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Twitter, Facebook, and Fox News, Oh My. (or, how I was seduced by the internet on election night)

Taking in the presidential election results on Tuesday happened in different places in various ways.  Beginning at 4pm at work we tuned the TV to CNN.  NPR was on the radio. and I had npr.org and the NY Times both open on my computer.

Later on I went home to twitter the unfolding results for KCRW, the Santa Monica-based radio station where I work.  I felt particularly anxious – preferring to avoid the parties and mayhem on the streets of LA to enjoy and reflect upon on the outcome at home. But I didn’t feel alone, and I wasn’t.

I twittered as the results came in and people responded with comments like “Ooh. I like this show. One of my faves. Thanks.” and “Spanky, Spanky, Spanky, Ms Dole. Naughty campaign.”  Twitter allowed for real-time conversation fostered among strangers and among friends.  On Facebook, friends’ status messages lit up with their reactions and observations. My cell phone rang with calls from friends and family from Ohio and Los Angeles. It bleeped with incoming text messages from Paris, Boston, San Fran, and  Columbus, OH. I excitedly chatted with friends on IM.

CNN’s live video feed was broadcasting in one window and Twitter’s election page was running in another. The NYTimes election module, San Fran Chronicle, and Current TV’s election coverage were open in other tabs. NPR was blasting through the apartment (and a few of my neighbors). When the final results were announced, people were dancing, shouting and hollering with joy in the streets on the sleepy block in the beach town of Santa Monica where I live.

I think back to how this relates to the last election.  Sites like Twitter, FB, and Current TV were still babies – if they had even been born yet. The technology required to build nimble news modules was not nearly as evolved.

The ability to communicate with others with lightning speed and accuracy was nothing like it is now. The very way we communicate with one another has totally evolved. As Seth Godin recently said, “The transformation of communication is real, it’s permanent and it’s more powerful than most of us notice”.

The last administration was a secretive club that could easily manipulate voters perceptions.  We’re entering a new era where we’re constantly being informed and always plugged-in, whether we like it or not.

The internet has finally become a forum for public discourse. I can quickly and easily express who I am voting for and why. I’m not going to try to convince you to do anything – just give you reasons why I think the way I do. And because we think in a similar way, maybe you’ll be open to what I say compared to, oh I don’t know, Fox News. When election time rolls around, being from Ohio becomes especially important to me. I grew up knowing lots of people (including myself at one point) who can be easily swayed by what they hear in their sheltered communities at church or around the dinner table. It’s a self-perpetuating  mechanism with no incoming feed from the outside world.

Not anymore.

Hacking the debate

Tonight I watched the second presidential debate at Current TV’s Hack the Debate, a video mashup of a live video feed combined with a text overlay of comments (aka Tweets) submitted by Twitter users. I also had Twitter’s election page running in a separate window.

While it wasn’t apparent that all Tweets submitted to Hack the Debate would appear – it would be almost impossible given the amount submitted – It was amazing how quickly Twitter picked up and posted my notes. Watching the backchannel happen in real-time was mesmerizing. The comments were thought-provoking, random, and often downright hilarious (“my friends, has anyone seen my green sweater?”).

Election coverage at Twitter

Current TV