From Place to Space
This December 2010 piece explores the use of web 2.0 in the most recent general election. Observing the use of blogs, YouTube and MySpace, among others, the article links the use of these utilities by candidates, supporters and critics to the prediction polls from Gallup. Given the nature and use of these utilities, the findings are somewhat unsurprising. Blogs mirror traditional media (television, newspapers and radio) in their influence, primarily due to their platforms for discussion and inspection.
The article does, however, discuss the rapidity of change in this space, noting the massive growth in YouTube since the study began along with the absence of Facebook data. Mentions of candidates on blogs are merely mentions, and don’t reflect a positive, negative or neutral tone. Through ratings and ‘likes’, these sources will allow for a more telling set of predictions. Moreover, YouTube and Facebook help differentiate between candidate influence on the voter and candidate influence on the platform. Whereas blog are susceptible to manipulation, Facebook pages allow one to participate in a conversation amongst friends and real people, not just commenters in the blogosphere.
The internet has acted as an augmentation of traditional media, though the growth of Facebook and Twitter since the 2008 election is changing this massively. Mainstream media are collecting data from Twitter, augmenting new media with traditional broadcasting and journalism.
This new dissemination of candidate information is leveling the playing field in elections, allowing easier, cheap access for political voices and influence. The information age calls for skillful use of new media and a discouraging of traditional media manipulation.