This project had two distinct phases. Phase 1 involved picking a topic, immersing myself in that topic, and coming up with some solid arguments based on a theoretical framework and some initial questions my original research tried to answer. In class, we were divided into two groups, for reasons unrelated to this project. Those groups, however, were used for group assignments based on our projects. Essentially, based on our research to that point, we had to come up with some kind of assignment for a group to do, and to use that feedback for the rest of the project.
For me, this part was a no-brainer. My biggest problem with my topic was always that politics is such a touchy subject, and everything I found online was always someone’s opinion. Add to that the fact that I can’t help forming my own opinions about things, and I’m left with a lot of research that I’m too scared to do anything with. To help combat this problem, I asked my group to pick a political candidate that I was already researching (I got lucky here and had exactly five other people in my group), and spend some time browsing their digital campaign (I use these assignments under the tab “The Candidates”).
After presenting phase 1 of my project to the class, there was time set aside for even more feedback (if i’ve learned anything from this project, it’s that you have to utilize the network). The purpose of this feedback was, like the group assignment, to help direct the rest of the project. While researching this topic, I’ll admit that I’ve been probably too focused on positive consequences of the influence of networked, digital technology on politics. While I wasn’t discarding research that didn’t help prove this point, I never questioned that didn’t find much to disprove this point. Luckily, this is where the class came in. The most common theme in all of the feedback I got had to do with negative consequences of digital technology.
Originally, most of my research for phase 2 of this project was going to be designed to evaluate “viewer responses” to a candidate’s digital campaign. Specifically, after looking at how each candidate formed his digital campaign, look at the reactions of Americans viewing these online campaigns. Although this is something that I still included in my project, I realized that I needed to expand on this a little bit. The majority of my phase 2 research can be found under the tabs “Viewer Statistics and the Voter,” and have been updated to include the feedback I received from the class. Mainly, more negative aspects of the consequences of digital politics, such as a growing informality in campaigns and political “slacktivism.”