Total Coverage: Tracking the Online Election
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Today's election, the culmination of a two-year campaign that has generated unprecedented media attention, has lit up the Web in a way that would have been unimaginable in 2004.
The proliferation of online polling and politically-themed social-media content -- from the candidates' own Web sites to the ceaseless barrage of micro-rants on Twitter -- have stamped this election with an unmistakable Web 2.0 imprimatur.
Consider YouTube, Google's popular video-sharing site. YouTube staked its claim in the political arena during the primaries, when it partnered with CNN to host a debate among the candidates of the two major parties. But that was just the tip of the iceberg.
Of course, simply making it to the polls isn't enough -- not for the total coverage the Web is gunning for. In partnership with PBS, YouTube is asking voters to record their Election Day experiences and submit them to its Video Your Vote channel.
The idea is to create a comprehensive, unvarnished record of the voting experience in an election where doubts persist about the reliability of electronic polling machines and accusations about voter fraud continue to fly.
"Voters have documented each step of the 2008 election on YouTube and this phenomenon will culminate on November 4," Steve Grove, YouTube's head of news and politics, said in a statement. "This partnership with PBS, an organization known for offering rich perspectives, will help voters examine all aspects of voting from the registration processes, to reforms, to technology and election administration, to the actual casting of ballots."
But the phenomenon of sharing your Election Day experience doesn't end with YouTube -- not by a long shot. Twitter has set up a Voter Report feed so motivated citizens can share their stories about braving the polls via real-time microblog.
Then on the social news side of the Web, Digg's U.S. Elections 2008 page is showcasing the most popular news stories about the campaign.
Digg and Twitter have both partnered with CurrentTV, a cable channel co-founded by Al Gore, for an Election Night Party. Along with streaming video from 12seconds.tv and a DJ set in the background, Current will provide a multimedia dashboard featuring election Tweets and Digg comments in what it bills as "the future of election coverage."
And if you're feeling speculative, the wagering site InTrade has become a favorite stop. Intrade lays odds on the outcomes of the great questions of the day, and invites people to purchase prediction contracts whose value rises and falls with the market speculation. As of late Monday, the market set the likelihood of an Obama victory at 90.1 percent.
Next page: not all fun and games.