Today most of the world woke up to learn that Barack Obama had won yesterday’s US presidential election and would be serving another four years as the American president. Political analysts and commentators are already kicking into gear to work out what it all might mean for America and the rest of the world. Aside from these more serious questions, the elections have also thrown up some interesting web-related curiosities. Here are my top 5 – mainly related around the use of social media during the elections.
1. Barack Obama’s ’4 more years’ tweet – which announced his victory – is now the most popular tweet of all time (re-tweeted over 500,000 times). However it wasn’t the only interesting election related tweet. Check out the best of ‘I’m moving to Canada’ themed tweets over at Mashable.
2. We saw extremely high voter turnout, probably owing to the fact that a close contest was predicted all along – but also possibly due to the mobilising power of social media. There were mobile apps designed which you could use to remind friends living in swing states to vote and Facebook even added a notification to remind users about election day and locate their nearest polling station.
3. This was the year that algorithm-based prediction really drove home its superiority over speculative punditry as Nate Silver correctly predicted the outcome in every single state (improving on his 2008 score of 49 correctly predicted out of 50). Silver’s algorithm works by collecting a variety of data and then weighting them according to their historic accuracy – even correctly identifying that Florida would be the closest of the counts.
4. There was a warning about the potential pitfalls of electronic election systems as a Pennsylvania voting machine was discovered to have been turning votes for Obama into ones for Romney. It is not yet known if this was the result of a hack or simply a software malfunction – but the error could have been catastrophic if it had not been confined to only a single machine.
5. Finally, some interesting images for those who are not US residents and have never seen up close how things look on US election night. Here is a nice gallery of images taken from a swing state on election night – and also some photos from the immediate aftermath of the result announcements in both camps.
Feel free to share any web-related gems you’ve unearthed from the election in the comments below. It’s yet another interesting aspect of what is anyway a fascinating global media spectacle, and will only become more so as technology and the web infiltrates ever more into the whole process.