RealTime IT News

Tech a Big Player at GOP Convention

Hurricane Gustav's blown over, New Orleanians are streaming back into their home city, and the Republican National Convention is back in full swing after a subdued beginning.

Last night, all eyes were on Sarah Palin, John McCain's controversial pick for vice president, and, like last week in Denver with the Democrats, the Web is ablaze with political chatter.

Palin has been a lightning rod for Web-based buzz since rumors first started floating around over the weekend that her youngest child, Trig, who has Down's Syndrome, was actually the son of Palin's teenage daughter, Bristol. Those rumors, though entirely divorced from reality, gained enough traction to prompt a statement Monday morning from Palin and her husband that 17-year-old Bristol was pregnant, and planned to carry the child to term and marry the father.

Three days later, the Internet is still agog over Palin fresh off of her first address before a national audience. And for total coverage of this, one of the more highly anticipated vice-presidential convention addresses in recent memory, the Web was on the case.

The conventions of course are a media feeding frenzy of epic proportions. The new class of social media services on the Web has made convention coverage very much a participatory proposition.

That spirit finds a natural home at TheUptake.com, the site that is aggregating the output of the army of citizen journalists who have descended on the convention. Uptake is featuring live streaming from the convention, capturing politicians in the occasional candid moment, as well as the protests that have already resulted in several arrests.

But the official coverage comes from Ustream.tv, which is providing live streaming coverage of each evening's events at the convention in St. Paul, Minn., and has made the feed available for anyone to post on a personal blog, Facebook profile or Twitter page. At the Democratic Convention in Denver, Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) handled the streaming with its Silverlight technology.

Google and Microsoft join in

Microsoft is an official technology provider for the RNC, however, contributing wayfinding kiosks, electronic collaboration tools to help the convention staff communicate with each other and other tech bells and whistles.

Google, also an official provider, (NASDAQ: GOOG) has embedded the Ustream feed on its news page.

Google is again maintaining a strong branded presence at the convention, offering YouTube kiosks in the media row where attendees can upload their video endorsements of the candidates. YouTube is also giving the politicians in attendance the chance to deliver their message straight to the site's sizable community. The videos are available at YouTube's GOP Convention site.

Google is also powering the search on its official Web site.

But it's not all drab politics as usual. Google and Vanity Fair are reprising their role as co-hosts of the after-party at the Democratic Convention to throw another wingding this Thursday for the assembled luminaries of the right.

Attendees can look forward to a glow-in-the-dark dance floor, an open "candy bar" and catering courtesy of Wolfgang Puck, a Google spokeswoman told InternetNews.com.