Since the Internet was invented by Al Gore J way back when, political junkies have been predicting that it would change the face of politics forever. The reality is that the Internet hasn’t really change politics, but it has had an impact, as have mobile devices. In effect, technology has affected politics in much the same way it has impacted every facet of our lives: it has speeded things up and created an “always on” society that has changed the dynamics if not the substance of politics.
For example, there was a time when a politician would communicate with his or her constituents via the nightly news using tightly scripted talking points with no rebuttal from the opposition until the following evening’s news cycle. The pace was pretty slow and predictable and much more controlled by the people who run political campaigns. Contrast that to what happens today, when politicians are forced to use social media to instantly communicate a counter argument to their opponents positions, usually at the same time the argument is being made! Instant response teams are tasked with monitoring speeches, press releases, social media sites and every other form of communication the opponent uses and then attack immediately. The result is that the messages come so fast and furious, that most Americans just tune out completely. Surveys show that less than a third of the public actually pays attention to political communications, but that still leaves a lot of people who like the back and forth and for them, there’s an app for that!
Here are my top three apps for political junkies:
First, there’s Politifact, which is app by the same people who run the popular politifact.com website. It tracks the things politicians say and assigns a truth index to their messages, think of it as a political truth-o-meter. It also tells you who has flip-flopped on their policy positions.
Then there’s PollTracker, for the die-hard political junkie who wants up-to-the-minute information on the results of polling. As we get closer to the elections, then number of races being polled is growing and the number of pollsters releasing results is increasing, so this app is a tidy way to get all your polling information in one simple package.
Finally, there’s a relay cool app called Sitegeist. To truly appreciate this app, you have to be someone who’s a bit of a busybody because what it does is tell you about your neighbors political leanings. Using your location and using publicly available databases, it will display data on the surrounding demographics as well as the voting tendencies and political contributions of your neighbors. You can roam around neighborhoods at random and see what those people have been up to. I can see some people using it even to help them find their next home. First, find a good school district for the kids, check! Next, find the neighborhood that most shares my political leanings, check!
There are a bunch of more apps out there that focus on politics, including plenty of apps available from the politicians and political parties themselves, so if you’re into politics, you can find everything you need on your smartphone!