Kimberlie Davis, a senior at McKinleyville High School, won the Redwood Technology Consortium’s Don Wolski Memorial Scholarship for this essay. She will receive her $1,500 award tonight (May 8, 5:30 p.m.) at the consortium's meeting at the Humboldt Area Foundation. She plans to attend Humboldt State University.
Changing Technology and the Election
YouTube. MySpace. Facebook. Internet fundraising. What do these all have in common? These four technologies have had a huge effect on the 2008 presidential election, and will continue to have an effect on future elections. From giving the people a voice to making it easier for people to contribute, these technologies have allowed the American people to be directly involved in the political process.
For the first time, in the 2008 presidential election, YouTube was used for the presidential debates. Americans of all ages recorded videos of themselves asking a question, and if chosen, the video would then be played at the debates and the presidential candidates would answer the question.
Jeff Jarvis on PrezVid.com stated that "The YouTube debates could fundamentally change the dynamics of politics in America, giving a voice to the people, letting us be heard by the powerful and the public, enabling us to coalesce around our interests and needs, and even teaching reporters who are supposed to ask questions in our stead how they should really do it."
As Jarvis stated, the YouTube debates changed the political process. YouTube allowed the American people to be heard, the questions the people wanted asked were answered, and the people decided what issues were important. The reporters were no longer the ones deciding what issues were important or what questions should be asked, the people were. In 2008, YouTube gave the American people a voice.
Like YouTube, blogs have given the American people a voice. Thousands of blogs all over the Internet share the American people’s opinion of each candidate. Sometimes supporting, other times putting down a candidate, the American people read these blogs and start shaping their own opinions of each candidate. Blogs have also provided a new way for people to get information on the issues in the campaign. As the people read the blogs, they are reading other’s opinion on the issues, and use the information they read to shape their own opinions on the issues.
In the past few years, social networking websites like MySpace and Facebook have become increasingly popular. Micah Sifry, in an interview with Popsci.com, stated that people with a Myspace or a Facebook page "…can demand that their candidates come to their town using Eventful, an online events planner. Or they can take a video camera out and capture a candidate in some real-live human interaction that sheds more light on whether that candidate is fit to be president."
The Presidential candidates each have their own MySpace and Facebook pages, and thousands of voters can add their favorite candidate as a friend and post videos and information on the candidates on their own pages. The candidates can advertise themselves on their MySpace and Facebook pages, reaching the younger generation.
In the 2008 presidential election, the Internet has been a huge source of fundraising for the candidates. As the election day draws near, the candidates need more money for advertising and other expenses. Thousands have donated to their favorite candidate over the Internet. Candidates have started using websites to give the voters information on their views, allow voters to check campaign schedules, download podcasts, and donate money. The Internet has only been around for a few years and is only starting to be used as a tool in elections but will continue to be used in future elections.
All of these new technologies have given the Presidential candidates a new playing field and a new way to reach people. They no longer are just seen speaking or shaking a few hands on TV, or heard speaking over the radio. The American people no longer have to go through reporters to get information on the candidates, but can go straight to them. Whether it is adding them as a friend on a social network or personally asking them a question through YouTube, these new technologies have changed America’s political process by giving the American people more access to the information they want and more of a voice in the election.