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The First Netizen-Powered E-Debate

BY Joshua Levy | Monday, October 2 2006

The upcoming gubernatorial debate in Minnesota will run from October 9th to 19th. That's right, a ten-day long debate, made possible through the magic of citizen-powered media.

The Minnesota Gubernatorial E-Debate will take cues from YouTube and and MySpace in its incorporation of citizen participation and media. And every gubernatorial candidate -- from Republican Governor Tim Pawlenty to Walt Brown of the Quit Raising Taxes Party -- has agreed to participate.

Citizens are encouraged to email questions to the debate's organizers, E-Democracy.org. Those questions will be boiled down to ten short-answer questions and organized by four major themes. Candidates will then respond to the questions online over the course of the debate. It can be tracked at the E-Debates home page or by signing up for email updates.

It's not only about email, though. According to Steven Clift, the E-Debates host and board chair of E-Democracy.org,

Minnesotans can participate directly in the gubernatorial campaigns by using the Internet - including video, audio, pictures, and plain texts - to submit questions and share their views with candidates and fellow citizens.

This decidedly flashier component of the project is called Voter Voices. The site aggregates YouTube videos, Flickr pictures, del.icio.us links, and other "netizen-generated content" that is tagged "mnpolitics," "mn06," or "minnesota politics." So if you have a video or photo of one of the candidates soapboxing, upload it to YouTube or Flickr and tag it with "mnpolitics" and it will show up on Voter Voices. It's a fairly simple yet powerful concept, a sign that the organizers of the e-debate understand the potential of the citizen-powered web.

If you live in Minnesota, you can send your debate questions to e-debates@e-democracy.org.

More information about the event can be found, appropriately, at the Minnesota Gubernatorial E-Debate wiki.

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