Sunday, October 19, 2008

Acting Calculating

On the front page of the Obama campaign's website, there is a tax calculator that purports to show how the individual voter would benefit in money saved by the Obama tax proposal, while engaging the visitor to the site with a particular type of highly constrained interactive display, which -- like other web generators -- may prove to have great popular appeal, based on its captivating "automagical" character.

Of course, there are other tax calculators from other interest groups that don't promulgate a pro-Obama message, but it seems that this is still more evidence -- based on the 1.5 million people who have used it to crunch the numbers -- that the Obama campaign understands how to use its website with an understanding of digital rhetoric that the opposition party seems to lack entirely.

While the Obama campaign even has a downloads page so one can assume Barack Obama's identity as your personal icon for purposes of online chat, the McCain campaign seems to be engaging in a misguided social media initiative, Generation '08, that is based on accepting a digital divide in which older voters would be entirely separate from a tech-savvy contingent of "digital youth." This is a myth that Siva Vaidhyanathan, among others, recently tried to demolish in an essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education, but it still seems to hold true among Republicans promoting the hokey McCain Space, where members can post pro-McCain bedroom blogs based on the primary narcissism of self-promotion or funny (and often off-topic) videos like this one.

At least the McCain campaign has gotten rid of highlighting its unintentionally humorous introduction to the McCain Space site by the candidate himself and instead emphasizes appeals from McCain's less dorky young daughter, but I apologize to regular visitors for the robo-call style automated video player that assaults any readers of the bloggers who embed their McCain Space clips.

Although obviously heavily moderated to screen out Obama supporters, McCain Space does contain some critical feedback among party faithful, including this text message about the risky expenditure of $150,000 for clothes for Sarah Palin.

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Blogger Rebecca said...

Hello Dr. Losh,
I took a break from studying Chemistry and Anatomy and visited your blog. As soon as I connected to your blog the McCain space immediately played and freaked me out. I thought that your blog was being hacked into by McCain's campaign, but I scrolled down and found the McCain space link!

8:36 PM  

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