Esteemed journalist Fareed Zakaria and Executive Chairman of Google Eric Schmidt will speak at 8 p.m. tonight in Santa Barbara’s Arlington Theatre to discuss social media’s influence on politics and government.

Zakaria, host of CNN’s international affairs program “Fareed Zakaria GPS,” served as an editor for Newsweek International and has contributed articles to a variety of publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and TIME. Schmidt, a former member of Apple Inc.’s board of directors, served as the CEO of Google for 10 years and currently sits on President Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology.

The speakers will comment on information technology’s role in influencing recent domestic and international events. Tickets are $16 for UCSB students and $33 for general admission.

During the American Society of News Editors’ 2010 Ideas Summit, Schmidt said Obama’s presidential campaign demonstrates the benefits of using social media tools in the political arena.

“I think if you look at the Obama campaign versus the Obama presidency, you see a very good example of how the social world can be used to affect political change,” Schmidt said at the summit. “Before, when he was a challenger to Secretary Clinton, he used the Internet to raise his profile. He did so very cleverly and got himself organized.”

Zakaria, author of numerous bestsellers including The Post-American World, published a CNN article last Friday addressing society’s inclination to believe conspiracy theories and responded to readers’ comments via Facebook and Twitter.

Third-year economics major Rebecca Mnayarji said the experts will foster a discussion pertinent to students’ lives.

“They’re both extremely respected in each of their fields,” Mnayarji said. “I think that social media is such a basic part of our lives now, especially our generation. Traditional media itself has gotten even more interactive with live tweets, reading comments from viewers at home in news broadcasts and YouTube debates.”