The Invisible Social Revolution

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With just the weekend between now and the start of the major party conventions, the amazing thing about the New Media is just how little it has impacted so far on the story. No major leaks about the vice presidential nominations, no blogger unmaskings of damaging revelations about the candidates at the top of the ticket, no shaky video of loose talk or surrogates jockeying for position.

Is is possible that the campaigns have learned how to contain the new viral media, or is something else going on? With Twitter, Qik, FriendFeed, and other social media platforms now in place and largely battle-tested for the coming storm of pre-baked circuses, why is the news so tightly controlled by the traditional networks?

Perhaps the nature of the underlying story of this election undercuts the technology equation. With a disruptive candidate like Barack Obama, people are looking to the media for less, rather than more drama. The shiny object fascination with radical technology change has given way to a more pragmatic mood, where iPhones have become commonplace and the rapid spread of information throughout the day and on the move has let the mainstream media play more to its traditional strengths as not just aggregators but synthesists of the news.

Real time bursts of information over Twitter and IM have changed how we react to events; the edge professionals have with insider notification is being smoothed out and delivered as a service to consumers via intermediaries who give away the data for the ongoing relationship. We use Facebook and other social hubs as early warning systems, insurance against being out of the loop when breaking information makes a difference in how you do your job or finding one.

Ironically, the very ubiquity of cameras, recorders, texting, and the rest of the *Phone tools has made it both mandatory and easier to keep things secret. Just today, a story broke ruling Sam Nunn out as a potential Obama running mate because he’s been spotted overseas with an itinerary that makes it unlikely he would be available for Saturday’s presumed announcement in the Midwest. Not only can Nunn be tracked easily for the next few days, but the same goes for all of the short listers, which means that keeping any information closely held to the last minute and releasing it simultaneously to the media via IM and email insures security.

The flattening of the information hierarchy has implications for the technology industry that go well beyond its marketing in the media. Social media platforms are competing for key roles in the new government, as evidenced by Google’s and Microsoft’s deals with each party for convention IT. Once the parties are over and the campaign bears down on November, the infrastructures put in place over the next two weeks will be used to coordinate the state organizations and feed back into the electoral college command centers where the election will be decided.

The result will look familiar on the surface, with the traditional swing states and voter groups oscillating as Election Day approaches. But what will be profoundly different is that this election and the events leading up to it will be the most recorded in history. Like a gigantic EKG, the clicks and packets that emanate out of each campaign will be gathered, mapped, and played back in close to real time, then analyzed and revised to look for fluctuations in the right or wrong direction.

Here is where the difference between search and track will prove pivotal. Search produces analysis after the fact, while track produces interactions that change the events themselves. As social hubs perform for the “cameras” over the next weeks, the efficiencies of those with real time synergies will likely outperform more historical views of the resulting data. Those micro-communities more adept at conversational politics will do better faster, and may in fact tip the election in much the same way Obama’s teams tipped the nomination process via the caucuses.

And in December, the playback of this data will prove decisive in who gets the jobs in the next administration, both in Washington and across the new Congress. While we may not see the obvious signature of the social media revolution in scoops and headlines, it will be hard to miss in the rear view mirror.

  • Eck

    I still can’t see what any of this has to do with enterprise IT, but at least this was interesting!

  • gregorylent

    change goes from the bottom up, it does not matter who is elected, americans mostly don’t want change… hence, more chaos is necessary

    bloggers, media, less important than ever

  • http://blog.stealthmode.com francine hardaway

    I’m afraid I agree with GregoryLent above. I have been blogging my butt off about what’s wong with the country, and talking about how McCain has screwed Arizona for the past 25 years and how all the prominent AZ Republicans who are not the far right hate him as loud as I can, but it falls into a black hole.

  • PXLated

    Agree with Gregory and Francine, most of my friends/family/etc (outside of the diehard left/right) aren’t comfortable with change and aren’t paying much attention. Maybe that will change a little closer to Nov. but it’s a world of disinterest right now.

  • http://politics.drumsnwhistles.com Karoli

    My family and friends aren’t paying attention to much either. But they do pay attention to what I say, and what I say is shaped from conversations I’m having in real time out of real events. My influence in those arenas is part of the bigger picture, vis a vis politics.

    I don’t have to have my family and friends on identi.ca or Tw&tter for it to influence them. It does, by virtue of what I take away.

  • http://wyman.us Bob Wyman

    Search is for research. Track is for monitoring. You learn from search, you react to track.
    Search is “retrospective” in that it takes a current concern (the query) and applies it to documents discovered and indexed in the past. Track is “prospective” in that it looks to the future — it applies a query against new documents as they are discovered in the future.
    Retrospective Search and Prospective Search are the two sides of a single problem: Discovery.

    bob wyman

  • Basil

    @eck I’ve been wondering that myself :) There’s plenty of interesting stuff happening right now in the enterprise IT space, and all I read about here is the old social media stories and opinions I can get on Techcrunch…

  • Bruce Lerner

    Enlightenment without obfuscation. WTG Steve. (Although I prefer an obscure reference sprinkled in to keep me on my toes – I mean if we don’t keep the world spinning, won’t someone fall off?).

  • http://www.techcrunch.com/2008/08/23/the-role-of-social-media-in-covering-the-political-campaigns/ The Role Of Social Media In Covering The Political Campaigns

    […] Read the rest of this entry at TechCrunchIT […]

  • http://dalelarson.com Dale Larson

    I blogged previously about the promise that Obama would announce his VP candidate via SMS and email. But last night CNN broke story first on leaked information. Then Obama sent txt announcing Biden. Mine came at 1am/4ET!

    The only legit reason to txt at that hour involves a booty call…

    They announced on Twitter even later.

    If all you are going to use SMS and Twitter for is broadcasting, at least be polite about when you do it. Better yet, get an @reply in your tweetstream once in a while, or mention feedback you read in a text message when you’re responding to a question. Once you start actually having a conversation with me, maybe I’ll feel like you’ve earned the right to hit me up for a booty call.

  • http://www.aboutcreation.nl/2008/08/23/the-role-of-social-media-in-covering-the-political-campaigns/ The Role Of Social Media In Covering The Political Campaigns | aboutCREATION

    […] Read the rest of this entry at TechCrunchIT […]

  • http://www.aboutict.nl/2008/08/23/the-role-of-social-media-in-covering-the-political-campaigns/ The Role Of Social Media In Covering The Political Campaigns | about ICT

    […] Read the rest of this entry at TechCrunchIT […]

  • http://www.aleyram.com/forum/the-role-of-social-media-in-covering-the-political-campaigns.html The Role Of Social Media In Covering The Political Campaigns | SesliChat Sesli Sohbet

    […] Read the rest of this entry at TechCrunchIT […]

  • http://dncafterdark.wordpress.com/2008/08/23/random-thoughts-and-411-on-the-dnc/ Random thoughts and 411 on the DNC. « DNC AFTER DARK - Denver, CO

    […] OK, so what I did find really interesting was the social media bend.  And of course that caught my eye, as that is a big part of what I do everyday.  The convention being covered not only by local news and world news, but minute by minute through blogger’s, tweeter’s, and texter’s.  Do you think the local paper will eventually turn into one big tweet, in lots of 140 character segments?  I hope not actually, there is still something I love about reading the paper, sorting through all the articles I want to read, turning the pages, critiquing the writing style, etc…I just don’t think you get all that electronically when you are looking for the “whole story experience..”  However, I absolutely love Twitter and the like, and I think it is very cool to pop out a thought, a tiny url, a twitpic -and I love that during the week when I don’t have th luxury of turning the pages of the paper that the convention for me will be depicted in quick, to the point, tweets.  There is a great article I just read this morning about New Media and the effects it is having on how news is disseminated, whether government will be attuned to New Media and how the general public will accept New Media.  Check it out here. […]

  • JoeP

    QUOTE: “…the amazing thing about the New Media is just how little it has impacted so far on the story. No major leaks about the vice presidential nominations, no blogger unmaskings of damaging revelations about the candidates at the top of the ticket…”

    John Edwards may have been some distance from the top of the ticket, but he certainly had been a contender. New media raised the profile of his story, which ultimately meant that he wasn’t on the ticket, at the convention, or in an Obama administration.

  • http://www.drumsnwhistles.com/2008/08/23/intersections-twitter-track-and-cnn/ odd time signatures » Blog Archive » Intersections: Twitter, Track, and CNN

    […] in real time, unedited. (At least, in as real time as Tw*tter can be, given that they’ve disabled track and hobbled conversations. Hence, the use of the asterisk in their […]

  • http://easyonlineshopping.eu/?p=276 The Role Of Social Media In Covering The Political Campaigns – Easy Domain shopping

    […] Read the rest of this entry at TechCrunchIT […]

  • http://blog.christianebuddy.com/the-role-of-social-media-in-covering-the-political-campaigns/ The Role Of Social Media In Covering The Political Campaigns | Christian eBuddy Blog

    […] Read the rest of this entry at TechCrunchIT […]

  • http://blog.echovar.com/?p=499 echovar » Blog Archive » These Are No Ordinary Times: Time Becomes Real

    […] As we deepen the questions about the real time web, we uncover the startling fact that underneath all the layers of technology and specialized lingo, we find only ourselves. Human beings, mortals, gathering together to share our joys and sorrows, our dreams and aspirations, our humanity. As we pound out, hammer and tongs, the basic shape of our experience through the real time Network, we would do well to heed the words of that guy who said, “what if all this stuff really matters?” […]

  • http://dissonanciacognitiva.wordpress.com/2008/08/25/leitura-recomendada-25-agosto-08/ Links do Dia: 25.08.08 « Dissonância Cognitiva

    […] The Invisible Social Revolution – TechCrunchIT With just the weekend between now and the start of the major party conventions, the amazing thing about the New Media is just how little it has impacted so far on the story. No major leaks about the vice presidential nominations, no blogger unmaskings of damaging revelations about the candidates at the top of the ticket, no shaky video of loose talk or surrogates jockeying for position. […]

  • http://politics.drumsnwhistles.com Karoli

    Following through on Steve’s analysis that track changes conversations, if anyone was following my conversation with Rick Sanchez on CNN Saturday evening, then you saw me engage him in real time, challenge his use of Twitter and receive an on-air response to my criticism. In real time.

    Last night when he once again tried his experiment he was clearly making a hard effort to participate and give attention to the conversation with Tw*tter followers.

    That’s what Steve meant. One community, one member of a microcommunity, reaching over the boundary and changing the conversation. In real time.

  • Rob Holloway

    Steve, if we looked into the rear view mirror of your predictions from Microsoft to Hilary, your wrong most of the time. But the ever flowing stream of posts hides that fact. But you’re entertaining man!

  • http://ordaso.com/the-role-of-social-media-in-covering-the-political-campaigns/ The Role Of Social Media In Covering The Political Campaigns | Semantic Web

    […] Read the rest of this entry at TechCrunchIT […]

  • http://www.samharrelson.com/2008/08/28/real-time/ Real Time - Sam Harrelson

    […] Here’s a though provoking piece from Echovar: As we deepen the questions about the real time web, we uncover the startling fact that underneath all the layers of technology and specialized lingo, we find only ourselves. Human beings, mortals, gathering together to share our joys and sorrows, our dreams and aspirations, our humanity. As we pound out, hammer and tongs, the basic shape of our experience through the real time Network, we would do well to heed the words of that guy who said, “what if all this stuff really matters?” […]

  • http://www.smallbizpod.co.uk/blog/2008/09/01/twitter-track-and-the-business-of-the-real-time-web/ Twitter, track and the business of the real time web | SmallBizPod - small business blog

    […] you to search events as they happen on Twitter in real time, not after the event. As Steve said on Techcrunch IT recently: Search produces analysis after the fact, while track produces interactions that change […]

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