Personal Democracy Plus Our premium content network. LEARN MORE You are not logged in. LOG IN NOW >

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 offers three options: "explore the issues," "voice your view," and "watch the debates."

Of these, obviously the second one has the potential to be the most interesting. After you sign in, you are offered the opportunity to take a short series of multiple choice questions and share where you on topics like health care, energy, regulation, education, foreign affairs, terrorism jobs, taxes and federal spending. Then the app plugs your data into a bunch of bubbles, so you can see how you compare to other participants in the aggregate. A dynamic counter also show, in total, how many people have "shared their voice."

This is fun to play with, but falls short of even the modest experiments in real-time audience participation and feedback that we saw during some of the presidential primary debates. Back then some moderators voiced questions that were submitted online and in a few cases the audience was not only given the ability to judge, in real time, whether candidates actually answered the moderators' questions, those cumulative judgments were pumped back into the live conversation, suggesting a new way to hold candidates' feet to the fire.

To most people, "sharing your voice" means getting a sense that you are actually being listened to. "The Voice Of…" basically creates a new kind of online poll, but not anything like a digitally networked conversation.

Of course, as I wrote here yesterday, it's naive to expect the CPD to do much more when it is essentially a handmaiden to the two major campaigns and the secret contract their lawyers hammer out governing the conduct of the debates. If in 2004 the CPD was willing to enforce a rule preventing participants in the "town-hall style" debate from asking follow-up questions or even offering non-verbal responses, why should we expect anything more genuinely interactive now?

Transparency and Public Shaming: Pakistan Tackles Tax Evasion

In Pakistan, where only one in 200 citizens files their income tax return, authorities published a directory of taxpayers' details for the first time. Officials explained the decision as an attempt to shame defaulters into paying up.

GO

wednesday >

Facebook Seeks Approval as Financial Service in Ireland. Is the Developing World Next?

On April 13 the Financial Times reported that Facebook is only weeks away from being approved as a financial service in Ireland. Is this foray into e-money motivated by Facebook's desire to conquer the developing world before other corporate Internet giants do? Maybe.

GO

The Rise and Fall of Iran's “Blogestan”

The robust community of Iranian bloggers—sometimes nicknamed “Blogestan”—has shrunk since its heyday between 2002 – 2010. “Whither Blogestan,” a recent report from the University of Pennsylvania's Iran Media Program sought to find out how and why. The researchers performed a web crawling analysis of Blogestan, survey 165 Persian blog users, and conducted 20 interviews with influential bloggers in the Persian community. They found multiple causes of the decline in blogging, including increased social media use and interference from authorities.

GO

tuesday >

Weekly Readings: What the Govt Wants to Know

A roundup of interesting reads and stories from around the web. GO

Russia to Treat Bloggers Like Mass Media Because "the F*cking Journalists Won't Stop Writing"

The worldwide debate over who is and who isn't a journalist has raged since digital media made it much easier for citizen journalists and other “amateurs” to compete with the big guys. In the United States, journalists are entitled to certain protections under the law, such as the right to confidential sources. As such, many argue that blogging should qualify as journalism because independent writers deserve the same legal protections as corporate employees. In Russia, however, earning a place equal to mass media means additional regulations and obligations, which some say will lead to the repression of free speech.

GO

Politics for People: Demanding Transparent and Ethical Lobbying in the EU

Today the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) launched a campaign called Politics for People that asks candidates for the European Parliament to pledge to stand up to secretive industry lobbyists and to advocate for transparency. The Politics for People website connects voters with information about their MEP candidates and encourages them to reach out on Facebook, Twitter or by email to ask them to sign the pledge.

GO

monday >

Security Agencies Given Full Access to Telecom Data Even Though "All Lebanese Can Not Be Suspects"

In late March, Lebanese government ministers granted security agencies unrestricted access to telecommunications data in spite of some ministers objections that it violates privacy rights. Global Voices reports that the policy violates Lebanon's existing surveillance and privacy law, Law 140, but has gotten little coverage from the country's mainstream media.

GO

More