Archive: Nov 2008

I’m sure you’ve already voted or you wouldn’t be reading this, so I won’t nudge you about that. Onward, then, to all things digital and how it’s changed presidential campaigns. On Sunday, the New York Times has an interesting piece by Daniel Carr and Brian Stelter, called “Campaigns in a Web 2.0 World,” that explores how the 2008 presidential campaign has blurred the lines between old (broadcast) media and new (Internet) media. The authors remind us just how much has changed in four years:

“Many of the media outlets influencing the 2008 election simply were not around in 2004. YouTube did not exist, and Facebook barely reached beyond the Ivy League. There was no Huffington Post to encourage citizen reporters, so Mr. Obama’s comment about voters clinging to guns or religion may have passed unnoticed. These sites and countless others have redefined how many Americans get their political news.”

The article goes on to note how Obama’s campaign has made savvy use of social networking sites, such as Facebook. Yet, this has not meant usurping the importance of traditional networks in breaking election news, here they site the Katie Couric interview with Sarah Palin.

I’ll be part of this blending of old and new media today, as I take photos of various polling places, share them through Flickr and Twitter, and then attend a party hosted by NPR tonight in Harlem, where lots of other people will be blogging and sharing election-day photos. What about you? How is Web 2.0 changing the way you relate to this campaign?

The study of religion is one of the founding preoccupations of sociology and there are lots of changes happening in the practice of religion because of the digital era.     For example, the Gothamist is reporting on the two Jewish entrepreneurs who developed software that can turn an average BlackBerry into a sacred prayer book.   They’ve dubbed their upgrade “The JewBerry,” and have sold it to over 10,000 customers for $30 a pop.   Personally, I think they might want to rethink the name of the application, but still this sort of development raises interesting questions about digital technology and the practice of religion.   With the assist of GPS technology, there’s also a kind of smart-mob feature as well as the software will soon enable Jews to create minyans—the 10-member groups necessary for prayer.  Of course, Pocket PCs and Palm and iPhone devices have had Christian and Hebrew texts on them for at least 5 years now (less time, of course, for the iPhones), but this is the first such software available for BlackBerry users.     For sociologists interested in the sociology of religion in the digital era, there are a couple of edited volumes – Morten T. Højsgaard and Margit Warburg’s Religion and Cyberspace (Routledge, 2005) and Lorne Dawson and Douglas Cowan’s Religion Online (Routledge, 2004) – but not much else.   And, as far as I know, there’s nothing yet out there on mobile technologies – such as smartphones – and the practice of religion (please drop a comment and correct me if I’m wrong about that).  This looks like another rich area for some sociologist to take on.