“Controlled Interactivity: Presidential Campaigning in the Internet Age”
Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaigns used digital media in seemingly unprecedented ways energizing and mobilizing the electorate to engage in the essential task in our democratic process: voting. Yet, Obama’s campaign was not the first nor even the most innovative in using digital media in the work of campaigning. Moreover, the affordances of digital communication, especially the increase in two-way communication and the flattening of hierarchies between ordinary citizens and political elites, have not been structured into campaign practices. Campaigns use a controlled interactivity to harness the enthusiasm of supporters to organize on behalf of the campaign, not in the service of genuine democratic engagement but in the service of winning the election.
Jenny Stromer-Galley (PhD Annenberg School for Communication, University of Pennsylvania) is an Associate Professor in the School of Information Studies at Syracuse University, and Vice President of the Association of Internet Researchers.
She has been studying “social media” since before it was called social media, studying online influence, political deliberation and participation via digital media, and multi-player online games, Jenny has published over 40 journal articles, proceedings, and book chapters. Her book, Presidential Campaigning in the Internet Age (Oxford University Press), provides a history of presidential campaigns as they have adopted and adapted to digital communication technologies. She is currently co-PI of a research consortium experimenting with aspects of educational games to improve learning.