On my Democracies Online blog I shared my dismay about 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 satisfied without real candidate rebuttals online. E-Debates have a long way to go, but 10Questions.com is a huge step in the right direction.
10Questions, with scores of netroots and some media sponsors as led by TechPresident, allows you to upload you video question to various video services. You simply tag your question “10questions” and it will show up on the 10Questions site for people to vote on. With the buzz this is generating, I can’t imagine many candidates serious about connecting with voters skipping the opportunity to respond. Of course, what I want to see are some real candidate video rebuttals (a.k.a real debate) demonstrating how an asynchronous, yet time-based online debate can create new value.
If you work with a media site you can embed the online question voting right into your own site, just as E-Democracy.Org has done here. Imagine the power of hundreds of online news sites working collaboratively to combine their audience through one democratic experiment.
While I now focus much more locally with online citizen engagement, the presidential campaign is the signature experience which defines the expectations for races down the ballot. In short, a good online presidential debate might give me that dog catcher e-debate that I am just itching to see.