Inspired by the recent CNN/YouTube debate, the New York Times asked several media observers to imagine other ways in which the Web 2.0 world might influence presidential politics. I found Matt Bai’s suggestion particularly interesting:
Maybe someday soon the candidates will have laptop computers at their lecterns, and we’ll hang a giant screen behind the stage. Then, as one candidate is talking, the others will use instant messaging to create a kind of scrolling commentary and critique, and all the comments will appear overhead.
While John Edwards is decrying special interests, Bill Richardson might type: “Gee, John, what exactly would you call the trial lawyers?” Or Christopher Dodd might write: “Why is Kucinich still talking? LOL.”
It’s a neat idea. This year’s Personal Democracy Forum tried something similar, with audience members’ comments appearing on a screen behind the panelists. That worked all right, though it did distract from those onstage.
For a presidential debate then, the comments would indeed have to come from the candidates — not to mention, they need something to do while they wait five or ten minutes for their next turn.
P.S. I also noticed that the Times titled Tom Brokaw’s contribution “Sip and Spin.” Now, I’m perfectly fine with potential presidents answering questions from snowmen, but if you know whence the phrase come — no, not the toy — well, isn’t that a little undignified?
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