Tag Archives: 2012

Presidential Debates: The Social Medium is the Message

Presidential debates might be the single political event where Marshall McLuhan’s infamous phrase “the medium is the message” rings most true. Candidates know well that content takes the back seat, perhaps even stuffed in the trunk, during these hyper-performative news events. The video above of McLuhan on the Today show analyzing a Ford-Carter debate from 1976 is well worth a watch. The professor’s points still ring provocative this morning after the first Obama-Romney debate of 2012; a debate that treated the Twitter-prosumer as a television-consumer and thoroughly failed the social medium.  (more…)

Submit Your Abstract: Theorizing the Web 2012

The Cyborgology blog is again sponsoring this year’s Theorizing the Web conference. Here’s the info:

On Twitter: @TtW_Conf & #TtW12.

On Facebook: Community Page & Event Page.

Keynote:

“Social Media and Social Movements”

Andy Carvin (NPR; @acarvin) with Zeynep Tufekci (UNC; @techsoc)

Andy Carvin & Zeynep Tufekci

Deadline for Abstracts: February 5th

Registration Opens: February 1st

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Do We Need a New World’s Fair? (Part 1)

This is the first of a two-part series dedicated to answering the question “Do we need a new World’s Fair?” It is an honest question that I do not have an answer to. What I aim to do here is share my thoughts on the subject and present historical data on what these sorts of events have done in the past. In the first part, I explore what previous World Fairs have accomplished and what we must certainly avoid. The second part will investigate what a new 21st century fair might look like, and how it would help our economy. Part 2 is here.

electrical building

By Charles S. Graham (1852–1911). Printed by Winters Art Litho. Co. (Public domain c/o Wikipedia.)

A “World Fair” is first and foremost, a grand gesture. They are typically months if not a few years long. Think of them as temporary theme parks, or the the olympics of technological innovation. They are extravagant, optimistic, and brash. But let’s be clear here. All of the World Fairs held in Paris, Chicago, New York, and Seattle had sections that are deeply troubling. The 19th century fairs had human zoos and “freak shows.” The 20th century fairs were, in many ways, launchpads for the corporate take-over of the public realm and the plundering of the very cities that hosted them (more on that later). But that does not mean the form is totally useless or inherently bad. In fact, a new American World Fair might be just what we need. (more…)

Obama Tweet Authorship Signals Web 2.0 Campaign in 2012

Obama Texting

Credit: Charles Ommanney/Getty Images

On June 17th, an Obama 2012 campaign staffer made a post explaining that Obama’s Twitter and Facebook presence would be handled differently going forward.  As fellow Cyborgology editor Nathan Jurgenson recently discussed, Obama’s posts and updates have, up until now, been ghostwritten—leading Jurgenson to conclude that “Obama-as-president has thus far been a Web 1.0 leader” and, thus, to ask “when will we see a Web 2.0, social media president?”  Obama’s use of social media has been in sharp contrast to other nationally-recognized politicians, including former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, whose tweets appear to be individually-authored, spontaneous, and personal, making them appear more authentic and more consistent with the norms of other Twitter users (spelling errors and all).  The president is now getting into the game by authoring his own tweets.

The campaign update, titled, “A New Approach to Facebook and Twitter,”  states:

Obama for America staff will now be managing both accounts, posting daily updates from the campaign trail, from Washington, and everywhere in between. You’ll be hearing from President Obama regularly, too; on Twitter, tweets from the President will be signed “-BO.”

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Cyborgology Editors Talk 2012 Campaigns & Social Media

Cyborgology editors Nathan Jurgenson and PJ Rey were recently interviewed by Maryland Morning’s Sheilah Kast about how social media is being used in 2012 presidential campaigns and which candidates are likely to benefit most

Click here to listen to the whole interview.

Does Social Media Benefit Political Underdogs?

As the 2012 presidential race ever so slowly gains momentum it remains clear that social media will be influencing elections for a long time to come. In the long run, does the shift towards social media campaigning change who is perceived to be a legitimate candidate? If so, social media might change who wins elections and therefore changes how we are governed. Avoiding [for now] the issue of whether social media has inherent tendencies towards the left or right, what I want to ask is: opposed to old media, does new media benefit political underdogs and outsiders?

As Republicans announce presidential bids on Twitter and Obama gets friendly with Zuckerberg and Facebook, it seems that the presidential campaign has found itself augmented by and reliant upon social media tools; some of the very same tools many of us use, like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and so on. Part of their popularity is that one can view and be viewed by people from all over the world in an instant and for no cost. It does not cost money to publish this post or to tweet about it later on. Social media campaigning is also relatively cheap; indeed, often times free. Alternatively, print advertising is expensive because space is scarce and the scarcity of broadcast time makes television and radio too costly for underdogs and outsiders to fairly compete. However, when we exchange atoms for bits we enter into a world of abundance, a world where broadcasting a message quickly and globally becomes cheap and easy.

This cheaper social-media campaign style may remove or at least lesson (more…)

Who Will Be the First Facebook President?

The 2012 presidential race is beginning to take shape, and it is interesting to see how social media is being differently used by candidates. Obama kicked off his re-election campaign on YouTube and is at Facebook today with Zuckerberg to do a Facebook-style town-hall Q&A. Mitt Romney (R-MA) annouced his presidential bid on Twitter and Tim Pawlenty (R-MN) announced on Facebook and even created a Foursquare-style gaming layer where supporters earn points for participating in his campaign. I’ll be analyzing how social media is used throughout the 2012 cycle, but I’d like to start all of this with the question: who will be our first social media president?

FDR became the radio president with his famous “fireside chats” and JFK the television president with his image-centered debates with Nixon. Many consider Obama the first social media president due to his massive fund raising and organizing efforts during the 2008 campaign using the web (though, Howard Dean was there four years earlier – remember his use of meetup.org). However, now that Obama has been in office for more than two years, has he really used the social web effectively in interesting new ways? The New York Times states that Obama treats the Internet like a “television without knobs,” using it primarily to simply upload videos for us to consume. Obama-as-president has thus far been a Web 1.0 leader instead of embracing the Web 2.0 ethic of users collaboratively and socially creating content.

To put it another way, go to Obama’s Twitter account and ask yourself if he is really using the medium in an effective way? It is clearly (more…)