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Digital Natives: civic engagement + US presidential election via camphone

For the Thanksgiving holiday in the US this week, many of us are traveling to visit friends and family or are preparing to receive guests. The Digital Natives blog, too, hosted some friends this week.

Tyler Goulet at the University of Washington in Seattle asks Can the Internet Save the World? and tells us about his work at the Center for Communication and Civic Engagement:

The wonders of the World Wide Web have been talked about for years now. The internet has evolved from a media similar to T.V. (one way interaction) to a media where content producers can interact instantly with the audience. This type of interaction has never been made so easy. In fact, the instant interaction between people hundreds of miles away is making social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook explode in popularity. Anyone who uses the internet can see the benefits of joining social networking sites. The question must be asked. Can social networking sites be used to leverage political power?

CONTINUED...

And Gaby David from the the École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris bases an analysis of the US presidential election on camphone-video broadcasts, reflecting on the sharing of and in televisual images:

Barack Obama’s presidential victory is captivating. Not only because of his personal charm, but also because of the force of hope he inspires. Being the first black president will definitely place him and his family in a special and touching place in history.
[...]
Let’s take a look at the two photographs. The first photo is from the Nov 1960 elections, when JFK was elected president. In the second one we see the democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama and his family, on election night in Chicago, on November 4, 2008 (David Katz/Obama for America). Between the photos there are 48 years, the distance between president #35 and president #44. Differences are evident: black and white versus color film, family presence, the absence of children from one and the centrality of children to the other; the light of day versus the light of lamps.

However, in both photographs we imagine the out-of-frame object: the television!  CONTINUED...

For more on these and related themes, check out chapter 12 of John Palfrey and Urs Gasser's Born Digital, and join the conversation with the Digital Natives team and others via the Digital Natives site, where you'll find links to the project wiki, blog, YouTube channel, and many other social tools and resources like the Born Digital responses page.

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