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.

Barack Obama (Twitter)


Posted on August 8, 2011, in Discussion Leader and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. I thought your topic and presentation were very interesting. I was surprised that blogs were the most accurate at mirroring traditional media in their influence. Before you explained it, I would have thought number of YouTube views would be the most similar to reflecting the public’s views. It makes sense that blogs would be similar since people actually write about what they are thinking.
    Polls where the number of mentions never quite made sense to me because you don’t know if people are saying good or bad things when they mention the subject. I think it will be helpful to have some sort of context using ‘likes’ or another tool to find out if the mention of the subject is used in a positive or negative way. Hopefully, this will make polls more accurate.

  2. I would like to start out by saying that I was wondering the same thing Anneka brought up, whether “people are saying good or bad things when they are mentioned in the subject”. I think it is most certainly interesting, to say the least, that politicians are using “new media” (Aka twitter, Facebook, etc.) as a way to inform voters about their role in the elections and their views. As you mentioned, “through ratings and ‘likes’, these sources will allow for a more telling set of predictions.” I think these “settings” on various née media sites will help sort out the positive and negative mentionings of a candidate.

  3. Politicians are, indeed, using new media to get through to potential voters and supporters. With more children growing up tech-savvy, by broadcasting themselves to the young voters, politicians’ support grow as technology grows. I remember that YouTube played a huge role in the 2008 Elections. During the live debate, user submitted videos asked the candidates political questions. I wonder what it’d be like in 2012. Even Twitter is big for politicians as they can constantly update their followers on issues and problems and how it can be resolved.

  4. Like Anneka mentions, “you don’t know if people are saying good or bad things when they mention the subject,” I also believe that it would be helpful if there were more ways of finding out how people actually feel about it. This topic seems very interesting, I would’ve liked to listen to it. I remember the 2008 Elections very clearly. It was one of the first elections I was actually really involved in. One of the reasons is probably because media played a huge role during that election. I may have never been interested in the elections if I didn’t see all the politicians using social networking sites etc. I even went to the inauguration and it was an experience I will never forget. It’s really nice seeing that politicians are using new media to engage and find supporters. I think it’s really effective, especially to inform young voters.

  5. i agree a lot that in the next election the internet and social media will be a very strong launchpad for a lot of candidates. the campaigns that are internet savvy have a huge advantage over the candidates that are not. While money will still be a big factor of campaigns, the internet can be used to raise some of this money. So the candidates with the most money could be the ones with the most interesting twitter feed.

  6. Great presentation, when you yourself were questioning the credibility of your charts because of the date, which held one of your strongest arguments, I personally thought it was very appropriate. The fact that facebook wasn’t in the study means that it wasn’t highly used yet, but because there was the most political activity on mutually communicating channels reveals more about human nature and the cyberwold. I believe if there was a study done on Facebook of how many times there is a “liked” post in the political world, it would yield biased results. It would predict approximately how many people support their cause but because usually people can only read a group/page is if they have already liked it. It would be very one-dimensional without being able to re-communicate opinion and pertinent information.

  7. I agree that blogs differ a lot from social media websites like Facebook and Twittter. Since blogs aren’t as intuitive as Facebook when it comes to feedback, it lacks in the information it can gather. This information will be very helpful to candidates and voters when it comes to knowing how different groups of people feel about different candidates. The ability to like something on Facebook has been a very helpful tool in many different areas, but politically it will be essential to campaigning. Youtube will also be helpful because it gives people a chance to see the politicians speak and gives them a better idea of who they will or won’t be voting for in elections.

  8. Your presentation was very relevant and I thought it was really interesting that it is predicted the 2012 elections will be determined by Facebook and Twitter. This is a little bit frightening in the aspect that some people will take whatever is posted on Facebook or Twitter and believe it without doing any further research into political issues. However, for those who do know how to combat information overload, the way politicians are using new media to converse with citizens could take our democracy to a whole new level.

    If you think about it our country was founded as a republic and elections were designed in a way that all citizens would be able to be represented or heard. As the country has grown politics have become more and more about the lobbyists and whoever has the most money. The use of internet in elections and politics opens the door once again for every citizen to have a voice and to interact with the politicians on a more personal level. It also allows citizens to discuss important issues with each other in a public arena which provides us with transparency which is so key for a democracy.

  1. Pingback: week 8 – Monday (8 Aug 2011) « COM300: Basic Concepts of New Media

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