Thursday, January 26, 2012

Obama’s State of the Union Address Sees 760,000 Tweets / Where Was the Tech?

Twitter has released the official stats showing the activity of its users during President Obama’s State of the Union address on Tuesday, providing an interesting insight in how the Twittersphere reacted to various parts of the speech.

During the event, Twitter promoted five official hashtags: #jobs, #manufacturing, #energy, #education and #fairness. Unsurprisingly, those were among the hottest topics of the day, with #education being number one with 35,972 tweets.

The highlights of the event, in terms of Twitter traffic, were Obama’s mention of Steve Jobs, the part about energy and the President’s “Spilled Milk” line, which caused less than enthusiastic response from the listeners.

According to Twitter, the top tweeter on the Democrat side was Gabrielle Giffords. “Team: Last year, a seat for Rep. Giffords was left empty between Reps. Flake & Grijalva. This year, they sit beside her. #bipartisan,” shetweeted during the address.

The top tweeting republican was Aaron Schock, who tweeted: “The top 5% pay over 58% of all income taxes. These are job creators. Mr. President, when is it enough? #4jobs.”

We followed the event as it unfolded on Twitter, and you can now see Twitter’s official stats in the image below.

Did you tweet during the address? If so, what parts prompted you to take to Twitter? Tell us in the comments.


Barack Obama Where is the TechMashable OP-ED: This post reflects the opinions of the author and not necessarily those of Mashable as a publication.

From what I’ve heard, President Barack Obama is a bit of a gadget nerd. He likes his iPad and his BlackBerry, and fought to keep using the RIM device as he entered the White House in 2009.

Yet, as I listened to his State of the Union-cum-2012 presidential election stump speech, I was struck by the near total lack of digital name-checks in the almost hour-long address. It was very nearly a luddite speech for luddites.

“Technology” has three references, “High-Tech” four. Never mentioned: Social Networking, GoogleFacebookTwitter,Apple. Cyber threats (same as Cyber-Espionage in my book) got one passing reference:

“I’ve already sent this Congress legislation that will secure our country from the growing danger of cyber threats.”

Broadband Internet got one mention as part of a segment on America’s crumbling infrastructure:

“…an incomplete high-speed broadband network that prevents a small-business owner in rural America from selling her products all over the world.”

The Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) one of the biggest online hot-button issues of the last six months got nothing, unless you count this portion on China:

“It’s not right when another country lets our movies, music, and software be pirated.”

Listening to Obama, I thought he would segue from this to the complicated issues of piracy (foreign and domestic) and content ownership, No such luck.

“Jobs,” by contrast, got 37 mentions and only one of them was about Apple’s legendary founder:

“…we should support everyone who’s willing to work and every risk-taker and entrepreneur who aspires to become the next Steve Jobs.” It’s telling, though, that the President never mentioned the Cupertino company by name.

Obviously, the creation of American jobs is important to most Americans, and a tent-pole in the 2012 Obama Presidential Re-election Campaign. So I should not be surprised that it beat technology, digital and social by a country mile.

Still, it worries me that such a critical speech all but ignores how millions upon millions of us live our lives every day. Most of us are online 24/7, whether via our laptop and desktop or our tablet and smartphone. We do everything in the digital space and have real and valid concerns about how big companies and malefactors want to use our data.

“Data” by the way, did get a mention, but it was only, again, as it relates to jobs:

“Now you need to give more community colleges the resources they need to become community career centers, places that teach people skills that businesses are looking for right now, from data management to high-tech manufacturing.”

Obama seemed disinterested in the power and importance of social networks in everyday lives and how it’s changing the social, political and global landscape. This State of the Union was one of the most well-orchestrated social media events by an administration I have seen in years, yet not so much as a hat tip from our Tweeter in Chief.

If you were looking for “social” in the speech, you’ll only find it mentioned with “security,” as in “Social Security.”

I do credit President Obama with managing to squeeze in a mention of the need for “high-tech batteries” but it was folded into a broader push for renewable energy. Personally, I’d like to know which companies have “already positioned America to be the world’s leading manufacturer of high-tech batteries. “

This election-year State of the Union speech was, naturally, intended to lay the ground-work for the presidential campaign, but it was also about policy and getting things done. Are there no policy questions revolving around digital that need answering in the next 11 months?

How about issues such as the quiet emergence of ACTA or how unfettered access to social networks might be altering the way our country’s youth acts, reacts and matures? What about mega online networks and growing privacy concerns? Americans worry daily about who knows what about their online activities, but it’s not an issue for the President?

President Obama has, over the years, met with numerous tech luminaries and he has (or at least his campaign has) joined numerous social networks, including Google+ and Foursquare.

So was it too much to expect a little more recognition in the State of the Union speech that we live in the digital age; that there are some important questions that need answering and that maybe, just maybe, this Administration still wants to help answer them?

I encourage you to read the transcript of the President’s speech and tell me in the comments if it isn’t true that much of it could have been delivered by any President who occupied the White House long before the advent of tablets, smartphones, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, Google and Twitter.

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