We're pleased to announce a first for the Internet Election of 2008: Starting tonight, a designated representative of both of the major presidential campaigns are going to participate in a free-wheeling debate on technology and government, moderated by Time magazine blogger Ana Marie Cox and channeled via Twitter.
The McCain campaign will be represented by Liz Mair, the online communications director of the Republican National Committee. The Obama campaign will be represented by Mike Nelson, a professor at Georgetown University who served in the Clinton White House under Vice President Gore on tech policy issues. He is an outside advisor to Obama’s campaign on issues of technology, media and telecommunications
The debate is an initiative of Personal Democracy Forum and is being launched in tandem with next week's annual PdF conference, which is taking place Monday and Tuesday at Rose Hall in NYC.
We're taking an open approach to this debate, as befits the medium where it is taking place. Each day, Ana is going to tweet a question or two, and Liz and Mike will tweet their answers. There is no set limit on answers--we're letting Ana make the framework up as the debate evolves. Obviously, Mike and Liz will be working within Twitter's 140-character limit for individual tweets, but they can link out or post multiple tweets as part of their answer to a question. It will be up to Ana to determine when a topic is done, and also whether to pull in comments or queries from other Twitter users who are following along.
Strikes me as mostly gimmicky, but when you consider that much of the "debates" we have today are more in the soundbite vein than, say...Lincoln-Douglas, maybe it makes sense. Something you can see in your twitter interface wherever you interact with it: on Facebook, on your mobile device, on the campaigns' blogs.
How else might they use twitter? Maybe for rapid response to smears? To let supporters know when a candidate is making an impromptu stop near them?