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Daily Digest: 6/11/07

BY Joshua Levy | Monday, June 11 2007

The Web on the Candidates

  • Advertising Age is reporting that a CNN/YouTube co-sponsored debate scheduled for late July will be the first to feature questions in the form of user-generated videos. YouTube users will be asked to upload their questions to YouTube, several of which will be put to the candidates during the July 23 debate. While some skeptics don't see this as an opening up of the debates to the common people -- only internet activists will participate -- it's still a welcome change to the tired TV debate format that is failing to get anyone too excited.
  • A new Facebook Platform app called Vote on the Book is seeking to simulate "the 2008 Presidential election process, with just one catch-- every vote cast donates money to the candidate's Presidential campaign. It's simple: you vote, we tally the results and divide our earnings out to the candidates by the percentage of vote they have." Sounds like a nifty idea, though there's no explanation of where the donated money is coming from, or how much is donated for every vote...
  • Over at the Caucus Katie Phillips writes about a recent seminar at George Washington University called "The Future of Political Communications: Connecting With Young Voters." While Phillips thought that the day offered nothing new for people immersed in the world of tech and politics, she writes that "for those who are novices, or simply just surfing in leisure time, a few points seemed worth sharing." The seminar featured the e-advisors for the Clinton, Obama, Edwards, and McCain campaigns, and judging from Phillips' report, Edwards advisor Joe Trippi dominated the discussion, discussing the ways in which the online landscape has changed since Howard Dean's 2004 campaign, the implications of YouTubing every public appearance, and how Facebook and MySpace have changed the game. Check out the post for more.
  • Is Google such an active participant in the 2008 election cycle because it simply believes in the democratic process, or because it has the corporate image of "Don't Be Evil" to protect? Probably a mixture of the two, writes Mary Anne Ostrom of the San Jose Mercury News. With Google and YouTube having a enormous amount of online influence, and with millions to be made in advertising profits, critics are worried about their increasing role as a public town hall, especially in light of their decision to remove, and quickly reinstate, the controversial John McCain video showing him singing "bomb Iran" to the tune of the Beach Boys' "Barbara Ann." Ostrom quotes MoveOn.org's Eli Pariser, who is nervous about Google's role."You don't want to develop a town hall that arbitrarily kicks people out," he said.
  • Last week PBS' NewsHour produced a short bit on presidential online campaigning using the Mitt Romney campaign as a case study. It featured campaign "e-operatives" Stephen Smith and Mindy Finn. "We're doing things online for the same reason that we do things offline: to raise money, to spread the governor's message, and to ultimately mobilize votes in the early primary states and then across America," Smith said. While the report didn't offer anything new for those of us who cover this stuff every day, it's a useful primer for the general public.

The Candidates on the Web

  • Barack Obama is the first candidate to use closed captioning and Spanish captioning for his online videos. It's a buggy system -- a separate pop-up window with the English or Spanish caption appears before the videos appear, meaning that the captions and the video quickly become out of sync. Nevertheless, I haven't seen news of any other campaigns trying something like this.