We kicked off our panel discussion on the impact the new media have had on the '08 race by giving the 450-strong crowd of guests a quick pop quiz on Michelle Obama's favorite show: The Brady Bunch. True or false: Marsha was a Muslim?
The actual panel started by recognizing that such a panel could not have existed in 2004. For starters, HuffPost didn't exist. Much more significantly, neither did YouTube, which was represented by founder Chad Hurley. YouTube has become such an integral part of our daily life -- and of our political life -- it's hard to remember that Chad Hurley and Steve Chen didn't throw the switch until February 2005.
And there is no way panelist will.i.am's "Yes We Can" remix would've become the mega-hit in 2004 that it became in 2008.
As Charlie Rose summed it up, the theme of the panel was convergence, with Katharine Weymouth (the new publisher of the Washington Post) and George Stephanopoulos agreeing with Chad Hurley, Fred Armisen, Marc Gerson and me that the old debate pitting print vs. online is obsolete.
Rep. Rahm Emanuel, representing elected officials, marveled at the way new media has completely changed the way candidates raise money -- with the money raised online for congressional races increasing exponentially.
And then there was will.i.am's unique way of sizing up the changes in the media landscape, which rocked the house.
He dubbed the way information is passed along in the new media "batonable": someone puts out a piece of content; the person who sees it then picks up the baton and runs with it, then passes the baton on to their friends, who then pass the baton on to their friends. In that way, the information is disseminated in its original, unadulterated form -- as opposed to the traditional media process where those passing it along often do it through their own filters.
He also made the distinction between the way people consume traditional media -- sitting on the couch -- and the way people take in new media as if galloping on a horse... riding along the Internet countryside like online Paul Reveres.
Then there was his prediction that in the future new media would allow people to develop a collective, intuitive consciousness. It will be like a school of fish, he said. You won't hear anything, you'll just see the air bubbles... and a whole group will suddenly decide to turn at the same time.
And when Katherine Weymouth suggested we need to come up with different terms than Old Media and New Media, will had a great suggestion: let's call them the media of yesterday and the media of tomorrow.
Somebody should give this guy a couple hundred million dollars to start a media messaging company. Maybe Chad.
Photos by Jeff Vespa/WireImage.com
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