New Media: How Technology Influences America Politics

Yesterday I wandered over to The Chapel on the campus of The University of Georgia to check out another great program. It's always impressed me how many great speakers, panels, and conferences come through Athens, Georgia. The university hosted panelists Senator Saxby Chambliss, Senator Ben Nelson, talk show host Neal Boortz, and Grady School Dean Dr. Cully Clark. University of Georgia President Dr. Michael Adams introduced the speakers to a crowd of local business leaders, faculty, and students. Senator Chambliss (R-GA), who heads up the Committee on Agriculture, cited a study that ranked him among the worst in the Senate for the adoption of media and technology. He thought that extensive "emailing and blackberry-ing" should have been taken into consideration.

All of the panelists agreed that the media revolution that we are experiencing is here to stay and that privacy is no longer a luxury afforded to anyone. "There is no space that I'm in that is not subject to digital representation...[the audience] is there, it won't go away." explains Clark. He, as well as other teachers at UGA, have noticed a significant uptick in the number of students using multimedia tools in the classroom such as laptops, smart phones, and tablets. Students can instantly post classroom comments to online platforms for hundreds of their friends to read. Boortz tells the audience that "There are no personal conversations anymore". However, this "live-tweeting" does have positives. The ability to communicate instantaneously allows everyone to be a reporter, fact-checking to keep teachers and politicians honest.

In Athens, we're lucky to be able to draw such distinguished speakers and generate tons of public interest that keeps them coming back. Athens, Georgia is a city that is dedicated to fostering creativity and innovation. I hope that the city and the university will continue to invite speakers here, opening up the lines of communication between residents.

Want to dive into discussion or hear some great speakers around town? Check out the Athens-Clarke County Library for weekly lectures and workshops or check out the UGA Master Calendar for upcoming events.