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United States Government Social Networks The Internet Politics

Social Sites Offer 'New' Way To Experience Presidential Debates 106

Posted by Zonk
from the everything-is-novel-on-the-interwebs dept.
News.com notes that the social sites have been burning up in the wake of the debates, as users create more content than it's possible to follow. Facebook specifically set up an area for debate viewers to post messages and take surveys during the events. Some participants found it a bit worthless, and the article refers to the experience as 'information overload'. "No doubt, the political twitterers must've felt empowered to know their Soundboard comments were being beamed out to an audience of potentially millions of Facebook users, and, if plucked by ABC's designated Facebook-monitoring reporter on TV, millions of offline viewers as well. Still, it's a little unclear whether the comments will prove all that useful for campaigns looking to boost their candidates' standing."
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Social Sites Offer 'New' Way To Experience Presidential Debates

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    At Christmas I was talking to my grandfather about the 1930s. He was mentioning how much American politiking has changed since then. In particular, he talked about how the candidates then didn't have the huge teams that they do today. The politicians themselves did much of the grunt work, and interacted directly with the voters.

    One thing he said is that it made the politicians seem more real. These days, a normal American citizen would have very little chance of meeting face-to-face with their representativ
    • by neapolitan (1100101) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @06:34PM (#21935832)
      Yes, I have heard stuff like this repeated a lot too. This may be true, but I do not think that it is all the politician's fault. I think it is partly the fact that the population of the USA was probably a fraction (~120 million) of what it is today. It is simply not reasonable to have any contact with any meaningful fraction of your electorate. I think the candidates DO, given their security and time limitations, make an effort to go out there and shake people's hands.

      Think about your state -- this is probably analogous to the USA quite a while ago. I have shaken my state governor's hand (I went to Boys' state) and got to talk to him a bit. I dated a girl from a small country in Europe, and she had met their president numerous times (and he knew her father by first name). It is partly just a function of the US becoming very large that this is not possible.

      P.S. Back when Slashdot was starting, me and 'Taco were really tight, PM'ing every night, but now he doesn't even answer the emails I send to him... :p
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by jez9999 (618189)
        I think it is partly the fact that the population of the USA was probably a fraction (~120 million) of what it is today. It is simply not reasonable to have any contact with any meaningful fraction of your electorate.

        That's exactly why the US system is designed for the federal government to have very little power, and the states to have most of it, so people can interact at a more local level... and Ron Paul is the only one advocating the return to this.
        • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

          by Tony Hoyle (11698)
          Actually he's advocating the complete abolition of the legal and social framework and the US and the complete abolition of the Army. Apparrently he was born in 1492.

          When I first heard about him he sounded OK, but please, for the love of bob, find out everything he stands for. Also investigate his continued writing for white supermacist organisations... if you still agree with him by all means vote for him.

          Hitler got in because he was clever at saying just the right things to the right audience. I'd hate
          • by jcr (53032) <[jcr] [at] [mac.com]> on Sunday January 06, 2008 @08:40PM (#21936912) Journal
            Actually he's advocating the complete abolition of the legal and social framework and the US and the complete abolition of the Army

            I have to wonder, why would you bother to make up such an outrageous lie, when it's so trivially disproven? Ron Paul advocates reducing the power of the federal government to that which is delegated to it in the constitution, which in case you haven't heard, is the legal framework of the United States.

            his continued writing for white supermacist organisations

            Like this [ronpaul2008.com]? or this [blogspot.com]? or this [youtube.com]?

            Sorry, but your attempt to paint Ron Paul as a racist has failed. Feel free to play again, though.

            -jcr

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by jcr (53032)
          Ron Paul is the only one advocating the return to this

          Correction: the only one who's running for president that advocates this. There are several tens of thousands of supporters, too. ;-)

          -jcr

      • by runderwo (609077) *

        This may be true, but I do not think that it is all the politician's fault. I think it is partly the fact that the population of the USA was probably a fraction (~120 million) of what it is today. It is simply not reasonable to have any contact with any meaningful fraction of your electorate.

        The very first proposed amendment to the Constitution [wikipedia.org] was designed to address this inevitable problem.

        The wisdom and foresight of those who came hundreds of years before us never ceases to amaze me.

    • Well, perhaps it's worth noting that in 1932 only about 33 million [infoplease.com] people voted in the Presidential election, while in 2004 the figure was closer to 110 million. Takes a bigger organization, with more layers, to reach four times as many people.

      More importantly, in the 1930s many people tended to get their voting patterns from local organizations that more or less owned their vote, e.g. unions and "machines." FDR worried quite a bit about keeping the "machine" and union boss vote. Harry Truman was selecte
  • by 4D6963 (933028) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @06:23PM (#21935722)

    Facebookers opined that Hillary Clinton is "onto Barack like a Rottweiler" one moment and "has about as much experience and common sense as an avacado [sic]" the next. Ron Paul is a "looney" to some, but "the only one who understands economics" and "the only logical and realistic choice," to others.

    So, put it that way, people say anything and its opposite about candidates, and we hardly have any way to quantify what they think as a whole. So we can (pretty much) qualify what people think but not quantify. Sounds like a problem.

    Here's what I wish would exist on the web, sort of polls in which no poll choices would be defined by the poll creator, but would emerge from what people say. I'm going to use TFA's Mitt Romney example to illustrate the idea : "Mitt Romney, who arguably endured the largest share of attacks during the Republican debate, drew mixed reviews: everything from "the only one who understands insurance," "looks younger than 60," to "is getting creamed," and "lost this debate.""

    Basically, from such a polling system's user input would emerge dominating trends, for example "Only Romney understands insurance", "Romney lost the debate", "Romney looks young", and people's input would be categorised under these self-grouping ideas and thus you could both qualify and quantify at the same time what people think and agree on.

    Unfortunately the "grouping user input into a few categories" thing might be the difficult part.

    • Basically, that sounds like Slashdot tags, but with a little more information about how many people actually tagged a candidate that. I figure that something like that would really confuse some people.

      I mean, what would the media think if someone like Hillary Clinton got tagged "mafiaa"? :]
      • by 4D6963 (933028)

        I agree, after some more thought about it, it's indeed quite similar to Slashdot tags, with the detail that you would know in what proportions people "tagged" what, and that as you said it would be a little more verbosituous (is there an actual term that means the same as this awkward neologism?) than mere tags.

        I really wish someone would pick that idea up and experiment with it.

        • > little more verbosituous (is there an actual term that means the same as this awkward neologism?)

          You might try the word "verbose"--it's a lot easier to say, too.

          And I agree that someone should try it. But when I say "someone" I mean "someone else" because I'm too lazy :]
    • Unfortunately the "grouping user input into a few categories" thing might be the difficult part.

      Considering that it combines successful natural language parsing with solving the strong AI problem, I'd say you're quite right about that.
      • by 4D6963 (933028)

        Considering that it combines successful natural language parsing with solving the strong AI problem, I'd say you're quite right about that.

        Or you could find a human solution to the problem, for example allow users to edit options in a Wiki-like fashion, or let people specify how similar their input is to other people's (specific) input. I think it's definitely worth some serious consideration, as most of the time I'm considering making a poll I think "if only there was a way people could define the poll o

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by porcupine8 (816071)
      Man, if you came up with software that could do that accurately and consistently, you'd have a HUGE market in the social sciences. What you're talking about is coding data (when the raw data consists of, for example, transcripts of talk in a classroom).
      • by 4D6963 (933028)

        What you're talking about is coding data (when the raw data consists of, for example, transcripts of talk in a classroom).

        Is it? Are you talking about parsing transcripts of discussions into extracting the main opinions and quantifying them? If so then no, that's a great idea, but that's very ambitious. My idea was more along the lines of a cross-over between a traditional poll and Slashdot's tagging system.

    • Somewhat like the link in my sig.?

      -metric
      • by 4D6963 (933028)

        Well, the link in your sig demonstrates a method for starting a debate, create a discussion and somehow poll people in a fairly innovative fashion, however it's not quite my idea.

        My idea is pretty much, start a poll with a question such as "What do you think about X?", and don't provide poll options, let the users do it, somehow. So if with such a system you asked "What do you think about death penalty?" you wouldn't get a say "23% for, 77% against" but more like 21% for "All killing is wrong, therefore the

    • Here's what I wish would exist on the web: Empirical data and the dissemination thereof. This whole "web as a social tool" is simply turning into another leash like television, where we get to be inundated with ads and the same bullshit we're spoon fed on TV, in the newspaper, magazines, billboards (well I don't have cable and conveniently have no local reception at my house).

      They aren't viewing the web a new useful tool just another way to slap their mantra all over everything to swing the tools out there
      • This whole "web as a social tool" is simply turning into another leash like television, where we get to be inundated with ads and the same bullshit we're spoon fed on TV, in the newspaper, magazines, billboards.

        You get this as a medium matures and becomes part of the social fabric of the mainstream populace.

        The difference between the Internet medium and TV is that we can easily run channels/sites around central ideas like Slashdot (not that we really fall into the category that you define) or the Journal of Nature. As long as it's economical for people of all interests to put up websites that appeal to them we can exist within the same medium as "The Latest on Britney Crack Whore".

        Ultimately I think this i

    • by peektwice (726616)
      I see the same thing on network TV...
      There are reporters that are incapable of forming an opinion about any of the candidates. It ends up sounding like a used car salesman trying to only talk about the good points of a crappy car.
  • I saw that last time I checked to see if I got an message from Ms. Mount Holyoke but I thought I would rather be bitten by a vampire
  • It's called "Watch the debate with other people, turn your head and talk to them" - social site just offer the ability to talk to people who can't spell.
  • by Paktu (1103861) on Sunday January 06, 2008 @07:00PM (#21936048)
    I noticed the new "Debate" feature on Facebook the other day and decided to take a look. In my opinion, this feature would be a lot more useful if it had been released two or three years ago when Facebook was just college students and the level of discourse was much more civilized. Now that Facebook is open to anyone, the debate goes to the lowest common denominator, so it's about as much fun as reading Youtube comments.
    • Good thing we'll always have high quality thoughtful deep comments to read on Slashdot.
    • Now that Facebook is open to anyone, the debate goes to the lowest common denominator

      I'm sure it doesn't help that the demographic is wide open, but there's unfortunately very few forums anywhere I've seen that don't tend that way. You have to start with a critical mass of well-informed, thoughtful people who have a minimum of axes to grind... and even then, you'll see outbreaks of simplistic thinking, petty attacks, and trolling. College students are a half-decent bet, but since a good number of them are s
    • Ironically, I often wish other sites had Slashdot type moderation.
  • Presidential campaigns are not the time for people to be "sounding off." Presidential campaigns are the time for LISTENING! Opining on any site about a political campaign is pointless, if not counterproductive. I watch the debates to determine for whom I should vote. Unless people can ask a direct question to a candidate, they should keep their hands off the keyboard and their mouths closed. I am not interested in a person's opinion on the race unless that person is part of a scientific poll or focus gr
  • so facebook is owned by microsoft...... facebook spies on what you do and what purchases you make and displays them for everyone to see..... facebook is doing government advertising....... and its favored by slashdot?! Im confused......
  • The guys that cut Kucinich [associatedcontent.com] out of the debate. Surely to prevent any "information overload" that might divert public attention away from the front runners of their choosing. All before the very first primary. I would hope that there will be noise about that on the social sites.
  • The VoteMatch site (http://eenvandaag.nl/index.php?module=PX_Story&type=user&func=view&cid=465) determines your political preference through statements from the largest democratic and republican candidates taking part in the preliminary US presidency elections. You can answer the statements by clicking on agree, disagree or don't know. You can add extra weight to any statements you find especially important. In a separate screen you can choose which candidates you would like to include in your r
  • Maybe peeked or seen sound bytes on the network news. Seems to be a lot of hoopla about something no ones ever seen. Dead silence when Jay Leno asks the audience to clap if they've watchone of the 24 debates.
  • Sure - maybe this is a good thing... or just more of the same. I mean these debates are on television, radio, hell they're probably broadcasted in morse code. The fact of the matter is as sad as it might sound, the large majority of young Americans simply aren't interested in these presidential debates. This is evident in voting percentages from the following years. Why would anyone think a debate through a social networking site will change this.

    Quite frankly, in my opinion, I think just about everythin

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