The Election of Barack Obama is Reported Interactively in Real Time


Apart from the historic election of Barack Obama, the first African American President of the United States, from the standpoint of the history of information and media, one element of this election and the campaign that preceded it was the blending of its coverage by broadcast media and the rapidly evolving interactive media on the Internet. Television networks repeatedly referred viewers to their websites for interactive news stories and additional information. While we watched the election on television or listened to radio we received information in emails, from websites, and from blogging and microblogging sites like Twitter. Within minutes after the election was decided I received an email from the Obama campaign signed by Barack Obama. Online newspapers updated election results in real time. Perhaps most remarkably, even the Wikipedia article on the United States presidential election 2008 was updated in real time on the web as election results were available. This I learned from reading a blog in The New York Times online—an online newspaper blogging about an article in an online encyclopedia. From the standpoint of the history of media this represents a blurring or blending of the historic distinctions that evolved over centuries between news media writing about the moment, and traditionally more static works of reference such as encyclopedias.

An email from [email protected] received 11-04-08 8:18PM PST, 18 minutes after polls closed on the West coast and news media computers declared an Obama victory. Presumbably this email was sent to the millions of people who donated to Obama's campaign:

"Jeremy --

I'm about to head to Grant Park to talk to everyone gathered there, but I wanted to write to you first.
We just made history.
And I don't want you to forget how we did it.
You made history every single day during this campaign -- every day you knocked on doors, made a donation, or talked to your family, friends, and neighbors about why you believe it's time for change.
I want to thank all of you who gave your time, talent, and passion to this campaign.
We have a lot of work to do to get our country back on track, and I'll be in touch soon about what comes next.
But I want to be very clear about one thing...
All of this happened because of you.
Thank you,


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