LOS ANGELES -- From YouTube to Flickr, from Facebook to Twitter, images and sentiments from celebrations across the nation flooded into the Internet's media-sharing sites, just moments after Barack Obama clinched the presidential election.
Some were simple photos of TV screens claiming the Democrat's win. Others were unfiltered images of jubilant celebrations captured immediately after polls closed Tuesday on the West Coast, when Obama was declared the president-elect.
And while crowds gathered at public rallies and millions of others simply glued themselves to television news coverage, many spent election night online — and they had plenty of company. Students at Navarro College posted a video of themselves reacting — screaming, jumping up and down, more screaming — to Obama's win. Another YouTuber uploaded his toast to Obama: He gulped a 2-liter bottle of soda.
Others used the moment to joke. One wig-clad man posted a YouTube video reminiscent of Chris Crocker's infamous Britney Spears rant, instead shouting "Leave McCain alone!" in front of a sheet. Some shared impromptu songs about the election's outcome. One man at a piano sang: "You all wanted change/And that's what you're gonna get/But the change that you will see/You will most likely regret."
Elsewhere, dozens of Obama supporters clapped, danced and cheered inside the behemoth virtual world Second Life immediately after the Democratic nominee seized the electoral votes. Many avatars were left out of the virtual celebration in Obama's unofficial Second Life headquarters because the digital enclave had reached maximum capacity Tuesday.
"The long nightmare is OVER!" an avatar named Jordanna Beaumont exclaimed.
The Straight Talk Cafe, a Second Life space supporting John McCain, was nearly a ghost town after McCain conceded the race. Volunteers for both campaigns had unofficially stumped for months inside the virtual world for the presidential and vice presidential candidates — collecting donations, registering voters, building monuments and handing out virtual hats and T-shirts.
Throughout the election, the nonpartisan site TwitterVoteReport.com aggregated micro-blog Twitter.com posts — called tweets — to monitor polling places and estimate voting wait times across the country. Into the evening, many people tweeted 140-characters-or-less dispatches from rallies, election parties and their living rooms using their cellphones and the Web.
"There were news people from all over the world at the Biltmore tonight," posted luv2shoppe in Phoenix, where McCain's camp was watching the returns. "It was quite an experience, even if the results were disappointing."
"Four blocks from Grant Park in Chicago," posted jordanlevy. "It's crazy down here."
Even Obama himself, whose campaign embraced the power of online networking going back to his primary race against Hillary Clinton, nodded to his tech-savvy supporters in the very moments before he took the stage in Chicago for his acceptance speech: Supporters who had signed up on his campaign website received an e-mail thanking them.
Those who were logged on at that moment got this message: "I'm about to head to Grant Park to talk to everyone gathered there, but I wanted to write to you first. We just made history. And I don't want you to forget how we did it. You made history every single day during this campaign — every day you knocked on doors, made a donation, or talked to your family, friends and neighbors about why you believe it's time for change."
Bloggers who had been posting about the election results in real time kept their comments brief after Obama's win. Liberal blogger Sara K. Smith at Wonkette.com, who kept a snarky eye on the proceedings, instructed readers to "raise a glass to your Republican friends because it was not so long ago that you (liberals) were precisely in their position, and remember how much it sucked."
Conservative bloggers also kept their reactions concise and polite. Carol Platt Liebau at Townhall.com posted: "We are Americans first, and therefore I wish the Obamas health and happiness. It's even possible to wish them success — so long as it is in keeping with the best traditions of American liberty, virtue and prosperity."
Not everyone was as cordial. At some point Tuesday night on John McCain's Wikipedia page, a racial slur was joined with an expletive and splashed across the screen in giant red letters. The word was quickly removed from the page and no longer appeared Wednesday morning.
And while Sarah Palin may not have won the vice presidential spot, she was popular as a doll. Out of the four one-of-kind Cabbage Patch Dolls crafted to look like the presidential and vice presidential candidates, her doll nabbed a $19,000 bid when the online auction closed Tuesday. The lil' Obama, McCain and Biden impersonators only earned offers of $8,400, $6,000 and $3,500, respectively.