Jane Wagner

Technologically-Informed Voters

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As Americans, we collectively know what we want and when we want it. (Now). Whether it be our packages purchased through online shopping, the weather or election results, we want it immediately. On top of that, we want to do as little work as possible to reach the goal. Both of these things play into our passionate love affair with mobile apps. The phrase “there’s an app for that” in today’s world can literally and figuratively apply to just about any aspect of our everyday lives.

It only makes sense that major publications would partner with developers to create an instantaneous view of the U.S. election results. This concept is not new for the 2016 election. Dating all the way back to the application stone age of 2008, developers have been working towards a fluid, real-time application to showcase Americans exercising their constitutional duties. The 2008 election was the first glimpse at this new type of technology. The iPhone Election App was a very primitive, bare-bones application displaying results from general polls.

Moving onto the 2012 election, the first election I personally followed and voted in, was the first connection between the old-school political world and the new-age technology realm. Obama was the first candidate to successfully utilize social media in his campaign. He had his own app created so his supporters could join every step of his campaign, and gauge the overall success of his efforts. Romney followed suit, but an epic in-app misspelling may have done more damage than good. Polling and fact-checking apps also emerged during this time, but the four years between the previous and current elections have showcased just how technologically-advanced we’ve become.

The Boston Globe has promoted a very successful, as-close-to-real-time-as-possible 2016 election app. In the few weeks that primaries have been held, The Globe has had amazing success and great feedback from its users. By knocking the auto-refresh time down to just 15 seconds, us lazy Americans can have our cake and eat it too. We can have the app up on our phone while mindlessly surfing the web on the computers perched on our laps. We don’t even have to think to pull down the page to refresh; The Globe has us covered. It’s no question that this app has been successful.

By providing a very simplistic, straightforward look at the real-time results, this app has everything any average, somewhat-informed American could ask for. By linking screenshots from the app to pieces written for the web and promoted across social media, The Boston Globe paved the way for all other publications to promote the election. They have given us what we want, when we want it. This platform excites me for future elections; the more options we have to follow along, the more effort we as a society will put into being informed on what really matters. We have always been working toward a completely informed society, and this seems to be a major leap in the right direction.

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