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?

News Briefs

RSS Feed thursday >

First POST: System-Gaming

Why techies interested in political reform are facing challenges; the latest data on Democratic voter contacts in 2014; Hungary's anti-Internet tax demonstrations are getting huge; and much, much more. GO

wednesday >

First POST: Gimme Shelter

The link between intimate partner violence and surveillance tech; the operational security set-up that connected Laura Poitras, Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden; how Senate Dems are counting on tech to hold their majority; and much, much more. GO

tuesday >

First POST: Tribes

Edward Snowden on the Internet's impact on political polarization; trying to discern Hillary Clinton's position on NSA reform; why Microsoft is bullish on civic tech; and much, much more GO

monday >

First POST: Inventions

How voter data-sharing among GOP heavyweights is still lagging; why Facebook's News Feed scares news publishers; Google's ties to the State Department; and much, much more. GO

friday >

First POST: Spoilers

How the GOP hasn't fixed its tech talent gap; the most tech-savvy elected official in America, and the most tech-savvy state-wide candidate; and much, much more. GO

More