouTube video filmed by Rabbi David F. Nesenoff. According to Howard Kurtz of the Washington Post, speaking at last week’s Vocus Users Conference, uploading of the video was delayed for 10 days because Rabbi Nesenoff’s ‘webmaster’ son had finals and just didn’t have time to get it online. This was not some carefully orchestrated campaign, but an average guy with a video cam and some obviously limited tech resources.

Mike Panetta, who also spoke at the Vocus event, discussed the power of video and how technological advances have put video cameras and basic editing software in the hands of many smartphone users. As new video enabled phones hit the market, you can expect to see even more amateur activists emerge. Mike also offered an example of a slightly more polished amateur activist’s video from a disgruntled airline passenger who used video (and song) to express his anger with United Airlines for breaking his guitar: very funny!!

Beware the guy with the smartphone, he may be filming you right now!