Digital Politics: Social Media Mania and the US Election
You know that every news organization in the world has covered every conceivable angle of the election, so there is no shortage of available information.
But how have people engaged with the election online?
Let's review the ways many Americans — and people around the world — have been talking about the results, mapping election results, and participating in the global conversation about this unprecedented and historic election.
NowPublic will be updating this post throughout the day - please send us your links or add them as comments below!
FACEBOOK: If you logged onto the site on Tuesday, you would likely have seen everyone that you know posting a status update about going to vote, having voted, or wishing they could vote. Millions of members joined in a campaign called "Donate Your Facebook Status" -- both to support a specific candidate and to simply encourage voter turnout.
By the end of day Tuesday, more than 1.7 million people participated and more than 4,9 million Facebook status messages were donated, making it "the largest online rally in history".
Read more: http://apps.facebook.com/causes/election
TWITTER: The heavy artillery of the microblogosphere's election coverage. Not only was every user on the planet tweeting about voting and the election, Twitter also set up a separate, live-updated elections page that tracked every tweet mentioning election issues: http://election.twitter.com
Some of the hottest Twitter topics on election day included: President-Elect, President Obama, White House, #votereport, Happy Obama day, Gobama, Prop 8, #good, Chicago, Karl Rove, Grant Park, Voted Obama
The online poll produced a decisive win for Barack Obama who received 20,894 votes compared to a mere 3,415 for John McCain.
Twitter also tracked where people voted, and how long they had to wait, through their live-updated site Twitter Vote Reports: http://blog.twittervotereport.com
Bloggers responded in suit with initiatives, such as the one by Miguel23, who asked Twitter users to declare what they would do if Obama didn't win the election: Fill in the blank: If Obama does not win, I am going to __________. It looks like those plans will have to be put on hold.
Read more NowPublic coverage here: Internet Election Slang: Obama FTW!
YOUTUBE: The world's biggest video-sharing site jumped in on the political action by partnering with PBS to get users to submit videos of their voting experiences to http://www.youtube.com/videoyourvote
The videos have been conveniently colour-coded and mapped (natch) and, as of Wednesday, 1,190 videos had been uploaded to the site.
For posterity, you can also view the raw video footage of both presidential candidates casting their votes:
And, of course, the videos of their respective acceptance and concession speeches:
LIVE VIDEO: There were thousands of televised news streams available from cable, satellite, and digital news sources, but there were also some incredible options for watching online video streams as the election results rolled in:
UStream.tv partnered with Rock the Vote and Warner Bros, ABC News, PressPass, Politico, and One News Now and provided video content streams throughout the day and evening. See a recap: http://www.ustream.tv
CNN provided comprehensive live video coverage of both the Obama and McCain camps. Minus the requisite overdose of Wolf Blitzer. Learn more: http://www.cnn.com/live
Mogulus offered a host of live video streams with media partners that included: TheUptake.org, GroundReport, the Chicago Sun Times, Detroit Free Press, among many others. Fascinating. View more at: Mogulus Featured channels
Of note, was the Chicago Sun Times stream of Obama celebrations at Grant Park in Chicago, which became ever more fascinating as the night (and the partying) went on.
LiveStation linked to a number of online video streams from a variety of TV channels and news sources: http://www.livestation.com/
VISUALIZING THE DATA: PERSPECTV produced a striking and beautiful set of live-updated graphs, blog widgets, timelines, aggregated Twitter feeds, and electoral maps. Highly recommended: http://www.perspctv.com
FIVETHIRTYEIGHT did a great job of providing dynamic visualizations of results, polls, and projections at: FiveThirtyEight.com
GOOGLE: The internet giant had all the data one could ever need to assemble and re-package online electoral and voting information and they attempted to map out many ways of doing just that.
But rumours persisted that much of their "live-updated" content simply wasn't updating — and users were left with a dearth of results across the Google information spectrum. See what they attempted:
Google election maps, and
FLICKR: The popular photo-sharing site has filled up fast with thousands and thousands of election-related photos. Check out the following Flickr groups for voting pics aplenty:
And, of course, the biggest of any election-related groups is for the President-Elect: Barack Obama "2008" Photos
SECOND LIFE: Users flocked to virtual world site, Second Life, to share in the celebrations. So many, in fact, that the site reached maximum capacity.
Elsewhere, dozens of Obama supporters clapped, danced and cheered inside the behemoth virtual world Second Life immediately after the Democratic nominee seized the electoral votes. Many avatars were left out of the virtual celebration in Obama's unofficial Second Life headquarters because the digital enclave had reached maximum capacity Tuesday.
"The long nightmare is OVER!" an avatar named Jordanna Beaumont exclaimed.
IF THE WORLD COULD VOTE: This site offered a fun online poll where international netizens could cast votes for either American candidate.
The results have been tallied and more than 868,000 digital votes were cast, with Obama winning 87.3% and McCain taking 12.7%. View the results: http://www.iftheworldcouldvote.com/results
NPR: National Public Radio linked with Twitter on the Vote Report project to monitor "voting irregularities, everything from long waits and broken voting machines to polling places with insufficient ballots". They also set up an interactive map to "track election problems reported by voters". Learn more about problems that voters encountered at: NPR Vote Report
WIRED: The digerati mag also got in on the "voting report" action by asking its readers to submit any problems or issues they have had voting. Wired worked with the advocacy group Election Protection to publish, map, colour-code, and cross-reference this information in real-time: Wired: Problems Voting in the General Election?
ELECTION MIXTAPES: If you were looking for some music to provide the soundtrack for all of the election mania, there were a few options available, although, now that the election has been decided, these pro-Obama mixes sound far more official...and presidential.
Master of the mashup, DJ Z-Trip, compiled an upbeat Obama mixtape for the 'GoBama nation'. Listen to it on iMeem: Z-Trip Obama Mix
Or, if Z-Trip ain't your thing, you can also take a listen to the Green Lantern & Russell Simmons - Yes We Can! Mixtape
ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: For more links to social media and its role in this historic U.S. election, check out the following:
Business Week liveblogged online election-related links
Blog Herald compiled Election Day 2008: The Best Blogs and Social Media Resources
Huffington Post amassed an Election Widget Aggregator with videos, blogs, and more
Make the Internet a Better Place: offered up Tools for Tracking the Election
Laughing Squid posted an excellent list of alternative online news sources:
Here are a few ways to keep track of it all:
- Current Diggs the Election (Current, Digg, Twitter & 12seconds)
- Video Your Vote (YouTube & PBS)
The internet has officially become an integral part of the American political landscape and of electoral history.
These are defining times that have fundametally changed civic engagement in the political process — and rallied millions of new people to participate in changing the way news and information are discovered, shared, discussed, and disseminated.
Please share your thoughts and comments on this issue below.