Monday, November 10, 2008

Election Wrap Editorial

Photo courtesy of Jennifer Suarez

Social Networking, The Genie is Out of the Bottle
By Jake Putnam

Boise--The American public will remember election day 2008 as the year voters got their voice back. For the first time social media helped decide a presidential election outright. And for the first time Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and countless blogs not only got the vote out in record numbers but raised unprecedented billions of dollars, a feat unimaginable just four years ago.

In many instances social networking by clever candidates by-passed biased media, talk radio and even political machines. This new age saw an unprecedented level of public participation. Suddenly a Boise blogger can post a poltical story on multiple blog sites raising the buzz level of an issue from molehill into a mountain in a mater of hours.

Up to the closure of the polls last Tuesday the online community worked at breakneck pace. Blog posts were produced by the thousands, twitter feeds came in at breakneck speed, a few ambitious hacks made last-ditch YouTube videos urging people to vote and news websites like KTVB's award winning site along with CNN pulled out all stops to facilitate interactivity and social participation.

In the 2008 campaign voters and politicians had an unprecedented conversation with their lawmakers through the feedback features on countless blog sites and the social networking sphere. But it's also a double edged sword, politicians like Sara Palin (fairly or unfairly) was subject to the slings and arrows of public scrutiny.

The losers in this revolution are the traditional gate holders of power, the political parties, the machines, the money changers. A room full of idealistic bloggers can raise more money, do more damage in an hour than a party organization can do in a month.

In the end voters turned out in record numbers, campaigns raised record amounts of money and politics in America has changed forever. The candidate that gets there first, embraces emerging technologies, and mobilizes volunteers first can overcome biased media, traditional party tags and machines that once held them back.

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