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Looking Ahead to Obama's 2012 Social Media Campaign
--Guest post by American University graduate student Laila Yette.
Through the use of sites like Facebook and Twitter, President Obama’s 2008 campaign changed the way that we view social media and its relation to elections. Because of the awareness that was brought to social media and the impact that it can have on the way the public views a candidate, as the 2012 election is quickly approaching, candidates are taking to social networking sites to reach a broader audience.
To help monitor the candidate’s campaigns, The Meltwater Group launched the Meltwater Election Buzz. This site serves as “a one-stop online resource for tracking and analyzing the social conversation around the issues and candidates in the 2012 presidential election.” Posts from Twitter, Facebook, blogs, message boards, and other online sites are monitored daily and gathered to create a word cloud with the most prominent issues. In addition to the word cloud that focuses on the election as a whole, word clouds will be generated for each candidate to show what their main focus is. Weekly blog posts discussing top news are another facet that The Meltwater Group has made available to the public.
Internet and social media strategy complemented the traditional campaign activities of the Obama campaign. The Pew Internet & American Life Project has reported the 2008 election as the first time that “more than half the voting-age population used the internet to connect to the political process during an election cycle.”
During the campaign, the three major social networking sites, MySpace, Facebook and YouTube ranked among the top ten sites visited online. In addition to those sites, Twitter also influenced the campaign. The use of these sites altered the way in which candidates ran their campaigns and helped President Obama garner the youth vote.
With 5 million friends on 15 social networking sites, and 3 million of those friends on Facebook alone, President Obama’s campaign team knew which sites to join and joined sites that most people would not even think of. According to The Social Pulpit: Barack Obama’s Social Media Toolkit, by Edelman, President Obama started a profile on AsianAve.com, MiGente.com and BlackPlanet.com. He did not leave a stone unturned in using social media to reach across voter segments. Wanting to connect with people regardless of their demographic, President Obama reached out to the public however he could.
The Edelman toolkit also discusses the demonstrated support on Facebook. More than 900,000 people joined the ‘One Million Strong for Obama’ group and a number of colleges and universities had Facebook groups showing their support. People were able to discuss the latest issues that President Obama brought up in a debate, speech or appearance. Having the instant connection and ability to voice their opinion was important for the youth.
President Obama’s campaign also started a page on MySpace. With over 110 million members near the time of the election, MySpace was an essential medium in getting the message out. Like Facebook, MySpace allowed people to discuss their thoughts on the campaign freely.
The role that YouTube played in the election is also important to consider. The Edelman toolkit explains that during Obama’s campaign to the White House, almost 2,000 official YouTube videos were watched more than 80 million times. Allowing people to watch content created by the Obama campaign, as well as user generated content, gave people the feeling that they were being heard. Posting a video that you made for people around the corner to people an ocean away to be able to watch is powerful. Posts on YouTube also open the door for discussion. In addition, YouTube allows for potential news to constantly be produced. President Obama’s campaign team could upload a video to the site at any time of day, anywhere in the world.
The convenience that he afforded the public, especially the youth, helped win him the election. President Obama’s campaign team discovered how to best connect with people and get them involved. Always being connected and able to access the Internet from anywhere at anytime is important for youth. Through the use of social media, President Obama not only strengthened his traditional campaign activities by engaging with the vote, but he also shaped the future of elections. As more people become more involved with social media, future candidates will have to incorporate the sites into their campaigns.
--Guest post by Laila Yette, an MA student in Public Communication at American University in Washington, D.C.
Read other posts from Yette's project team examining strategies from the 2008 election campaigns as well posts from other project teams in her course on Public Communication Theory
Figallo, Cliff (2011). ‘Election Buzz’ Site to Track Online Conversation About 2012 Campaigns. [HTML]
Lutz, Monte (2009). The Social Pulpit: Barack Obama’s Social Media Toolkit. [PDF]
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Richard Feynman once asked a silly question. Two MIT students just answered it.
Here's a fun experiment to try. Go to your pantry and see if you have a box of spaghetti. If you do, take out a noodle. Grab both ends of it and bend it until it breaks in half. How many pieces did it break into? If you got two large pieces and at least one small piece you're not alone.
But science loves a good challenge<p>The mystery remained unsolved until 2005, when French scientists <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/~audoly/" target="_blank">Basile Audoly</a> and <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/~neukirch/" target="_blank">Sebastien Neukirch </a>won an <a href="https://www.improbable.com/ig/" target="_blank">Ig Nobel Prize</a>, an award given to scientists for real work which is of a less serious nature than the discoveries that win Nobel prizes, for finally determining why this happens. <a href="http://www.lmm.jussieu.fr/spaghetti/audoly_neukirch_fragmentation.pdf" target="_blank">Their paper describing the effect is wonderfully funny to read</a>, as it takes such a banal issue so seriously. </p><p>They demonstrated that when a rod is bent past a certain point, such as when spaghetti is snapped in half by bending it at the ends, a "snapback effect" is created. This causes energy to reverberate from the initial break to other parts of the rod, often leading to a second break elsewhere.</p><p>While this settled the issue of <em>why </em>spaghetti noodles break into three or more pieces, it didn't establish if they always had to break this way. The question of if the snapback could be regulated remained unsettled.</p>
Physicists, being themselves, immediately wanted to try and break pasta into two pieces using this info<p><a href="https://roheiss.wordpress.com/fun/" target="_blank">Ronald Heisser</a> and <a href="https://math.mit.edu/directory/profile.php?pid=1787" target="_blank">Vishal Patil</a>, two graduate students currently at Cornell and MIT respectively, read about Feynman's night of noodle snapping in class and were inspired to try and find what could be done to make sure the pasta always broke in two.</p><p><a href="http://news.mit.edu/2018/mit-mathematicians-solve-age-old-spaghetti-mystery-0813" target="_blank">By placing the noodles in a special machine</a> built for the task and recording the bending with a high-powered camera, the young scientists were able to observe in extreme detail exactly what each change in their snapping method did to the pasta. After breaking more than 500 noodles, they found the solution.</p>
The apparatus the MIT researchers built specifically for the task of snapping hundreds of spaghetti sticks.
(Courtesy of the researchers)
What possible application could this have?<p>The snapback effect is not limited to uncooked pasta noodles and can be applied to rods of all sorts. The discovery of how to cleanly break them in two could be applied to future engineering projects.</p><p>Likewise, knowing how things fragment and fail is always handy to know when you're trying to build things. Carbon Nanotubes, <a href="https://bigthink.com/ideafeed/carbon-nanotube-space-elevator" target="_self">super strong cylinders often hailed as the building material of the future</a>, are also rods which can be better understood thanks to this odd experiment.</p><p>Sometimes big discoveries can be inspired by silly questions. If it hadn't been for Richard Feynman bending noodles seventy years ago, we wouldn't know what we know now about how energy is dispersed through rods and how to control their fracturing. While not all silly questions will lead to such a significant discovery, they can all help us learn.</p>
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In a recent study, researchers examined how Christian nationalism is affecting the U.S. response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- A new study used survey data to examine the interplay between Christian nationalism and incautious behaviors during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- The researchers defined Christian nationalism as "an ideology that idealizes and advocates a fusion of American civic life with a particular type of Christian identity and culture."
- The results showed that Christian nationalism was the leading predictor that Americans engaged in incautious behavior.
A pastor at the chapel of the St. Josef Hospital on April 1, 2020 in Bochum, German
Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images<p>Christian nationalists, in general, believe the U.S. and God's will are tied together, and they want the government to embody conservative Christian values and symbols. As such, they also believe the nation's fate depends on how closely it adheres to Christianity.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Unsurprisingly then, in the midst of the COVID‐19 pandemic, conservative pastors prophesied God's protection over the nation, citing America's righteous support for President Trump and the prolife agenda," the researchers write.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Correspondingly, the link between Christian nationalism and God's influence on how COVID‐19 impacts America can be seen in proclamations about God's divine judgment for its immorality―with the logic being that God is using the pandemic to draw wayward America <em>back </em>to himself, which assumes the two belong together."</p><p>The logical conclusion to this kind of thinking: America can save itself not through cautionary measures, like mask-wearing, but through devotion to God. What's more, it stands to reason that Christian nationalists are less likely to trust the media and scientists, given that these sources are generally not concerned with promoting a conservative, religious view of the world.</p><p>(The researchers note that they're unaware of any research directly linking Christian nationalism to distrust of media sources, but that they're almost certain the two are connected.)</p>
Predicted values of Americans' frequency of incautious behaviors during the COVID‐19 pandemic across values of Christian nationalism
Perry et al.<p>In the new study, the researchers examined three waves of results from the Public and Discourse Ethics Survey. One wave of the survey was issued in May, and it asked respondents to rate how often they engaged in both incautious and precautionary behaviors.</p><p>Incautious behaviors included things like "ate inside a restaurant" and "went shopping for nonessential items," while precautionary behaviors included "washed my hands more often than typical" and "wore a mask in public."</p><p>To measure Christian nationalism, the researchers asked respondents to rate how strongly they agree with statements like "the federal government should advocate Christian values" and "the success of the United States is part of God's plan."</p><p>The results suggest that, compared to other groups, Christian nationalists are far less likely to wear masks, socially distance and take other precautionary measures amid the COVID-19 pandemic.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Christian nationalism was the leading predictor that Americans engaged in incautious behavior during the pandemic, and the second leading predictor that Americans avoided taking precautionary measures."</p><p>But that's not to say that religious beliefs are causing Americans to reject mask-wearing or social distancing. In fact, when the study accounted for Christian nationalist beliefs, the results showed that Americans with high levels of religiosity were likely to take precautionary measures for COVID-19.</p>
Limitations<p>Still, the researchers note that they're theorizing about the connections between Christian nationalism and COVID-19 behaviors, not documenting them directly. What's more, they suggest that certain experiences — such as having a family member that contracts COVID-19 — might change a Christian nationalist's behaviors during the pandemic.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"Limitations notwithstanding, the implications of this study are important for understanding Americans' curious inability to quickly implement informed and reasonable strategies to overcome the threat of COVID‐19, an inability that has likely cost thousands of lives," they write.</p>
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