President Obama is currently speaking to a televised audience of millions in his State of the Union address. I am watching. But an even larger audience awaits on the web. What used to be a strictly televised event has transformed into a digital one, a conversation developed through multiple mediums.
Ian Elsner (pictured above) no longer reaches for the remote during nationally televised events like these. For him, his two computer screens do the trick. With one screen fixed on Twitter (following the trending topic #SOTU) and the other live streaming the address on Huffingtonpost.com, Ian Elsner stays attuned with headphones plugged in…while maintaining dialogue with friends via text. His room is silent. No blaring television in the background.
Ian is the product of a truly digital generation. One that is not stricken to merely one screen, but many.
Say what you want about this digital revolution, but one thing is undeniable: it is connecting us. In the case of the State of the Union address, social media has connected the public to the White House. The White House embraced technology in the lead-up to the speech. Not surprising since President Obama owes much of his presidential victory to the power of social media. Since then, citizens have felt more involved in the political process via the Internet. Concerned Americans posted their questions via YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter. President Obama’s Facebook page shared a preview of his speech (posted on YouTube) and even released the full text days before. People read along as he delivered his words.
40 years ago- heck, even 10 years ago- this would have been unimaginable. The world stands at the cusp of a new era when anyone, regardless of age, income, or location, can question the people who are supposed to look out for their best interests. Of course, among the barrage of questions and comments, there’s bound to be a lot of white noise. After all, how in depth can anyone get in 140 characters?
That said, anything that gets people talking about what our elected officials are doing must be doing a good to society. All hail the digital revolution.