Lee RainieIn 2004, political campaigns and the press buzzed over “blogging”; in 2008, the technology of the moment was YouTube, providing CNN with debate questions and at least one candidate with a one-way ticket home.

For 2012, predicts Lee Rainie, founder and director of Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, smartphones and mobile “apps” will take the spotlight, and dramatically change American elections forever. Rainie spoke today with Christopher Kenneally, host of CCC’s Beyond the Book podcast, on the occasion of the publication of a groundbreaking survey, “The Rise of Apps Culture.”

“The rise of mobile connectivity and its meaning to people is just beginning to wash through the culture in interesting ways,” Rainie said. “We’re going to get a road test of the 2012 election this year. We will see interesting mobile apps emerge in the mid-term elections that will then become something that is part of the standard playbook of every political consultant, every political actor, and then develops more richly for the 2012 environment.”

For the “Beyond the Book” interview, Rainie also highlighted findings of the Pew survey. He noted that “35% of U.S. adults have software applications or ‘apps’ on their phones, yet only 24% of adults use those apps. Among cell phone users with apps, the average adult has 18 apps on his or her phone. Some 18% of cell phone users with apps on their phones do not know how many they have.”

The full report became available today from the Pew Center’s Internet & American Life Project

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