Posted by: paulfbove | June 22, 2008

Online Voter-Generated Content

The progression of online media and social networking has done wonders to increase the amount of voter-generated content that political supporters create. Whereas years ago, the most voter-generated content you would see was likely in the form of bumper stickers, buttons, and t-shirts, the Internet now provides a new avenue that anybody can use to add anything they want for the whole world to see. So let’s explore what is out there.

1) Videos–what better way to show your support of a candidate, or better yet, spoof the candidate than video! Most people have heard of Obama Girl, and now the same folks who brought you that video have introduced The Incredible McCain Girl. This video, a spoof on The Incredible Hulk shows news pundits talking about McCain’s anger issues and then shows The Incredible McCain Girl getting angry, a la Hulk, when people make fun of him. It also has a nice fight scene with Obama Girl. So what’s it mean? The Barely Political folks are fond of picking on both parties, and this one gives it pretty good to the Republicans.

2) Facebook–Last week, Obama’s Facebook profile reached 1 million supporters. I did a quick search on Facebook to see what other groups are present–there are hundreds and hundreds of various Obama groups. For all the pages that support Obama, there are also many that are anti-Obama, including this gem. What I found interesting is that the site admin is listed as being in Nicaragua, but the contact lists Washington, DC. And under “news”, I learned these two tidbits: “1) Barack and wife Michelle make in the $500,000s each year. To be true Democrats, they should donate all but 40,000 of it to the poor in order to provide for their living wage, 2) Barack is an admitted cocaine user.” What does it mean? Though it’s great that anybody can use digital media to share their message, anybody can share their message. Including the rabble rousers.

3) Shirts, buttons, and stickers–for those who like to show their political support or disdain the old-fashioned way, there are numerous sites that allow you to design a shirt, sticker, magnet, etc., and get it made, and also sell it to others. Zazzle is a site with millions of options for the consummate political junky. After checking out pages and pages of political merchandise, I kept coming back to this little number. For those too lazy to click the link, the magnet says “WANTED” and shows pictures of Obama, Clinton, and McCain and under them says, “Bros,” “Hoes,” and “GI Joes,” respectively. What does it mean? Many items on the Zazzle site play on the fact that 1) Obama is black, 2) Clinton is a woman, and 3) McCain is old, and was a soldier. This makes for interesting, and sometimes amusing, creations. This site exemplifies Long Tail economics.

4) Radio–Early campaigning progressed via radio. Now radio content can be created by anybody and sent out as Podcasts and other digital files. I scoped out Digital Politics, which was linked from ePolitics. The shows are pretty informative and really cover the whole realm of the convergance between politics and digital media. The Website states

We peel back the layers to reveal how the Internet is changing the way candidates run for office, promote ballot initivatives, and mobilize voters. Join the party at Digital Politics.

This site provides the basics, and the advanced details, of how the politics have really gone digital. At its heart, voter-generated content is hand and hand with the digital convergance of politics. No matter what your affiliation, your likes, your dislikes, there is something out there for you. And if there isn’t, well then, dammit, create your own content!

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