Want to know what Barack Obama thinks about net neutrality? John McCain’s views on white space spectrum? Good luck learning about that during any of this fall’s official debates. But we’re reasonably sure these and other issues will come up via a semi-formal debate the two campaigns are starting up today — via Twitter.
Here are the pretty loose ground rules for the event, organised by Andrew Rasiej’s Personal Democracy Forum: Sometime today, moderator Ana Marie Cox will start lobbing questions to two officially sanctioned stand-ins for the rival campaigns — Mike Nelson, who’s advising the Obama campaign on tech issues, and Liz Mair, online communcations director for the Republican National Committee. The debate is supposed to focus exclusively on tech, so if you’re looking for arguments about Iraq or campaign financing, you’re going to be disappointed. But since it’s completely in the hands of Ana Marie, best known as the original Wonkette, we’re betting it’s going to be quite lively.
How to play along: You can “follow” all three particpants via Twitter (we’ve linked to each one above). Or you can search for their Tweets on Summize, using the “#pdfdebate” tag as a search term. Third option: A “Tweetboard” which lays out all of the players, side-by-side.
The event kicks off some time this evening, and is supposed to run through the weekend, at least. It’s tied to PDF 2008, Andrew’s impressive two-day tech-meets-politics conference, which kicks off Monday. Bonus for SAI readers: $100 off the $695 ticket price. Register online and enter “SAI” as the promotion code.
*Update: Initial conclusion after the first evening’s set of questions – great concept, poor execution. Love the notion of forcing the candidates – or their proxies, in this case – to confine their answers to brief responses. But it’s nearly impossible to follow a discussion between three different Twitters – it’s like flipping between three different TV channels.
You can get the most info and least headaches by watching here, but it’s still a frustrating experience. We hope this can get fixed on the fly (how?) and if not, we hope someone tackles the problem for the next go-round.