Debating The Second Screen

Tonight is the first of several debates in the current campaign for president and I’m very much looking forward to it. These things are great theater even if they’re usually not particularly informative. I liken them to trade shows – no one ever makes any huge news at them unless they make a mistake. The big stuff is saved for an event one can completely orchestrate and the debates (or trade shows) don’t qualify.

I think, however, that these events might be a bit different this time around and it has nothing to do with the candidates themselves. They will not answer the question asked but instead will put out whatever talking point tested well. They generally won’t get too specific about anything and they’ll probably spend more time on things that have very little to do with solving the challenges that face the country and more to do with the loud nonsense that seems to surround our elections. One thing will be very different, however, and that may make all the difference.

85 percent of tablet owners use the device while watching TV, according to one study and Nielsen says 45 percent of Americans use their tablet while watching TV daily.  Throw in smartphone use and suddenly there is a majority of people conversing and fact-checking in real time during the debates.  In addition, one hopes that there will be sentiment analysis pushed out by the major firms in that field as we go.  I wonder if either campaign is smart enough to be monitoring that during the debate and if either candidate will be told to adjust anything during a break? It’s sort of the digital version of the positive/negative lines CNN usually runs based on a panel twisting dials.

Lincoln knew you can’t fool all of the people all of the time and given that there will be real-time fact checking happening concurrently tonight, I don’t think these guys will even be able to fool all of the people some of the time.  Another example of how technology has changed media and politics for the better?  I think so.  What do you think?

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