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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.

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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

Online, Next Presidential Debate Will Feature a Moderator that Wasn't

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, October 11 2012

If you've submitted a question to the Commission on Presidential Debates via the Google Moderator website for the October 16, don't be surprised when nothing happens. Here's the inside scoop on the latest bit of political vaporware to come from the mysterious place where national political organizations, the media and tech company marketing divisions meet. Read More

In Virginia, City Council Debates to Include Questions Posed Online

BY Miranda Neubauer | Monday, May 21 2012

The Alexandria Democratic Party in Alexandria, Virginia has partnered with online civic engagement platform ACTion Alexandria to include questions solicited in an online forum in the final Democratic primary debate for a City Council election there on June 4, ahead of the June 12 election, according to a statement released by the group. ACTion Alexandria hopes to work with both parties during the general election.

Participants in the project can add questions to the forum, or vote on questions that have already been posed, although each user is only given three votes to distribute. Users are also encouraged to use their real names. Questions submitted so far hit on topics ranging from broadband access to a ban on food trucks in the city.

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New Google+ Project Promises Public Policy Debates With a Celebrity Twist

BY Miranda Neubauer | Thursday, March 1 2012

On March 13, Virgin Group magnate Richard Branson, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and actor Russell Brand will be among the guests in an upcoming debate on the war on drugs — using a Google + Hangout. The Hangout — a video chat on Google's social network that can host up to 10 participants at a time — will be live-streamed on YouTube. It's the first in what Google promises will be a series of debates on social and political issues, called Versus, that will use the platform. Read More

Fox News' #Dodge #Answer Feedback Loop Flops In #IowaDebate

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, December 15 2011

The idea of inviting people to use tags like #dodge and #answer is a good one, and maybe if someone (Twitter?) runs the data afterwards they'll be able to tell us what the viewers were saying about particular responses by particular candidates. But in real-time, as displayed by Fox online, this information isn't usable. Read More

Letting the Audience Talk Back to the Candidates: What You Missed At Last Saturday's Presidential Debate [UPDATED]

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, December 15 2011

As you settle in to watch tonight's episode of "Survivor: Republican Presidential Candidate Edition," which will be airing on Fox News at 9pm with the quaint-sounding title, "Iowa Debate," it's worth taking a look at one feature of last Saturday's episode of the series that didn't get much attention. That program, which was aired on ABC News, included an interactive real-time feedback feature produced by Yahoo News that -- for the first time, ever -- not only invited viewers to respond to the show while it was underway, but managed to push a smidgen of that audience feedback back into the live program, where it potentially could have influenced the conversation. That is, the people who used to be called the audience were actually given a chance to talk back to a television show, by the show itself. Read More

Tracking Twitter Reactions to the CNN/Tea Party Republican Debates

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, September 13 2011

The post-debate spin room has moved online, with reporters looking to Twitter for reactions as much as to their usual bullpen of consultants and observers, and candidates taking jabs at one another in real time. All of ... Read More

Facebook and NBC To Co-Host a Republican Primary Debate

BY Nick Judd | Monday, July 18 2011

NBC News and Facebook will co-host a Republican presidential debate in advance of the New Hampshire Republican primary in 2012, Meet the Press moderator David Gregory announced in a video on the Meet the Press Facebook ... Read More

10Questions.com: Putting Voters in the Driver's Seat in 2010

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, August 4 2010

Three years ago, we had a modest idea here at Personal Democracy Forum: that the internet could be a vehicle for transforming the presidential debates then underway. Instead of relying solely on journalists to determine ... Read More

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