The Anti-Democratic Debate – Yahoo and partners run 17th online candidate debate

OK, I’m ticked.

Back in 1994 Scott Aikens and I put together the world’s first online candidate debate as part of Minnesota E-Democracy. It was a state level debate. Today, E-Democracy.Org has a resource center on e-debates here:

In 2000, I worked on the general election Web White & Blue Presidential Rolling Cyber Debate in which Yahoo! was a partner. The Democracy Network of the Center for Governmental Studies in 1996 hosted something they called a digital debate as well. More recently, the Veterans of Foreign Wars Choices of Democracy project also entered the online debate space.

Then today, a reputable source like the BBC says the Yahoo Democratic Candidate – is the “first online-only debate.” And Google news is compiling similar stories filled with this misinformation.

This may be the first online-only Presidential primary debate with video.

Politics Online keeps a nice list of online political firsts. If you search Yahoo for the phrase “first online debate” leading off their debate site, you get a link to our 1996 e-debate in the top ten.

The other day I blogged my detailed proposal for all to steal on how a good online debate should be designed. It builds off the Minnesota Gubernatorial E-Debate in 2006.

I do hope this Yahoo!/Huffington Post/Slate online debate goes well. We need more online efforts which force substantive interchange among candidates that also bring out the voices of citizens. If this was really a “debate” I would expect to see round one video responses followed by a second round where candidates choose who to respond to in detail (video, audio, text, etc.). The Internet is the perfect medium for in-depth rebuttals with supporting links. That is why the E-Democracy.Org format requires rebuttals from candidates on a select number of major themes. We even allow candidates to rebut from the road via a telephone to MP3 audio application.

Online news expert Jeff Jarvis has blogged a couple zingers titled Poor Yahoo and The Yahoo Presidential Mushup. Other bloggers are weighing in as well.

What I like about this candidate “conversation” – the viewer can decide which candidates to view on specific issues and on the Yahoo site they are encouraging people to discuss the debate on their message boards.

What I don’t like – most questions are not credited to Internet users, the official discussion is in a walled garden that prohibits outside linking rather than encouraging, then aggregating a web 2.0 style voter conversation across the web (see my detailed proposal – PDF).

In the general election, there can be no exclusive online presidential debate BUT if we all work together we can create a web 2.0-savvy/fully syndicated/creative commons/open source style e-debate that is fundamentally interactive and inspirational to voters and unavoidable by the major candidates.

Steven Clift

P.S. I should note that when this press release came out last winter I blogged about this and I sent an e-mail to the contacts on the press release correcting the record and offering to share advice. I also e-mailed Charlie Rose who repeats the false “we’re first” claim in their introduction video. Overstating their originality once, no big deal. But again and again. Come on folks – you all look smart enough to check your facts.

5 Comments to “The Anti-Democratic Debate – Yahoo and partners run 17th online candidate debate”

  1. Personal Democracy Forum – Technology Is Changing Politics Says:

    links from TechnoratiDemocracies Online

  2. techPresident – How the candidates are using the web, and how the web is using them. Says:

    links from TechnoratiDemocracies Online

  3. MediaShift Idea Lab | PBS Says:

    links from TechnoratiOn myDemocracies Online blog I shared my dismayabout the so-called online candidate debates thus far this election cycle. With E-Democracy.Org we hosted the first online candidate debate back in 1994, so I am looking for innovations that involve the public in determining the questions and would be

  4. Threat Level - Wired Blogs Says:

    Kramer auto Pingback[...] I do want to correct the record out there and make sure folks know that the first online candidate debate was held back in 1994 among Minnesota candidates for Governor and U.S. Senate. I also worked on the Web White and Blue general election online debate in 2000 which even included some video and a few candidate rebuttals. More: [...]

  5. The Yahoo Presidential Mush-up at PrezVid Says:

    Kramer auto Pingback[...] 3 Steven Clift Sep 15th, 2007 at 4:35 am [...]

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