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Des Moines, Iowa
USA

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Election 2.0

Geoff Wood

Campaign 2008 was historic for several reasons and not to be forgotten is the way that current technology allows everyday citizens to participate and follow along through television, radio, and online.

Television

I wasn’t content to watch the election coverage on any one network, instead I flipped between several. I started with NBC, moved on to BBC America, then back to NBC, then to CNN, then to Comedy Central, then back to NBC. It’s really interesting to see the different perspectives from each organization. NBC is trusted and familiar(1), BBC America provided the international perspective, CNN was trying to impress with visual wizardry, and Comedy Central, was obviously hilarious. BBC America may have been my favorite; it was a bit disorganized and a bit lacking in knowledge about our political system (which is to be expected, being Brits and all) and actually fairly funny. Their live remotes weren’t smooth and they added lots of random anecdotes for their international audience like, “Iowa has just been called for Obama; Iowa is a state with 6 pigs for every resident”.(2)

Another television difference on this election night is the advent of HDtv. We’re only several weeks into our HDtv experience but I was impressed with NBC’s use of the technology, not only showing an improved and spectacularly clear picture but also using the extra screen real estate to show results and graphs to keep you up to speed throughout the evening.  

Radio

In the age of iPod I don’t listen to the radio all that much but I did quite a bit throughout the campaign. XM radio, and the ability to have national coverage, is a blessing on the long road trips to and from Iowa and along with its POTUS ’08 station. I listened to replays of several Obama speeches(3) and even the entire Vice Presidential debate on the way to and from losing Iowa State football contests.

Online

The big technology change is social media. While watching the television results, I bounded back and forth between the election coverage on Twitter and my own profile on Facebook. Twitter, a website that allows you to post a mere 140 character or less statement (known as a “tweet”), is surprisingly fun and informative. Their election coverage was to pool the tweets of millions of users on various election topics in real time. So, when the critical State of Ohio was announced for Obama, I could click on the word “Ohio” and the see a scrolling window (again, in real time) of everyone’s (millions of people that I don’t know) thoughts on Ohio. What a great tool. It was also fun to follow along during the debates to view people’s reactions to the candidates’ responses, as well.

I have it set up so that my tweets become my status in Facebook. Inside Facebook, people can comment on items such as each other’s status and never have I seen that used more than during election night.

Election Night is somewhat of anomaly as far as nights go, since all around the country (world) people were at home watching the same event at the same time and following it online. I’m excited to see how the Obama Administration uses technology to bolster their abilities to lead our government over the next four(4) years and also excited to see how we the people use technology to participate in it.

(1)I love The Today Show (2)I have no idea if that ratio is true. (3)Both Barack and Michele’s speeches (4) Eight!?!