Internet the key to White House – Eric Schmidt, Google CEO
November 30th, 2006

Eric Schmidt told Republican Governors that the Internet was the key to next Presidential Election, according to an article in Zdnet.

Eric offered a few examples of how the Internet, especially video file-sharing sites like Google’s newly acquired YouTube, had changed the political landscape by enabling anyone to disseminate information widely and instantly.

A couple of examples were given in the Zdnet article that I was not fully aware of. I knew that US. Rep. John Murtha was running for a key position in the Democratic House – and somehow, that he was not popular enough (did not know why) till now:

Democratic U.S. Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania felt the sting when somebody resurrected secretly recorded footage taken during the FBI’s Abscam bribery investigation in the late 1970s. Murtha rejected a bribe offer from undercover agents dressed as Arab sheiks and was never charged during the investigation, but the video showed him telling the purported sheiks that “I want to deal with you guys awhile before I make any transactions.”

The footage was posted on YouTube and other Web sites just as Murtha was trying to persuade fellow Democratic representatives to elect him as their majority leader. He lost.

In other words, the skillful use of online video and audio footage can destroy or raise any one’s reputation within a couple of hours – that’s how powerful the Internet is.

In another well-publicized campaign incident, a videotape of Virginia Republican Sen. George Allen calling an opposition campaign worker of Indian descent “macaca” also spread quickly over the Internet. Allen went on to lose to Democrat Jim Webb.

I heard something about Google Earth Maps and the Gulf kingdom of Brhrain last weekend but did not have the details. Turns out that……

……Schmidt said the Gulf kingdom of Bahrain got a taste in the run-up to its elections last weekend, when someone used the Google Earth satellite mapping feature to photograph the ruling family’s lavish houses, and posted them on line, juxtaposed next to the homes of ordinary citizens.

The government tried to censor the photos, which instantly boosted their popularity, he said.

Now, the only thing I really question is why Eric Schmidt is telling this stuff to Republican Governors – isn’t he supposed to be neutral?

And, if anyone has been, overall, using these kind of techniques, to color people’s minds and affect their decision – right as they are ready to make one – it’s the Republicans. However, I don’t think any party really owns the Internet in terms of using it more skillfully.

Links: Zdnet

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