It’s no secret that Barack Obama revolutionized the political campaign. He used the internet and social media in a way that no candidate ever had before. And it paid off.

Previously, presidential candidates looked to corporations and wealthy individuals who could make $2,000+ contributions. This isn’t what Obama did. Instead, he reached out to regular people like us using tools like Facebook, Twitter and my.barackobama.com. By the end of the campaign, he had raised $122 million in individual contributions less than $200, making a record-setting total of $264.5 million. McCain raised $88.2 million.

Now that Obama has paved the way for online campaigns, there’s no going back. A candidate will never succeed without posting on a blog or communicating via Facebook. I’m not saying that Obama won solely because of his use of social media, but it certainly helped. Social networks allowed him to connect, literally, with millions of people that he wouldn’t have reached otherwise.

It will be interesting to see where we will go from here. Will these tools have as big of an impact once everyone is using them? Only time will tell. But anyone running for election in 2012 better put their thinking caps on – they have big virtual shoes to fill.

Advertisements

My friends from home booked their spring break flight to Barcelona in October. We had fairy tale fantasies about how absolutely amazing their week in Barca would be, and it was all we could talk about it. Now the week has come and gone, and it was amazing, but nothing ever goes quite according to plan.

Constancia, Laura, Sarah and McKenzie were supposed to get here on Friday, March 11, but flight delays and cancellations courtesy of American Airlines postponed their arrival until Sunday. Strike number 1. We surprised them at the airport, brought back their bags, and showed our jet-lagged friends around the city. We walked down Passeig de Gracia, through Placa Catalunya, on La Rambla and ended at the beach, where we stayed for most of the day. It was a great start, but it didn’t make up for the two days they missed.

We had big plans for the rest of the week, but the weather rained on our parade, literally. Strike number 2. It never rains in Barcelona. Before this week, it had rained five, maybe six days out of the more than 70 days we’ve been here. But this week it rained Monday, it rained Tuesday, it rained Wednesday AND it even rained a little bit on Thursday. We had fun, but it was hard to see a lot during the day when there was a monsoon outside.

Things turned around by Thursday afternoon, right as our friends from Florence arrived. We celebrated St. Patty’s Day, spent another day at the beach, saw the fountain light show and ate paella at La Fonda. Playing hostess to nine people was beyond stressful, but it was unreal to reunite with 17 of my best friends in Spain.

My teacher, Pipo Serrano, works for Catalunya Radio, and he took our class to visit the station last week. I imagined it to be a lot like NPR, but I was wrong. It kind of reminds me of the BBC, which doesn’t really have an American radio equivalent.

Catalunya Radio consists of four distinct stations: Catalunya Radio, Catalunya Música, Catalunya Informació and iCat fm. Música is obviously a music station, which concentrates on classical and contemporary music. Informació is Spain’s first all-news radio station, and iCat is a multimedia station promoting both traditional and contemporary culture.

Here’s a clip from Pipo’s show – Tot és molt confús. Sorry, it’s in catalan!

Last night was unlike anything I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. The parade in Barcelona was cool, but Carnival in Sitges was absolutely amazing.

Sitges is about 30 minutes outside of Barcelona, 25 miles south along the coast. We got to Sitges around 9:30 p.m., and the parade had already started. There were huge floats, and everyone was decked out in extravagant costumes and soo much glitter. It was the Barcelona parade on steroids.

The people in the parade weren’t the only ones dressed up, though. Every single person there was wearing the most elaborate costume I have ever seen. Halloween has nothing on Sitges Carnival. Some people were scary, some were funny, and a lot were in drag, but no one was in street clothes.

After the parade, everyone moved to the beach. Words can’t even describe what it was like to be there. There were probably half a million people, from the wall to the coast, from end to end. The DJs blared music and lights came and went over the crowd. I don’t think there was a single person there that wasn’t having the time of their life.

Worn out, we finally headed back to Barca around 4 a.m. Carnival was an experience to say the least.

My phone died last night, and it was the end of the world. I couldn’t meet up with my friends without being able to BBM them, and I couldn’t find my way around without my Google Maps app. I don’t know how people survived way back when.

In class a few weeks ago we talked about the “Information Society” that we live in, and I can’t even imagine living without it. This society depends on everyone, not just the mass media, to inform and disseminate information. All social actors appear as information emitters and receivers, so the more people that use it, the better it works.

It’s truly amazing how much technology has changed our lives. I’m on Google a thousand times a day, I download music from bittorrents and I share all my photos on Photobucket. And if I can’t use my phone for BBM, Twitter, Facebook, whatever, we have problems. Some people criticize my generation for being constantly “wired,” but honestly, I think it’s a great thing. Like I’ve said before, Twitter is one of my main sources of news. It’s never been easier to be informed or keep in touch. Anyone who doesn’t jump on this information bandwagon is going to find themselves left in the dust – we can only move forward from here.

This past Thursday was the beginning of Carnival, the Spanish version of Mardi Gras. This is their time to let loose before the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday. I had talked about Carnival in most of my classes, but I didn’t realize how big of a deal it was. The kids have a full week off from school, and you can find someone in costume at any point during the day.

Saturday night we went to the Gran Rua de Carnaval, or the Big Parade, on Parallel in Barcelona. I was definitely different than I expected. There were thousands of people lining the streets, and another couple thousand in the parade. Each “barrio” in Barcelona had people in the parade, often representing their native countries or something else they are known for. It was very entertaining, but I can’t wait to see how Sitges celebrates Carnival tomorrow night.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We have grown accustomed to multimedia accompanying our news. News organizations can’t get away with simply reciting the facts. We want charts, we want photos, we want videos. And now, a lot of online news websites are taking it a step further and producing full-blown multimedia stories. These are different than regular news stories because they are non-linear. You don’t have to read top to bottom, left to right. If you want to start with the text, you start with the text. If you want to watch an interview, you watch the interview. These stories are a lot more appealing to the eye and provide more varied information than traditional news stories.

Confused? Check out these multimedia stories to see for yourself:

Talking to the Taliban

Two Tours of Magnolia Plantation

My program took my group to Madrid for the weekend, and I don’t think I could have seen less. I didn’t make it inside Museo del Prado, or Palacio Real, or Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. But I did have an amazing time.

We took the train there, which I had never done before. Grace was feeling a little under the weather and ended up throwing up on the train. The toilet was filled with this nasty blue, fizzy disinfectant, which naturally ended up in little spots all over Grace’s face. One of the highlights of my day for sure.

Our train got in around noon, and after checking in at the hotel we went straight to 100 Montaditos, the place we were obsessed with in Sevilla. It was the first of three trips to this little sandwich place throughout the weekend. After lunch, we walked to Parque del Retiro, a huuuuge park in Madrid. We sat and people watched most of the afternoon, but it was a lot of fun.

The next day, we went back to 100 Montaditos and back to Retiro. We tried to explore, but it didn’t work out too well. The weather was beautiful, so we ended up sitting outside all day. I spent a lot of quality time with the park  last weekend.

Saturday night we met up with some of my friend Ryan’s friends and went to Kapital, the biggest club in Madrid. It was insane. There were people dancing on stage, lights everywhere, a woman who did an acrobatic act in the middle of the dance floor, breakdancers, and huge puffs of cold smoke shooting from the ceiling. It was nothing like anything I’ve ever experienced in Barcelona.

Sunday morning, before catching the train back to Barcelona, we found a new park to sit at and people watch. I’m not sure what it was called, but it was near Plaza Mayor. By 2 p.m. we were dead and ready to come back to Barca. I loved Madrid, but I’m still glad I call Barcelona home.

Can anyone be a journalist? With the recent explosion of “citizen journalism,” this question has been the center of many debates in my journalism classes at IU. Journalists defend journalism as a professional discipline, but the activity taking place in the blogosphere can’t be ignored.

Citizen journalism exploded with the terrorist attacks on 9/11 and has been propelled into the spotlight with events like the Hudson River plane crash. But are the people uploading this content really journalists?

CNN’s iReport is the closest these people have come to being “journalists.” iReport is a completely user-generated section of CNN.com, and the stories are not edited, fact-checked or screened. But holding the title of “journalist” requires a certain credibility that citizen journalists can’t claim. They make a meaningful contribution to society, but they will never completely replace those who study to work in the field.

I can’t cook. My meals in Barcelona have consisted of cereal, quesadillas, grilled cheese and pasta. But for Valentine’s Day, we decided to cook a real dinner for the first time in the 5 weeks since we arrived at Lepant 317.

Brittany’s mom gave her a recipe for pasta with artichoke sauce, which we attempted to make. Actually, Brittany attempted it, and Grace, Alexa and I watched. There was only one minor glitch – way too much salt in the sauce. Thanks to the Lepant-Open convenience store downstairs, we were able to throw a potato in the pot for a few minutes to soak it up and everything was fine. We also made appetizers – french bread with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and prosciutto.

I’m not usually a huge fan of Valentine’s Day, but this year’s wasn’t so bad. A few bottles of 1.99 Vina del Mar and great food made for a pretty successful night.