HistoryofScience.com Blog

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

An Election Reported Interactively in Real Time

Those who have used the From Cave Paintings to the Internet Timeline understand my interest in the history of information and media, including the history of news media, leading to a few observations on what took place today:

Apart from the historic election of Barack Obama, the first African American President of the United States, from the standpoint of the history of information and media, one distinctive aspect of this election and the campaign that preceded it was the blending of its coverage by broadcast media and the rapidly evolving interactive media on the Internet. Television networks repeatedly referred viewers to their websites for interactive news stories and additional information. While we watched the election on television or radio we received information in emails, from websites, and from blogging and microblogging sites like Twitter. A few minutes after polls closed on the West coast and the election was decided by computer programs at news media, I received an email from the Obama campaign signed by Barack Obama. Online newspapers updated election results in real time. Perhaps most remarkably, even the Wikipedia article on the United States presidential election was updated in real time on the web as soon as election results were available. This I learned from reading a blog in The New York Times online--an online newspaper writing about an article in an online encyclopedia. From the standpoint of the history of media this represents a blurring or blending of the historic distinctions that evolved over centuries between news media, designed to publish or broadcast about the moment, and traditionally more static works of reference such as encyclopedias.

An email from [email protected], received 10-04-08 8:18PM PST, 18 minutes after the polls closed on the West coast. Presumably this email was sent to the millions of people who contributed to the Obama campaign:

"Jeremy --

I'm about to head to Grant Park to talk to everyone gathered there, but I wanted to write to you first.

We just made history.

And I don't want you to forget how we did it.

You made history every single day during this campaign -- every day you knocked on doors, made a donation, or talked to your family, friends, and neighbors about why you believe it's time for change.

I want to thank all of you who gave your time, talent, and passion to this campaign.

We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I'll be in touch soon about what comes next.

But I want to be very clear about one thing...

All of this happened because of you.

Thank you,


posted by Jeremy Norman @ 10:24 PM   7 Comments


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