the past week has been interesting, but a little difficult to sum up. this is one of those there’s no coherence to the situations, but things feel related – lots of small, one-off moments that are more potent than they appear.
most content wins
discussions with some people about primaries, caucuses and (especially) exit polls reveal that some people form their ideologies based on suspicions or heresay, rather than experience or hope. One person told me that because their aging aunt (I forget where from) voted for Clinton recently in a primary, that all “old people” (a demographic I didn’t know existed) invariably lean towards Clinton – this was a counter-argument to my thesis that ‘the most content wins‘, where I am arguing that whoever develops the most online content (which spills over into the real world, of course) will win the Democratic nomination, and eventually the Presidency. They suggest that older people do not engage the internet, but rather television (not even newspapers), and so will not be swayed by content developed online; and that young voters do not account for a large voter base needed to gain victories. This, of course, was before Barack swept – and I mean fucking SWEPT – Clinton, winning the last eight competitions! And in doing so provided evidence to disprove their theory: Obama wins among older voters in Maryland, Virginia. Their thesis is also racially biased: their aunt is Caucasian, and so they believe all older voters from all races are in the same boat as them. Meanwhile exit poll data in Georgia and Missouri showed African-Americans over 40 casting landslide victories – over 80% – in favor of Obama. Other states may be of smaller margins, but no where did Clinton win such landslide numbers among white voters.
But my initial argument was that content developed online will be responsible for building momentum and eventually a win. It isn’t as if voters simply sit around twiddling their thumbs waiting for their day to vote and then simply shuffle off to the polling station and drop a slip into a box. The democratic process is about debate, discussion, and emotion. I’ve seen people at polling stations (or online in blog comments) arguing over policies, laws enacted, and reforms – while admitting they’re not sure who to vote for, it’s all about feeling!
and young people are responsible for galvanizing other voter demographics, by spearheading meetings, marches, rallies, sign-making parties, events, etc., assisted by technologies, which eventually encourages “old people” and others to vote for whoever they then believe in, and a lot of people are saying, Yes We Can.
web 2.0 concerns
another argument reflecting on elements of web 2.0 life, was I had someone recently suggest that I should email them images, images which are already freely available on my Flickr account. Additionally, as I am not a Press Secretary, I couldn’t possibly know exactly which images they are interested in. One point of Flickr is that it is remote and accessible by all browsers, there is no password, so people are freely able to search my content and find what they want. Of course I appreciate to know when people are using my images, but I haven’t turned down a request to date.
Two weeks ago, this person told me that their time was too valuable to “troll through” all of my images, and that rather I should spend my time to send them what they want. Again, I couldn’t possibly know what they want, and by no means am I going to send even a single 5 megabyte jpeg through email, let alone gigabytes worth of images, some from events that took place over 12 months ago!
Then this past week they requested that I point them in the direction of a specific photo they want, for their own purposes. Their time is too valuable, but mine is at their dispense?
I guess the point here is I’m interested in how web 2.0 philosophies expose bureaucratic tendencies: I am by no means obligated to process even 1 jpeg for the benefit of a non-profit which I volunteer for; the person who cuts a monthly check nearly equivalent to my rent is obligated. I have already done the work – free of charge – by taking the photo, uploading it, tagging it, bunching them into sets and collections, etc. What more could they ask for, really!?
then recently I had my stable job of two and half years presented on a platter and told to think about it. the argument here is that I am currently employed part-time (a year ago I was full-time) and my employer “found out” (for lack of a better term) that I work odd freelance jobs on the side to gain some extra income. By no means are my freelance jobs stable, or enough to subsist on. I was told that the terms of our agreement should have provided me with enough to “survive on”. To survive. Yes, to pay rent, transport and food, nothing more. I may not work the other 4 days a week, but pick up jobs which net me some extra money to buy supplies, materials, a pair of socks, carry a cellphone, things above and beyond survival which I believe I need “to survive” in this hyper-consumerist society.
It appalled me to think that someone thinks because we agreed to work together, part-time on my clock, that that means I can’t find financial assistance elsewhere. As if they have that right, legally or ethically!
year of the rat
all of the above makes sense, of course. it’s Year of the Rat. changes are ahead. I saw a spokesman for the Chinese government talking on CNN (I think) about how the rat signifies buildings falling down & crop failure, but that it would also be a glorious year with Beijing hosting the 2008 summer games! That kind of weirded me out.
Hi Nick. It’s David. Your housemate. Although my argument (re: “most content wins” and “old people”) was (I admit) a bit stupid (in parts), I kind of want to correct some errors you made above (if you are in fact referring to the converation we had in the kitchen the other morning). Although I can’t recall the conversation verbatim, I know that I never said anything about my aging aunt, or any relative, voting for Clinton, and certainly never said that this would invariably indicate that all old people lean towards Clinton. (What I did say was that my grandma doesn’t use the internet.) What I did say was that the “most content wins” theory is flawed because there are a substantial number of voters (specifically, old people, retired people, wrinkly bob barker loving people) who don’t use the internet, and whose bumper stickers have yet to become jpegs mpegs whatever. If you look at the demographics provided in this link
you’ll see that there is evidence to support that idea. And although Obama has been sweeping all the recent primaries (which is great) it has been a neck-and-neck race until these past few contests. And although I don’t know exactly how the math in the “most content wins” theory plays itself out (i.e. whether 1 bazillion friends on facebook means 1 bazillion votes, or if the flickr/facebook/voter ratio is a bit more tricky than that) it does seem that a significant gap in online content would be mirrored by a significant gap in the polls. But until recently, it’s been a close race at the polls. Only in these past few weeks has Obama begun to pull ahead. According to your theory, it seems as if Obama should have solidified his lead long ago. But that’s not the case.
As a 2002 US Census Bureau states:
“The characteristics of people who
are most likely to go to the polls
are a reflection of both the
racial/ethnic composition of the citi-
zen population and the attributes of
people with the biggest stakes in
society: *older individuals*, home-
owners, married couples, and peo-
ple with more schooling, higher
incomes, and good jobs….
Although Obama won among older voters in maryland it was, according to CNN (your source)
“a striking reversal from the trend in nearly every state to date — in an average of exit polls on Super Tuesday, Clinton beat Obama among voters 60 and older by roughly 30 points.”
i never said he should have won a long time ago. ‘most content wins’ proclaims the inevitable outcome, not a real-time scenario. i’m saying its an eventual result. the same premise will apply to the general election.
the one thing NONE of these arguments take into account is voter registration. Young people are usually not registered with the Democratic party, and only in a handful of states are Independents allowed to vote in the democratic primaries. LIKE MYSELF. registered in NY state but unable to vote on Super Tuesday, because I am an Independent. so the ‘significant gap’ that you mention forgets this important variable, I reckon. i.e. how many of the many people we live with are actually registered with the Democratic party vs how many of those same people WILL vote on Nov 2?
before Bob Barker retired last year, did you SEE his audience members? they were 20-40 somethings who adored the aura and myth of the man! not retired 60s with nothing better to do than go to the television studio!
as for that 2002 census bureau, that was before we had invaded Iraq. I believe young people have been galvanized by that event, this war, and KNOW for a FACT that we have more at stake than ever before in our future, even at such a young age. the media is partially to thank for this, but the internet and blogs (Baghdad Blogger, Alive in Baghdad, etc) are particularly responsible for bringing awareness of events from the war to our doorstep, and young people are easily more aware that if we put bad people in power, we get bad results. It isn’t simply about higher incomes and home-owners anymore, people are ‘more human’ than ever before – you’ve just enlightened me to my next thesis!