This Tuesday, November 2, 2010, US voters will be going to the polls to vote in the midterm elections. Thus, it’s timely to consider how social media has transformed politics in America. By social media, I mean “the use of web-based technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogues.” (Wikepedia)
At Blogworld 2010, held in Las Vegas from October 14-16, two eminent political operatives conversed (see photo) about these topics: Karen Hughes, a close adviser to George Bush, and Mark Penn, a key adviser to Bill Clinton. Despite their ideological differences, both consultants agreed on one thing: web-based technologies have transformed the political landscape.
According to Penn, Bill Clinton was the first President to use email; however, he discontinued its use after having sent only one message. To demonstrate the changing technological environment, Hughes described how no one had a Blackberry when Bush first took office. But by the end of his administration in 2008, everyone had a blackberry—or the equivalent. Not only does Obama have a blackberry, but he also uses Twitter to communicate with his followers.
Hughes indicated that in 2001, she focused strictly on the traditional media in order to get the President’s message out. Thus, all that she had to do was pay attention to “the reporters and editors,” a circumscribed group of people. However, Hughes stated that the people in the “audience [bloggers like myself], have replaced the news desk.” For example, in the past, the President could deliver a speech that would be below the radar, because it was delivered in a remote location. Now, that same speech could be picked up by a blogger and spread throughout the world. Along these lines, it is telling to note that just this past week, President Obama invited 5 bloggers to the White House to interview him. Apparently, Obama felt that one of the best ways to reach his base was through the blogosphere.
Social media is reshaping the way we interact, whether it be used in the business or political realms. The new rules involve the use of web-based platforms—such as Twitter, the Blogosphere, and Facebook—that connect politicians and their constituencies as well as businesses and their customers. What we are witnessing is a communication revolution similar to what the Gutenberg press unleashed 600 years ago.
Do you agree that web-based, social media represents a revolution? How has social media transformed the way that you work? Are you using these technologies to connect with workers, clients and customers?