So it has come to this – consumers are now able to use digital imaging technology to help shape the course of the country’s political debates. Well, bravo!
CNN and YouTube had billed last month’s Democratic debate as an “innovative and groundbreaking move, a way to get presidential candidates to answer questions directly from American citizens in a major public forum.”
From the ridiculous (a melting snowman asking about global warming) to the sublime (a cancer sufferer asking about healthcare), the CNN/YouTube Dem debate certainly added some human eloquence and candor to what had always been a very stuffy and insular process. Replacing screened audiences, dressed in their Sunday best with regular folks comfortably addressing a camera (their camera) from their own home or street, represented a welcome, if a bit goofy at times, respite.
Voters posed questions in flannel shirts, in song and in pairs to democratic candidates, that appeared a bit put off initially, but who settled in and got more comfortable with the process as the evening went along.
The entire exercise took the User Generated Content market to new heights and propelled digital technology into the spotlight. Who would have guessed that consumers would be making videos with their digital cameras that involved asking questions to presidential candidates to answer during a televised debate? The idea of asking voters to submit video questions truly forces the candidates to connect with mainstream America – like it, or not.
Think back to the time when we all stood back in amazement at the early demos in the mid 90s that showed how a digicam could capture an image and then moments later (minutes actually) have it show up on a computer screen. I, for one, was wowed.
In a little over 10 years the technology is helping law enforcement catch criminals, find lost children, erase geographic boundaries for families wanting to share treasured moments in their lives and now, incredibly, allowing the general public to truly participate in a political debate. Talk about motivating the public to vote – I can’t think of a better way then letting them speak directly to the candidates through the lens of a camera. The Republicans are planning a similar format for their debate in September.
Of the over 3,000 videos CNN received, 38 of them made the debate. While we’ve written in this space how the ubiquitous nature of digital cameras is sometimes having a negative effect on society, the democratic debate spins that feeling in the opposite direction. Despite what many Americans are beginning to think, democracy is indeed in good hands. Apparently, so are millions of digital cameras with video capability.