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Daily Digest: Was Last Night a Waste of 90 Minutes? Debatable

BY Nancy Scola | Wednesday, October 8 2008

The Web on the Candidates

  • Debates' Commission Masterminds Most Somnolent Event: Last night's presidential "town hall" in Nashville hosted by Tom Brokaw was a bust, suggests Micah Sifry. First things first: the word on the street yesterday was that six million votes had poured in through, the love child of MySpace and the Commission on Presidential Debates. You might remember that we expressed a bit of skepticism about that rather enormous rate of public participation yesterday, and yes, we're bragging, because last night Brokaw pegged the number at a far more plausible "tens of thousands." No matter how many there were, only four "from the Internet" questions were actually asked during the debate. (Answered is a different story -- both candidates made Laila Ali proud with their ability to bob and weave.) So, Micah, how do we fix it? Luckily, he's got ideas, and they center around finally grasping that we have the tools to handle living in a world of abundance. (By the way, we'd love to ask the CPD how many questions actual came in online, but their website lists no contact information -- or even a debate schedule. Democracy!) If you're newly interested in the idea of debate reform, Open Debates is a good place to start. #

  • Forget Ohio Undecideds -- Debate Feedback for Everyone: NPR social media bloke Andy Carvin's launched an intriguing last-minute "distributed dial testing" Twitter experiment yesterday. To participate, you simply included a one to ten rating of the candidates in your tweet, set off by asterisks. (For example, like what the Republican nominee had to say about Pakistan? Tweet "Amen on Waziristan *McCain 8.5*") Using the brand spanking new Twitter visual charting service Plodt, the dial test experiment pulled in 824 submissions from 84 people. A commenter on had praise for the effort: "Watching debate used to be pretty 'passive.' Twittering has definitely made this whole experience so much more active." As Andy acknowledged the results should be taken with a grain of salt. On number of followers alone, Twitter is clearly Obama territory. His average rating last night was a healthy 7.2. By contrast McCain's was just 2.2 -- skewed, it seems, by a fair number of goose eggs. #

  • Myriad Possibilities for Mobile Activism: Expanding upon PdF's Allison Fine and Nancy Scola's proposal for using Twitter as an election protection tool, Culture Kitchen's Liza Sabater lays out some provocative ideas for taking advantage of the decentralized, network world and the humble cell phone to mix things up. Liza details how mobile IM, photos, voicemail, streaming video, and moblogging should have places of honor in the toolbox of the activist-on-the-go. "These are broadcasting practices that apply to ANY media campaign," suggests Liza. "You don't have to wait for the elections to put it to good use." #

The Candidates on the Web

  • Web Video: Like Press Releases, Only More Awesome: Online video ad spots offer campaigns the chance, of course, to push the edges of the envelope without dropping the coin it would take to do the same on the teevee box. But National Journal's Amy Harder explores the message and meaning of web video and, interestingly, finds online experts in complete disagreement over who campaigns are attempting to reach with their videos -- the media, undecideds, the base? (We suspect the real answer is along the lines of "Those people who responded? Yep, that's who we were after.") Conservative consultant David All smartly says that web ads are "the new press release," able to raise "the specter of [an] issue a degree or two above what a press release would do." (On the topic of web video and keeping up with our Keating Economics watch, that 13 minute documentary has been viewed 1.1 million times since its release Monday.) #

In Case You Missed It...

Justin Oberman reports that video micro-blogging service Seesmic and the Washington Post have just formed a partnership, eager to see if traditional media and new media can make beautiful music together.

And Zephyr Teachout asks us all for thoughts on how marshal the facts needed to respond to an email from Mike Huckabee that falsely claims that former Fannie Mae chief Franklin Raines is Obama's "Chief Economic Advisor." "I know where to go for falsehoods," writes Zephyr. "What's the best place to go for truth?" Got ideas for Zephyr? Be sure to drop them in the comments.