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Ask Not What Your Country Can Do For You-Tube...
November 28, 2007  | By David Bianculli
 
CNN and You-Tube team up tonight at 8 ET in St. Petersburg, FL, to hold the second debate among potential candidates for President of the United States. The Democrats did it in July, fielding digitally recorded questions from average American citizens, and now the Republicans gets their chance. Most likely, they'll learn the same thing.

Namely, that democracy is a fabulous concept, if not for all those... people.

The best thing about the Internet revolution is the way anything and everything can be recorded and distributed from the bottom up. In the political arena, this means George Allen can lose a senatorial election because footage of him calling someone "Macaca" becomes a viral video, then makes the news, then derails Allen's career.

Allen might have been one of the Republican candidates vying for president on tonight's CNN/YouTube debate - if not for what YouTube has done to him already.

The worst thing about the Internet revolution, though, is that just because every voice can be heard, that doesn't mean every voice is worth listening to. The more people speak at the same time, the more it becomes an electronic tower of Babel, or at least babble - and the harder it is for worthwhile voices to be heard above the din.

anderson-cooper.jpg

When the Democrats had their shot at this CNN/YouTube debate experiment, CNN's Anderson Cooper was there mostly to moderate, ask follow-up questions and shuffle through the selected, recorded questions by YouTube users. Getting a question abut health care or insurance is more potent when it comes from a dying patient - and demands a different, less general and evasive type of answer.

But in July, when "regular people" were selected from the audience attending the debate, and asked not only to pose questions, but to offer their opinions of the answers, the results were deadly time-wasters. Tonight's debate may do a lot for YouTube - in one sense, it's a two-hour infomercial luring new viewers to the site - but it's not yet clear, by any means, what YouTube is doing to, or for, our country.

 
 
 
 
 
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