Not long ago, Barack Obama texted me to let me know he’d be on The Daily Show that night, chatting with Jon Stewart. He thought I might want to check it out. This wasn’t unusual. Barack texts me all the time. To let me know where he’s going to be the next day. To hook me up with friends. A lot of times, to try and bum money.
Obama’s great innovation (emulated, with only limited effectiveness, by Hillary Clinton) has been to use technology—particularly the Web 2.0 social-networking model—to connect, organize, and inspire vast new swaths of voters, in the process amassing more campaign money than anyone in U.S. history. As a result, future presidential campaigns will resemble Obama’s more than Bill Clinton’s or George W. Bush’s. Downloadable Obama ringtones may still seem like a novelty today. But by the time the next batch of presidential hopefuls kick off their campaigns (in, what, about six months?), you can bet they’ll feature their own.