The World is Watching

The Economist's Global Electoral College

The Economist

The American election is over.  Democracy did its job and we have a new President.  And a new congress. There are so many elements that made this election momentous, but what strikes me most profoundly was the globalness of it all.  The world was most definitely watching and, for the first time in eight years, I felt like a citizen of the world. 

I read about Kenyans flocking to all-night parties to watch the results come in. From the small Irish village of Moneygall, that claims Barack Obama as a favorite son (by way of his great great great grandfather), a pub called Moneygall’s Hayes hung an American flag yesterday and featured a local band getting some YouTube attention with their folk song “There’s No one as Irish as Barack Obama“.  In Paris, there was a “Goodbye George” party and in Berlin, an all-night election party at the Babylon Theater.  My Welsh cousin emailed me this morning to tell me that she drove to work, listening to Barack’s acceptance speech on her car radio, with tears streaming down her face.  And my Italian sister-in-law who watched the returns, giddily emailing me with her enthusiasum over the results, as she, in turn, emailed with her family and friends back in Italy. No doubt about it, the world is watching.  And for our fellow citizens of the world who’ve been disenchanted with America, disappointed with our woeful citizenry over the last eight years, it feels like a new day.

This feeling of global participation in our electoral tradition was bolstered by the power of technology.  Were you as dazzled as I was by the interactive maps, charts, and holograms (yes, holograms!) on the news channels last night?  My, my.

I watched the election results unfold with my laptop open, browsing the various analytical sites with eager interest.  Literally twitching from one dynamic display to the next – soaking up information and interpretation as I went.

Here are a few of my favorites. On The NY Times Election Map  you can examine each state and each county within each state.  You can zip back in time to compare election-year results all the way back to 1992. Or if you prefer to digest your results in columns of numbers, you can switch to the “Big Board” view and gobble up percentages.

From the Huffington Post

From the Huffington Post

For the visually minded, a photo collection on the Huffington Post features stunning photos of Barack Obama’s stepmother in Kenya, crying with joy, and a gleeful group of Indonesian school children holding up a picture of Obama and cheering.  Or the inspiring photo essay in the International Herald Tribune of “America Voting”. I gaze at those photos and grin from ear to ear.

To get a feel for the immediacy of the web, check out the various election wikipedia pages and look at the history pages to see by-the-minute updates.  The twitter blog report posted a constantly running stream of voter “tweets” from all over the country. What a remarkable feeling it was to see those comments streaming in…“waited in line for three hours to cast my vote in Cambridge, MA.”

The Washington Post ran a completely compelling Time/Space Map where media, photographs, stories, podcasts, and statistics were gathered on an interactive map of the country, expanding and contracting, and re-building as the night unfolded.

For those hungry for the details of the Congressional election you can head to the CNN Election Center and see your data served any which way.

Content aggregators might prefer something like the Mind Manager Map which used a tool called Mindjet to gather maps, candidates’ stand on the issues, election results, polling place locations, and blogger opinions.

For those intrigued by the mathematical possabilites in the electoral college, you can experiment with the electoral college calculator and try some “what-if” scenarios.

Washington D.C.’s Newseum site displayed the daily newspaper front pages (595 of them) from around the world in their original, unedited form.

But here’s my absolute favorite. The Economist ran a Global Electoral College (shown above) where citizens of the world could vote their choice online.  I can’t get over the stunning site of our world map, all in blue, with just a smattering of “red” countries.  The world is watching.

And then this morning, the stirring speeches of both candidates – video, running alongside a coordinated transcript – to give you the feeling of being there in Grant Park, with the cheering thousands of Americans.

In all my years of watching our electoral process, I’ve never felt more connected to the details of the results and – through them – to the hope and promise of the outcome.

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2 Comments

Filed under Technology Trends

2 responses to “The World is Watching

  1. Very nice post. 🙂

    Did you know that the virtual world was also filled with election-watching and celebration? I was on Capitol Hill for a little while myself. And Hamlet Au was live blogging for New World Notes.
    http://nwn.blogs.com/nwn/2008/11/live-blogging-t.html

    Chimera

  2. rheyden

    Yet another way, Liz, that the virtual world augments and expands the real world. Wonderful!

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