Hidden within this Google-driven story sits a nugget of information regarding Barack Obama's digital campaign. (The story itself is well worth the read, by the way.)
Positioning himself as a fresh alternative to established Democratic Party favorites such as Clinton, Obama has relied heavily on social-networking tools, such as YouTube and Facebook as well as his own campaign's Web site to post--as well as solicit--policy ideas from supporters. Obama has more members on YouTube (7,000), the user-generated video-content site Google purchased last year for $1.65 billion, than any other Democratic candidate. So far, he told the Googlers, he had collected 15,000 ideas from online visitors on subjects from health care to American's image around the world. As president, Obama promised, he would establish a Google-like search engine for government spending that would allow citizens to "track grants, earmarks and government contracts, so that you can review and offer suggestions before it is signed."It says something when even Newsweek is using friend counts as statistical evidence for reporting.
While YouTube member counts might not be the first place I'd turn - Facebook seems a bit more logical for social status measurements - I'm pleasured to see Newsweek using this sort of information. The stats might not provide solid defense for every argument, but using the numbers and referencing these sites shows Newsweek's ability to keep its fingers on the pulse of young society.