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Daily Digest: It's Debate Night and We're All Invited! Kinda.

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, September 26 2008

The Web on the Candidates

  • This Debate Belongs to You and Me: With word coming that the show will go on, we turn attention to tonight's first '08 presidential debate at Ole Miss. Change Congress's Larry Lessig and scores of other open democracy advocates from across the political spectrum (including PdF and techPres) have issued a call for the debates to be free. The ask? It's two-fold. The first is that the events' raw footage be released into the public domain. The second is that at least some questions should be chosen "town hall" style, using the Internet, as we saw happen during the primary season. Speaking of the debate, Micah Sifry has a great round-up of the ways we can all participate in the action. A programming note: C-SPAN has just launched an innovative new "Debate Hub." We'll have a full look at it later today on techPresident, so keep and eye out for that. #

  • What Twitter Says About Election '08: So, what on the political landscape has Twitterers tweet-tweet-tweeting away? Well, as of this morning, it's Sarah Palin's interview with Katie Couric and, relatedly, Miss Teen USA. Twitter has launched an Election '08 site that will, blogs the company's Biz Stone, rely upon "real-time algorithmic analysis on millions of unedited public reactions [to] reveal what is truly on our minds." It's certainly a neat concept, at least in the aggregate. And the constant flow of tweets is as soothing as one of those burbling desk fountains they sell at the mall. But, to play party pooper for a minute, are @SallyfromSanFrancisco's decontextualized musings on the state of American politics really worth my brain space when I don't know her from Eve? #

  • SuperPoking the Vote: Yesterday Facebook launched a streamlined voter registration tool in partnership with two progressive-leaning organizations, Rock the Vote and Credo Mobile. Two clicks or so is all it takes to get the app embedded on a user's profile page, and the company is running ads for it across the social-networking site. Launched in the morning, Venture Beat's Kristen Nicole reported later in the day that the app had already registered more than 3,400 people. MySpace more your cup of tea? You're covered there too, through a partnership with a vendor called Election Impact. Of course, there's one thing to keep in my mind here. While anyone -- Republican, Democrat, independent, Greenie, John Bircher, socialist, whatever -- can register to vote with these tools, Barack Obama finds himself a hugely more popular fellow than John McCain on both these social-networking sites. #

TechCongress and Beyond

  • A Closed Performance of How a Bill Becomes a Law: Wired's Sarah Lai Stirland highlights the pushing now underway to make Congress's wrangling over the Wall Street bailout bill a more transparent process. Sarah has the Sunlight Foundation's Ellen Miller's take: "[E]very piece of legislation should have a minimal online-public-availability time of 72 hours... There's no better place to start with than with this bill that involves hundreds of billions of dollars." But with all eye's on the bailout debate, there's other massive and hugely-expensive legislation being passed under an even more obscuring cloak of secrecy; open government sage Paul Blumenthal has the story of this week's 357-page, $600 billion (yes, billion) appropriations bill that lawmakers had less than a day to make sense of. #

In Case You Missed It...

Nancy Scola catches up with activist, street theater veteran, and Billionaires for Bush founder Andrew Boyd on how the website BuyMySh*& inspired him to bring together hundreds of protestors just south of Wall Street yesterday. Nancy also looks at Vote Today Ohio, a small group of activists using ActBlue and Google Docs to bank Obama some votes during the so-called Golden Week, the seven-day period when Ohio's new voters can register and cast a ballot on the very same day.

Boy has Micah Sifry been busy. He highlights a compelling new approach to meme tracking, using as subjects the McCain camp's "Celeb" ad and Paris Hilton's rather brilliant response. He asks how long it will before someone mashed up the Palin-Couric interview with with Miss Teen South Carolina? (Answer: not long, not long at all.) He's enjoying the Economist's "Global Electoral College" and unveiling a "bailout datatorial" that tracks the flow of money from Wall Street to Washington DC over the last two decades. And he's demanding an Oscar for whomever is scripting Ralph Nader's web videos, including the latest that, quite naturally, co-stars both "Obama Girl" Amber Lee Ettinger and Jesse Ventura.

Zephyr Teachout is engaging in her favorite pastime: Huckwatching. Tracking Mike Huckabee's reaction to the bailout ("disappointed and disgusted"), Zephyr predicts that '08 Republican candidate has designs on the 2012 race should Obama win. Interesting post, but for the love of all that is good and holy, please, please let us not speak of the next presidential cycle again until at least November 5th. [Editor's note from Micah: "It's too late. Zephyr wins the prize!"]