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Internet Survives Election!

Among last night's surprises, you can count this one: Some of the Internet's most popular sites avoided melting down.

After we'd had a good two years to get used to following every twist in this long campaign online--news stories, blog posts, YouTube clips, photo galleries, Twitter updates, Facebook comments and so on. I expected that millions of people would rush to the Web to engage in the digital equivalents of a) jumping up and down and pouring champagne on each other or b) punching the locker-room wall. And I had no doubt that many of these Web destinations would crumple on the big day, much as they have during other, less significant news events.

Somehow, that didn't happen. Twitter responded as usual the entire night (though it apparently had issues publishing updates sent from mobile phones), and Facebook stayed its normal self as well. (My colleague Sara Goo, however, couldn't log into the site at one point last night.) I didn't see any major news sites or blogs conk out either, aside from a few slow-loading animated election maps.

(The paper edition of this morning's Post, however, seems to have sold out. It's nice to see that some events still warrant keeping a copy of the front page!)

The only real exceptions to this fortunate pattern were a few state-government sites that couldn't cope with so many people looking up election results. Virginia's State Board of Elections results pages, for example, often required repeated hits of the "refresh" key to get the latest returns to appear, and I had the same problem at times with California's election-results site. (Not that I'm asking any states to spend extra taxpayer dollars preparing for such an unusual scenario; sometimes there's nothing to be done about this kind of problem... if you can call unprecedented interest by citizens in their vote a "problem.")

How did you follow yesterday's extraordinary news online?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  November 5, 2008; 11:26 AM ET
Categories:  Digital culture , The Web  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Google Maps' Street View Comes to D.C.
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I watched CNN, BBC, ABC and NBC on tv while connecting with friends and family via email and Facebook. Friends popped virtual champagne corks on Facebook and Twitter.

A teenaged cousin in France was so excited about the American election that she got up in the middle of the night her time to post updates and carry on conversations with me on her Facebook wall.

Having lived through the fifties and sixties, I can't express what it's like to see the light of this new day for America. And the technology enabled me to share it all instantly, reinforcing the feeling that we truly are one planet and one family.

Posted by: LAD1 | November 5, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

I kept expecting to go down at any minute. Simply the rate at which I was refreshing should have been enough to take down a server, not to mention the millions of other people tuned in.

I was flipping feverishly back and forth between (in two different windows, watching Presidential and Congressional races), Facebook, e-mail, and blogs from 8pm-11pm last night. And all while sitting in front of MSNBC or CNN at various times.

I was personally astonished at the amount of information available to me at any given time.

Posted by: docmcconl | November 5, 2008 5:36 PM | Report abuse

When I first heard that the tv and radio networks would be giving early east coast results, visions of Jimmy Carter's early 1980 concession speech and later slack voting on the West Coast ensued. Then a light bulb went off. Americans were using a wide variety of media, mass, internet, etc to follow the election. So early data releases were no big deal. The landscape HAS changed, and on this count, for the better.

Posted by: featheredge9 | November 6, 2008 3:40 PM | Report abuse

As carefully as possible !!! LOL

Posted by: | November 7, 2008 4:44 AM | Report abuse

If anything was going to bring down the internet, I'd have thought it would be the Obama email blitz. After an innocent inquiry email to the campaign, I received a daily avalanche from Barack, Michelle, Joe, and innumerable staff (I'm on a first name basis with all of them!) about everything except the weather. To its credit, the emails competely stopped Nov 4 with a final thoughtful thank you from Barack before he headed over to Grant Park.

Posted by: internet2k4 | November 9, 2008 4:04 PM | Report abuse

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