As predicted, tech advances -- and the new media they have made possible -- have had a game-changing effect on the political world.
From the way campaigns connect to supporters, to the way those campaigns are covered, to the way voters decide who to vote for, 2008 has delivered the first truly 21st century presidential race.
To explore this brave new world of broadband politics and political coverage, HuffPost is hosting a discussion this Tuesday during the Democratic National Convention at The Brown Palace, Denver's historic 116-year-old hotel.
We've invited panelists from all sides of the equation.
The new media will be repped by YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley, Will.i.am, whose "Yes We Can" video remix was a mega-online hit, and me. We've seen the impact viral videos have had on campaigns - both negative (from "Macaca" to sniper-free landings in Bosnia to "God Damn, America" to John McCain's flummoxed Viagra reaction) and positive (Obama's 37-minute speech on race has been viewed over 4.7 million times).
According to Pew, nearly a quarter of Americans say they have seen something about the '08 race -- a speech, an interview, a commercial, a debate -- in an online video. That number jumps to over 41 percent among voters under 30.
This has had a profound effect on the way and the speed with which campaigns get their messages out. Although tens of millions of dollars are still being spent on traditional TV ad buys by the campaigns, many of the TV ads we've seen so far in the general election have been backed by very small buys -- the campaigns know that the ads will whip around the web without having to spend a dime.
ABC's George Stephanopoulos and Washington Post publisher Katharine Weymouth will weigh in on how traditional media outlets have been affected by the changing media landscape. Has it changed the way they approach the '08 race? Do they see new media outlets as the enemy or their future -- or both? Weymouth's Post has poured hundreds of millions of dollars into its digital operations and has seen itself transformed from a largely local paper with a print circulation of around 650,000 to an international paper attracting millions of online readers. And ABC is breaking more and more of its news online. We saw how upset John Edwards was when his attempt to control his confession by giving it to Nightline -- so it would run late on Friday, during the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympic Games -- was subverted by the story being posted online, and breaking like wildfire. Did he really expect it to happen any other way? It's still hard for many politicians to adjust to the new 24/7 news cycle.
Rep. Rahm Emanuel, Chair of the Democratic Caucus, will offer his take on the repercussions the new media are having on Congressional candidates. And since nothing succeeds like success, you can be sure campaigns everywhere are adopting the Obama approach. As Peter Daou, Hillary Clinton's Internet director, puts it, "Theirs is an operation that everyone will be studying for campaigns to come."
Obama's online operation incorporates everything from viral videos to texting-as-a-grassroots-organizing-tool to social networking sites to its online fundraising juggernaut. The Washington Post's Jose Antonio Vargas offers chapter and verse on "Triple O: Obama's online operation." Among the choice nuggets: Obama's YouTube channel currently has over 1,100 videos, and MyBO (Obama's social networking site) has more than a million members, who have held about 80,000 offline events. And, of course, there is the $200 million Obama has raised online.
Also joining the panel is Barack Obama. Okay, it's not really Barack Obama... but the next best thing: Saturday Night Live's Fred Armisen, who will talk about the role that satire has played in shaping the race. After 33 years SNL was more relevant than ever this primary season. And although it originates on a very traditional media source, its political sketches were given a huge boost -- and played endlessly -- online.
Rounding out the panel is Matt Gerson, senior vice president of public policy and government relations for Universal Music Group. UMG is co-sponsoring the luncheon, and Gerson will bring a business perspective to the discussion. Thanks also to event co-sponsor Political IQ, an exciting new video website launching soon.
Charlie Rose will moderate and weave it all together.
So stay tuned for highlights and video of the event.
HuffPost's Oasis: The Place to Unplug and Recharge at the DNC