This past weekend, the Minnesota DFL and the Republican Party of Minnesota both held their election year state conventions. The DFL's convention was in Duluth, with Republicans meeting 200 miles away in Rochester. The Republicans had more contested endorsements, so I hit the road and traveled to Rochester to observe the convention.

This was the 17th state convention (both DFL and Republican) I have attended during the last 20 years. Inside the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, all of the elements for a political convention were present: candidates, staffers, volunteers, stickers, signs, balloons, and fireworks. Republicans unveiled a t-shirt launcher, which fired t-shirts into the crowd of attendees. There were a few close calls, but I'm sure the t-shirt launcher will make an appearance at future conventions.

Aside from the launching of t-shirts, the biggest change at state conventions this year was the use of social media. Information moved at lightening speed and every aspect of the convention was reported. The Star Tribune's top political reporters at both the DFL and Republican conventions live-blogged, tweeted and posted pictures and videos about every development, providing real-time analysis and information. Even a snake "slithering" on the sidewalk outside the convention hall wasn't missed.

It was fascinating to not only watch the political developments unfold, but also to see how information was shared with delegates and by the media. The convention wasn't playing out just on the stage, but also on social media. The details of every vote cast at the convention were transmitted, usually in 140 characters or less. The biggest developments at the convention were reported on social media, sometimes before information was shared with those participating.

If you were not attending the conventions in Duluth or Rochester, a quick scan of Twitter would give you all the information you needed to learn about the events of the day. Information is power and reporters covering the conventions did a wonderful job of empowering people with informtion. Oh, by the way: the snake looks creepy.