The First Internet Presidency

Posted on November 8, 2008 by Tony Uphoff

Regardless of your politics one thing we can all agree on is that the Obama presidency represents the first Internet presidency. Comparisons to the use of television in the 1960 election have been made but miss the mark. Television is a broadcast medium. The internet is an engagement medium. The 2008 election demonstrated the power of the internet as a medium to engage large groups, while also allowing community leaders-defined by the online networks they are a part of-to play significant roles in shaping opinion, sharing their ideas and rallying votes. The impact of the Internet on this election was not exclusive to the youth vote either. The under 30 vote for Obama was impressive but negligible in the end representing the equivalent of a two state swing that did not have a determining impact on the election.

If we needed further proof that the Internet is the center of gravity this election was it. The stats are irrefutable. Take for instance web video. More people watched web clips of the candidates and the pundits online than they did in their original format on television; either broadcast or cable. The comedy skits and riffs from comedians ranging from David Letterman, to John Stewart to Tina Fey channeling Palin on SNL were passed around on the net at an astounding level. Added to the breakout of the Internet as the dominant platform for the recent Olympics, this election ushers in a whole new era for media and marketing.

We took an in depth look at the impact this election will have on technology and IT in our just released Dawn of The Internet Presidency from our InformationWeek Analytics & Reports group. Every new administration influences how technology is viewed legislatively and symbolically. There will be an even more profound and lasting effect based on this election however.

The use of online applications like Facebook, Twitter, customized emails and other community development tools by the Obama campaign will forever change how elections are run. Mark Zuckerberg CEO of Facebook spoke about this impact at our Web 2.0 Summit earlier this week. The ripple effect of this will go well beyond presidential elections however. This is a clarion call for media, marketing and IT. Today web based technology and development are as core to media as camera, production and printing technology was to the previous generation. This election demonstrated the tremendous power that online media provides for user driven distribution and circulation for serious issues...not just funny youtube videos.

In the end is this really new? Perhaps for many of us who have been living at the center of web based media for the last decade this isn't a surprise. What is new however is that this election will be remembered as the tipping point that irrevocably drove the Internet to the center of gravity for mainstream media and marketing.,

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