Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Internet & Politics

In 1992, talk shows (TV and radio) became the buzz medium. Bill Clinton, on late-night talk TV, blew on his sax. Rush Limbaugh flexed his talk radio muscle. By 1994, talk shows from TV and radio wielded significant influence. Today they're merely part of the media whole.

In the mid 1990s, many Americans discovered the Internet (never mind it had been around since 1969). The Web made it easy for everyday people to get online, the click-and-duh moment (yeah, I'm a net elitist who fondly remembers the early days). By 2000 the Net became truly influential in presidential politics. Today, like talk shows, it's been mainstreamed.

Thus a new report by the fine folks at Pew comes as no surprise, but is welcome nonetheless.

The lede:
A record-breaking 46% of Americans have used the internet, email or cell phone text messaging to get news about the campaign, share their views and mobilize others. And Barack Obama's backers have an edge in the online political environment.

As with all Pew reports, this one is finely researched, full of rich detail. I'm not going to repeat it here, but what people know about the campaign is more and more influenced by what they see, what they read, and what they post themselves online. From YouTube to blogs to, how people learn about candidates and campaigns is changing. All for the good? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. Great piece this month in The Atlantic (the print issue, so go spend a few bucks!)about how Google is making us all dumber. I read it. Felt even dumber, because I suspect it's true; but that's the stuff of another post, another time.

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