Becoming an interactive political pundit

What a political season we’re having in the United States this year. From the economic collapse of the financial sector to high oil prices, broken mortgages, waging wars in other countries, and perhaps a worldwide recession, people are starting to get worried (or rather they already are). So with today’s scheduled presidential debates in Mississippi between Senators Obama (D-IL) and McCain (R-AZ), it’s no wonder that social media is getting into the act by helping to create more conversation and hopefully affect what’s going on in the political spectrum.

What’s been at the forefront of this conversation? Why Twitter, of course. People have been offering their instant feedback on anything and everything that’s been happening during the campaign cycle, from the primary to the general election. In each primary debate, whether it’s Republican or Democrat, you can log onto Summize and simply look up and read all that people are saying about the respective candidate and their position. And just by simply using Twitter, you are able to now be a part of the conversation and let the candidates and press know exactly what the “common people” are thinking and your reaction.

But before I go any further, there’s also video blogging applications like Seesmic, Viddler, and, of course, YouTube, which has had a starring role in one of the CNN primary debates. Although not as potent in terms of the conversation, it has shown the candidates and the country how important it is to not forget that while we might appreciate our candidate visiting our fair state or city, there’s ways for us to communicate both positive and negative feedback if we feel slighted or proud.

Now with tonight’s first of a series of presidential debates, social media is coming out en masse to make sure that the public’s voice is heard and offer you various ways to contribute your thoughts to what the candidates are saying and become a political pundit like you would see on CNN, FOX, MSNBC, or any mainstream media network. Long gone are commenting on blog posts on media websites voicing your insight. We need instant gratification and social media is there to quench our thirst to let our voices be heard. The Social Times has just posted a great article discussing how the big names of social media are getting into the game and some new applications that have also been rolled out to help fuel the fire of real-time reporting and information aggregating.

CSPAN and Twitter (once again) are offering powerful voices for the millions of people logged onto their computers and mobile devices to let them share thoughts, insights, criticisms, or praise on their candidate of choice. Produced by New Media Strategies and designed by Jess3.com in the Washington, DC metro area, CSPAN has effectively rolled out a social media aggregator to share what’s going on during the party conventions that pulls RSS feeds from media & bloggers, videos from YouTube and even Qik. Twitter is also incorporated into the two sites – Republican and Democrat. But hold onto your horses because they also just rolled out a new presidential debate hub that gives you video of past debates, timeline information, blog RSS aggregation, and real-time Twitter conversations. But what’s most interesting is that CSPAN has a tag cloud that keeps track of the most common used keywords and shows you its popularity as it’s used in the debate. It’s a cool site so I suggest checking it out.

Twitter is doing the same thing as CSPAN, but only focused primarily on, well what else? Twitters! Finally incorporating the awesome power of recent acquisition Summize, Twitter has created an interactive center for all your Twitters to appear…as long as it has certain keywords. You can also check out the tag cloud to see what the most common used keyword is and the feed is real-time as well. Search to see conversations by all candidates or look to see what others are saying about a specific major party candidate (Obama, McCain, Biden, or Palin).

So when you want to be heard this election season, don’t try and get yourself on TV as that’s probably a long-shot. You might as well join the millions broadcasting around the country by jumping on social media and offering your own spin on what these candidates are doing or plan on doing to help shape the next four years of our country.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently Flipboard's Assistant Managing Editor, overseeing news curation in technology, science, gaming and health. In addition to his day job, Ken's the co-host of "The Created Economy" podcast, examining the Creator Economy. In a past life, he was a former reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding.