Millennials

MySpace, YouTube & the future of American politics. Though one of these things is no longer really at play in the online world (rhymes with spymace) the book, Millennial Makeover, by Morley Winograd and Michael D. Hais, still has themes that play strongly in today’s digital/political landscape.

In the video of Winograd and Hais, Winograd said that in 2006 they approached publishers predicting that in 2008 we would witness a complete political transformation, Democrats would raise more money than Republicans and young voters will come out in record numbers and much of it would be raised online — and we’re laughed away. Turns out they were right.

Politics is not linear — the American political system is cyclical, said Hais. Historically, one political party has dominated for a long period of time, setting the tone for public policy, until a new cycle begins. And the authors predicted a change would be coming in 20008. Again, turns out they were right.

I enjoyed the discussion in Wining the Technology Arms Race regarding the different approaches to online media by Republicans and Democrats. Mike Turk, eCampaign Director for Bush-Cheney 2005 offered some points: “Republicans were simply not as interested in virtual networking…If you’re cynical, you could make the argument that it is a party that doesn’t trust its people enough to let them participate.” It was said that Democrats embraced user-generated content more, which gave them an advantage.

Yet, another approach that came to mind is that young people are more likely to be Democrats, and therefore more likely to online savvy. Perhaps it wasn’t that Republicans didn’t trust ITS people enough to let that participate, maybe they didn’t trust the opposition — the digitally capable Democrats.  This seems to be the case in the McCainSpace example, where Turk tried to sign up for the online platform but after two weeks his account still had not even been approved. Without approval there could be no participation.

Regarding political campaign promotion, the Social Networks section, the authors wrote that, “The same pattern of displacement (as TV outpaced radio) will cause television to lose its role as the primary medium for campaigns to get their messages out to voters in the near future.” I agree, and think that television will be overtaken by online media in the future. Currently, there is still a large amount of people who rely on TV and nightly news for their information consumption. Yet, as the current millennials grow up and everyone is comfortable using the web until old age then I predict the internet will be the primary source of information gathering.

Insights about Millenialls and how they (we) shape the digital/political landscape will continually evolve, and as communication professionals we have a front row seat to this shaping of the online world.

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