I'll be honest, I'm having trouble concentrating on regular work today. Of course it's election day that's distracting me, so I decided I'd at least be useful and write a blog post about it. Not about politics, who or what I'm voting for because this isn't the place for that. I'm looking at the entire election process, campaign and coverage, and how much everything has changed since the last time we had a presidential election in 2004. It would take me twice as long to write about the changes since the last time we had two new candidates in 2000, so I'll focus on 2004.
It's not that the Internet didn't have a large role in 2004, it did. Remember Howard Dean's internet campaign and how many people watched him scream? But in 2004, Facebook was just getting started as a Harvard student network, YouTube hadn't officially launched, never mind Twitter and Stephen Colbert was still a correspondent for The Daily Show. CNN had maps, but nothing like the "magic map" of 2008. Thank you SNL for bringing our fascination with that back down to earth, although CNN will be using holograms tonight for heaven's sake.
In 2008 we have candidate and cause Facebook groups and the ability to "donate" your status to the party of your choice, Twitter updates from the campaigns, not to mention all your friends, campaign commercials specifically made for YouTube, text messages to alert you to campaign stops in your area and to remind you to vote - although the old fashioned phone call and knock on the door has by no means gone away. And email. Lots of email. Some have complained about being spammed by their candidate, but I think it's the combined impact if you donate or support any combination of candidates and issues. I went back and double checked and it was usually 3, maybe 4 emails a day from any one. That's a lot, but I think it only feels spammy when you add it all up.
Everyone from the New York Times to NewTeeVee is telling you how you can follow the events of the day. There was streaming media in 2004, but not to the extent and thorough nature of today's online television election coverage. I'm not ready to break away from my TV, but like many, I'll probably have my TV on and my laptop open.
So....can I go home now?