After reading the study by Hargittai/Shaw and the piece by Gueprguieva I found that they synthesized a number of arguments about the impact of internet use on campaigns. One argument that I developed after reading is that the internet is virtually limitless in what it can offer for candidates because of the development of new sites such as youtube or facebook which are user generated (for the most part) and allow for easy expansion.
One part of Gueprguiev’s piece that aligns with my argument is what youtube has been able to offer to candidates. Big budgets are no longer needed in advertising sectors of campaigns if these campaigns can learn to capitalize on cheap, or even free, online campaigning. By isolating youtube as a venue to show aspects of a candidate in an extremely tailored and planned way, campaigns are able to directly affect the people who they are aiming to influence. The limitless part of youtube is that it has gotten to the point where anyone with a video-camera enabled phone can post videos on the go without even having to sit at a computer. Candidates can publish as many videos as they possibly want and these videos can convey and message that they choose.
Hargittai and Shaw find in their study that involvement online has a correlation with actual political involvement in college students. How powerful is the internet if it can distract college students from difficult classloads and attempting to build social capital? The power comes from the fact that students can now gain political knowledge while simultaneously gaining social capital. It is “cool” to follow politicians on Twitter and update your facebook status about what a candidate said during a debate. College students no longer need to actively seek out political information because the internet brings it to their dorm room in a click. Social networking sites play a large part in how effective online campaigning can be, but what other types of sites could further online campaigning even more that haven’t even been invented yet? Howard Dean was able to collect donations online which created the illusion that he was highly supported. What kind of sites could be next?
My question this week for the class is do you personally trust online campaigning? Would you vote for a candidate solely based on what you read online as opposed to watching tv or attending an event?