Digital election day one
So finally they're off, the date's been announced, and we can all get down to business. I'm talking of course about the UK's first digital election. Interestingly, the first day showed that many outside the Westminster village were more focused than the MPs were on what was still happening inside Parliament. But here's what caught my eye on the digital campaign trail.
Twitter, once everyone had settled down and agreed that #ge2010 was the right hashtag, was a hive of election activity. At first it was quite dull, with a lot of rather obvious cheerleading by MPs or party spinners. Then it came into its own as the place to watch for gaffes.
When David Cameron made his election speech about the "great ignored", Twitterers immediately spotted that the words "gay and straight" which had been in the press release about the speech had not actually been spoken. The Tories were quick to stress that the speech was being repeated through the day with those words included.
Later the blogger Guido Fawkes did some Twitter detective work to show that the joyful crowd greeting the prime minister at St Pancras station was actually made up of party supporters - one of them tweeted a picture describing it as a "Young Labour flash mob."
But away from the action on the social networks, the parties were concentrating on some rather less flashy new media techniques. It was e-mail which proved one of Barack Obama's most potent campaign weapons, and the UK parties are deploying it here.
The Conservatives told me in the morning they had what they believed was the biggest e-mail database in this election, enabling them to send their messages direct to nearly half a million people. They were quick off the mark yesterday sending out an e-mail with an embedded video of David Cameron addressing the Conservative troops. Labour says its e-mails are more targeted, typically reaching 20,000 people at a time.
Both parties have been keen to stress that all of those people had given permission to the party to contact them and could unsubscribe from the e-mails at any time. But I received messages from several people who claimed they'd received unsolicited political e-mails - the parties will have to be wary that they don't break the rules set out by the information commissioner a few weeks back.
And Google continues to be a battleground. The Conservatives have bought up 1,500 search terms over recent days, among them, "find my constituency", "polling station" and "mortgage rates". Voters searching for these terms will find adverts for the Tories among the sponsored links. But the Tories have competition - I searched for "general election" the other day and found an advert for UKIP. Labour tell me they are buying search terms too but I've struggled to find the evidence.
For all of the election talk on the social networks, another political topic got far more attention. The Commons debate on the Digital Economy Bill was sparsely attended but featured some passionate speeches which were heard by what may well have been a record online audience - at least to judge by the torrent of tweets about the proceedings.
The controversial bill, with its measures aimed at battling online piracy, got a second reading and looks like it will go through in the wash-up process. But the online storm whipped up by its opponents has not been completely in vain. I got the impression that the debate was a lot more thorough and carefully argued than it would have been before the advent of the social media.
Labour's Fiona Mactaggart and the Conservative John Redwood - a perhaps unlikely duo - united to explain just why parts of the bill were so misguided. The SNP's Pete Wishart, once a member of the Scottish band Runrig and apparently the first MP to have been on Top of the Pops, spoke with passion about the need to protect artists from those who would steal their music.
All of this drew a running commentary on Twitter, with a real sense that many people outside were connecting with the Parliamentary process for the first time - even if only to express anger that their views were not winning the day. Now if only the politicians on the campaign trail can inspire the same levels of digital engagement...