Relevance of web 2.0 for the United States presidential election in 2008

Pre-University Paper, 2010

23 Pages, Grade: 1


Table of Contents

1 Preface

2 Introduction

3 What is web 2.0
3.1 Four “key characteristics of web 2.0”
3.1.1 Presence
3.1.2 Modification
3.1.3 User-generated content
3.1.4 Social participation
3.2 Certain examples of web 2.0
3.2.1 Twitter
3.2.2 YouTube
3.2.3 Facebook

4 The System of presidential election
4.1 The two major parties
4.1.1 The Republican Party
4.1.2 The Democratic Party
4.2 Results in 2008

5 Strategy of a campaign
5.1 “Top-down” approach
5.2 “Bottom-up” approach
5.3 Combined approach

6 Role of the voter
6.1 Collecting donations

7 Case study of 2008
7.1 Barack H. Obama
7.2 John S. McCain

8 Evaluation of the Relevance for politics today and in the future

9 Bibliography

1 Preface

The United States presidential election in 2008 was rather interesting for me. Especially the new possibilities of the web that constantly evolves seemed to be an important aspect of the campaigns.

The “Relevance of web 2.0 for the United States presidential election in 2008” was an interesting topic because of my interests in politics and in the web 2.0 as part of the internet.

2 Introduction

The relevance of modern web 2.0 for the United States presidential election was often emphasized. Especially Twitter and YouTube seemed to have huge influence on the election campaigns but how did they get used during the campaigns? How did this new era of web influence the voters’ choice?

The web obviously played an important role and was used to get the people involved. It helped to create an attachment to the political candidates and it was although a great technology for collecting donations. Especially Barack Obama used the web sent for his propose and had great success with this strategy.

This scientific work will explain in which way the web got influence on the campaigns and their strategies. It will also explain the role of the voters, which is in general not as great as it often seems to be. In the end of my work there will also be a case study of 2008 that focuses Barack Obama and his campaign, which was rather more interesting than the Republicans’.

3 What is web 2.0

In the time when the web came up it has not been as it is today. Its only function was “storing and accessing information1 similar to “an enormous encyclopedia2 with unreliable information, because everyone who had a server was able to publish whatever he wanted to. This period can be described with the term web 1.0 which means that the contents were more static instead of dynamic3 as it is usual today. The development from web 1.0 to web 2.0 was around the year 2005 but cannot be located to a specific date. In this year Tim O’Reilly created the term “web 2.04, which describes a significant change in the way how the web is used and how its applications work5. The definition of web 2.0 is inaccurate and can better be remarked to certain websites rather than to a timeframe.

3.1 Four “key characteristics of web 2.0”

The book “web 2.0 for schools” by Julia Davies and Guy Merchant defines the web 2.0 by four “key characteristics of web 2.0”. A single website of web 2.0 does not have to show all of these aspects7.6

3.1.1 Presence

Users of a website have the possibility to create and regularly update an online identity to present themselves on the web. This is often realized through a profile that can be public or just viewable for other participants of the same website. A great example for this is Facebook8.

Many famous and important people use this opportunity and so in case of the political candidates it is also an important aspect for the United States presidential election.

3.1.2 Modification

Personalization of a web-interface is a feature offered by many modern websites. This is one type of modification that just affects the experience of a single user. The other way of modifying a website is to connect it to another application which can be for example another website or other devices such as mobile phones. In this way it is possible to share the content created on one website with a different one. This kind of modification is called “API (application programme interface)”9. One popular example are videos uploaded and hosted on YouTube, which can be automatically shared with Facebook so that it is possible to watch them either on the YouTube channel or on the Facebook profile. In this example the two websites receive their information through each others’ API.

3.1.3 User-generated content

The main contents of web 2.0 websites are created often by the users themselves instead of the developers behind a site. For a regular user the web is no longer just a way to read information but it also allows him to write information himself. This is the reason for another popular term: The “read-write-web10 that describes this third aspect of web 2.0. In this way the content of modern websites is getting more dynamic and in general more interesting.

3.1.4 Social participation

Because of the easy way to write content into the web without having any knowledge about how the web really works, the user can easily react on other users activities. “Rating, ranking and commenting are all ways of giving and receiving feedback11 and interacting with other users. In this way using the web might be a bit like acting in real life but it obviously is kind of social participation.

3.2 Certain examples of web 2.0

In the following part there I will present three websites which characterize the web 2.0 and which are very popular in these days. Moreover they played an important role in the presidential election 200812. This will make it easier to understand what web 2.0 really describes and what its possibilities are.

3.2.1 Twitter

This is the web’s newest great invention and was founded in 2006. It calls itself a “real-time information network13 that wants the user to answer just one single question in 140 characters: “What are you doing?14 The answers called “tweets15 are published on the users profile similar to a blog with very short posts. Twitter is “about the little things that happen in your life16 that nobody needs to know, but that are nevertheless interesting.

Besides a search function Twitter allows the user to follow his friends and get their updates onto the own homepage. The network can be updated through a browser or by SMS which makes it easy to be used regularly.

Although the website is already four years old and became very popular in the days of presidential election, Twitter had its breakthrough in the early 2009 and has now reached about 50 million tweets per day as you can see in the graphic bellow that shows the tweets per day in millions.

In my opinion twitter is great for people with a marked talkativeness. They can tell the world what they are doing even if nobody is really interested in it. When I have twittered myself I could not really understand what everybody likes about it.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

3.2.2 YouTube

YouTube was founded in February 200518 and it is the greatest and most popular video platform on the web. Everyone can upload his own videos onto the site and present it to the world’s audience. Moreover it allows you to “Broadcast Yourself19 by creating a channel with additional information, playlists and of course your videos.

In a video made by the You Tube developers in the early beginning of the site the cameraman is joking that the video20 could be viewed by 2 Million people one day: It is now at 1.9 Million! This fact shows how unexpected fast YouTube as a part of web 2.0 has become famous.

YouTube has had such a great success that it was bought by Google in 2006 for the equivalent of 1.3 billion euro21.

3.2.3 Facebook

With millions22 of users Facebook is the world's major social network. It can be described as a large source of personal profiles, which are connected with each other through links. Besides the personal information every user has the possibility to upload photos, videos and notes23. Nearly all information on Facebook can be commented so that using Facebook is a bit like acting and talkin]g in a virtual life with friends and familiar.

By clicking through the profiles of your friends you can browse their photos and videos. Facebook is also great to find new friends.

4 The System of presidential election

Although the United States are democratic like many other countries their system is special and different in many ways. The United States consist of 50 states that all have their personal electoral laws24. This fact makes the United States presidential election complicated in some way. That is why it will be explained just in broad strokes.

The United States’ population cannot vote their president directly but they have the chance to vote for electors of their state. Every state has a certain number of electors that can be sent to the actual presidential election. Of course everyone knows which elector would vote for which candidate, but the electors are not tied to their statement or party and so they are able to choose freely. The number of electors that a state is entitled to have is not equal to its population. In the United States there are a total number of 538 electors who can elect the president25.

An important rule that applies in 48 of the 50 states is: “The winner-takes-all26. This means that the party with the most votes sends all their electors for one state. The same happens in the case that one party got just 51% of all votes in one state, because then it also sends its total number of electors. This rule makes it possible to become president with less than the half of the votes. In this fact the system may seem to be unfair but it was created in days when it was impossible to collect the votes of the whole population.

4.1 The two major parties

One of the greatest tragedies would be to have two political parties made up just on the right and the left.27 In some way this tragedy got reality in the United States today but there are different opinions on whether this situation is good or not.

Of course the Unites States do have more than just two parties like every other democratic country but there are generally just two of them which are important28.


1 Julia Davies and Guy Merchant - “web 2.0 for schools” - page 3

2 Julia Davies and Guy Merchant - “web 2.0 for schools” - page 3

3 The content of a website can change from time to time (often changed by users)

4 Tim O’Reilly - “What is web 2.0 - (4th March)

5 Julia Davies and Guy Merchant - “web 2.0 for schools” - page 3

6 Julia Davies and Guy Merchant - “web 2.0 for schools” - page 5

7 Julia Davies and Guy Merchant - "web 2.0 for schools" - page 5

8 See: Facebook

9 Julia Davies and Guy Merchant - “web 2.0 for schools” - page 5

10 Julia Davies and Guy Merchant - “web 2.0 for schools” - page 3

11 Julia Davies and Guy Merchant - “web 2.0 for schools” - page 5

12 See: Case study of 2008

13 (17th March)

14 “Twitter in Plain English” - (17th March)

15 (17th March)

16 “Twitter in Plain English” - (17th March)

17 “Tweets per Day” - (17th March)

18 “Geschichte des Unternehmens” - (4th March)

19 (4th March)

20 (4th March)

21 Andreas Berchem - “Google kauft YouTube” - (30th March)

22 (17th March)

23 (10th April)

24 Martin Fehndrich, Wilko Zicht and Matthias Cantow - “US-Präsidentenwahl” - (8th April)

25 Martin Fehndrich, Wilko Zicht and Matthias Cantow - “US-Präsidentenwahl” - (8th April)

26 Martin Fehndrich, Wilko Zicht and Matthias Cantow - “US-Präsidentenwahl” - (8th April)

27 Albertis Harrison - found in: “Democrats vs. Republicans” - page 136

28 Thomas A. Bailey - “Democrats vs. Republicans” - page 136

Excerpt out of 23 pages


Relevance of web 2.0 for the United States presidential election in 2008
Helene Lange Gymnasium
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
ISBN (Book)
File size
663 KB
web 2.0, obama, mccain, presidential, election, 2008, usa, united states, grassroots, campaign
Quote paper
Frederik Gossen (Author), 2010, Relevance of web 2.0 for the United States presidential election in 2008, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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