You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

[Backchannel] Why Seattle's 'Debate 2.0' Never Happened

BY Diane Douglas | Thursday, March 7 2013

In this post for Backchannel, our ongoing series of contributions from practitioners and close observers at the intersection of technology and politics, Seattle's Diane Douglas goes behind the scenes to explain why last year's effort by civic activists to reinvent Washington state's gubernatorial debates came crashing to the ground. Read More

A Computer Made These Eerily Human Portraits From the Last Presidential Debate

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, October 16 2012

Among the millions of eyes expected to turn to tonight's presidential debate between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney will be the cycloptic gaze of a single mechanical painter, a computer placed in front of a television set with the job of sketching what it sees like a courtroom artist. The tools of its trade are "particle brushes," programs repurposed from an earlier life helping to draw explosions in video games.

"It's not really a robot artist but this is basically a computer and it takes those brushes and tries to render the image," explained Don Relyea, the computer programmer, artist and designer whose automated creation is expected to watch the debates tonight. It was at work painting the last debate, and Relyea has released a complete set of eerily human portraits from that night created without any human intervention.

Read More

The SEIU's New Tool to Influence Post-Debate Conversation

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, October 15 2012

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: The SEIU had been testing social media analytics tool Attentive.ly for a few months, but was able to fully test its functionality for the first time during the last presidential debate. The union plans to use it again during the upcoming debate to identify potential advocates to reach out to with a targeted email campaign. Read More

Who Controls the Presidential Debates? Journalists or the Campaigns?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, October 15 2012

Photo: Don Relyea / Flickr

CNN's Candy Crowley, the moderator of the second presidential debate, which is structured like a "town-hall" meeting, has been saying publicly that she is looking forward to asking follow-ups of the candidates after they respond to questions from the audience, but both campaigns are reportedly pressing the debate commission to keep her from doing so, per their secret agreement governing the debates. Last week, in the course of an interview about how the commission was (or wasn't) making use of the internet's two-way nature, commission co-chair Mike McCurry told techPresident that Crowley would have "full editorial control" including the latitude to include her own follow-up queries. Now, with some details of the actual agreement between the campaigns coming out, he takes that back. Which leaves us asking: who really is in control here, journalists or the campaigns? Read More

How People in Brooklyn "Dual-Screened" the Vice Presidential Debate

BY Nick Judd | Friday, October 12 2012

Someone threw tomatoes at Joe Biden last night. The ruby fruit wasn't real — it was a digital missile lobbed through Tomatovision, an extracurricular project by a team from Huffington Post Labs. Over two weekends, the crew built a website to host a live video stream of the debate, along with the option to launch up to three virtual tomatoes in response to any line the viewer dislikes. A mobile application and mobile website offer the chance to control the tomatoes remotely while watching a bigger screen. Whenever any user, anywhere, threw a tomato, everyone tuned in to tomatovision.com saw it land — creating, in a goofy way, a new community around the debate for the small contingent of mostly younger people who are experiencing these events across two screens. Read More

Presidential Debates Commission Hasn't Used the Web Well, Co-Chair Admits

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, October 8 2012

While an estimated 67 million Americans watched the first Obama-Romney presidential debate last week, so far just 2,790 people have bothered to share their views about the top issues facing the country on the online platform that the Commission on Presidential Debates built to enable members of the public to "share their voice." That is to say, "The Voice Of…" internet initiative touted by the CPD as providing "unprecedented access for citizens to participate in [the national] conversation," with the support of AOL, Google and Yahoo!, is essentially a dud. And Mike McCurry, one of the commission's two national co-chairs and a former press secretary to President Clinton, knows it.

"We have a lot more work to do," he told me this morning in an interview. Read More

For the Campaigns, Online Debate Response is All About Mobile

BY Nick Judd | Wednesday, October 3 2012

The Obama and Romney campaigns will be trying to reach supporters through mobile devices tonight to talk about this evening's presidential debate, and for good reason.

Half of all Americans have Internet access through a tablet or a smartphone, according to data released Monday by Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and The Economist Group. It doesn't matter whether someone is watching the debate on home television, at a computer or in a bar — there's a fifty-fifty chance that any debate viewer has an Internet-ready second screen.

Read More

Yahoo! Unveils Interactive "The Voice Of..." Debate Dashboard

BY Micah L. Sifry | Tuesday, October 2 2012

Screenshot of "The Voice Of..." landing page on Yahoo!

Finally, a day before the first presidential debate, Yahoo! has pulled back the curtain on the Commission on Presidential Debates' "The Voice Of…" online dashboard. It's fun to play with, but scarcely a meaningful way to actually share your voice. Read More

[Editorial] Presidential Debates Commission Keeps the Internet Bottled Up

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, October 1 2012

Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard M. Nixon during the first televised U.S. presidential debate in 1960.

The American presidential debates are one of the last great institutions of the era of broadcast politics, and arguably the one that has changed the least since the rise of the Internet, despite public demands for greater participation and transparency. With the first head-to-head appearance of President Obama and Governor Romney coming this Wednesday night in Denver, the web is gearing up to join in the conversation. Unfortunately, despite some nice words come out of the Commission on Presidential Debates and the announcement of a "new digital coalition" with AOL, Google and Yahoo! participating, there's no sign that the debates are going to change one iota from their traditional form. Read More

[BackChannel] Beyond Media Spectacles: Debates as Conversations

BY Mike Mathieu | Wednesday, May 16 2012

In this post for Backchannel, our ongoing conversation between practitioners and close observers at the intersection of technology and politics, Mike Mathieu of The Seattle Center Next 50 Debate 2.0 Committee describes an effort in Washington State to reinvent political debate for the 21st century. Read More