The political process has felt like more of a spectator sport than a interactive process, especially national politics. But technology and social media has helped people access their candidates and offer up questions for the politicians looking to take or maintain their hold in office.
In recent months, political speeches and debates have been held on social media forum sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn -- allowing people to post question, follow candidates and comment on the progress of speeches.
The latest addition to the social media integration in our political system is a Quora Q&A forum created for the U.S. State of the Union speech Tuesday.
Quora set up a special page where, up until 5 p.m. P.S.T., Quora users can post questions for President Obama to answer in his speech and for White House representatives to respond to in coming days.
Quora exec Marc Bodnick said that the White House promised will answer questions on the site that are approved by the company this week.
At its essence, Quora is a place where experts answer questions to your questions, for free and often, from multiple source.
Quora will also live-stream video of Obama’s address at 6 p.m. P.S.T. on Tuesday.
Obama's social media presence
Barack Obama has been growing his executive office's online footprint in the last few months, adding to his YouTube channel, Facebook profile and Twitter by adding a Google+ page, joining Instagram and getting Michelle Obama tweeting this year.
The White House also has an amazing Flickr site with updated photos and comments everyday -- a great resource to see just what is happening with the First Family on a day to day basis
Quora is a relatively small site in the world of hundreds of millions of users on Facebook and Twitter -- the company has half a million monthly U.S. visitors, according to Quantcast.
Quora started as a Q&A service by early Facebook staff and has recently added more Web curation tools. The new tool, Quora Boards is a social bookmarking tool that lets users save posts across the Web -- similar to Pinterest.
"We are inviting people to post and follow the questions we should ask on the event page," said Quora Executive Marc Bodnich in a Quora blog post.
Users can follow the whole State of the Union thread or specific questions that spark there interest.
At the end of the month the White House is even offering people to pose video questions through his YouTube channel. Then the answers will be posted in a special interview with the President directly in a Google+ Hangout
On Monday, January 30, a few days after delivering his State of the Union address to the nation, President Obama will answer a selection of top-voted questions submitted in a live-streamed interview.
This year, social media will be an even more central peg in the political process as people see how many followers a candidate gains and what the overall sentiment people are posting about the races.
One news community Web meeting place that is making some changes because of the 2012 political process is Topix. I caught up with the company CEO, Chris Tolles, and he explained just how much interest there is on the Web to talk about and see what the pulse of the nation is on the Presidential campaign topics.
With 10 million uniques visitors monthly, Topix is looking to not just organize information about local communities, but also cover topics of national interest so that people can look at polls and comments people are making everywhere.
"We built our site on the desire people have to get hyper-local news that matters most to them," said Tolles. "But there are some topics that impact and excite people across the nation and we want to meld our products to reflect that as well."
Some of the most popular and quick snapshots of the country interests on Topix are the maps that reflect the polls that people on the site can respond and comment to continue discussion.
The growing social aspect of political campaigns and news coverage has also opened greater opportunities for campaigners to communicate and advertise on sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn since each company now has political advertising branches to help coordinate this specific interest.
And since so much of the political discussion is sensational and ever-changing, what better medium than social networks to host such connections and sharing.
"People want to see the zeitgeist," said Tolles. "And what Topix and other services are doing is making it easier to have these discussions and visualize just what this means, nationally."