Saturday, December 1, 2007

Tech in the GOP YouTube Debate

So, the Republicans had another debate? Does it really matter...who won...who lost? Sadly, if you want to know THAT you'll need to Google it (or actually watch it...), because I'm going to discuss the technology aspects of this new debate format. You see, this debate was different from most because it was comprised almost entirely of questions sent in via YouTube. The idea of this is to allow "regular citizens" to get their questions answered directly by the people they are to vote for.
GOP Youtube Debate Question(screenshot from the list of YouTube questions asked)

My first criticism actually occurred a few months ago as I mentioned the Democratic YouTube debate. Do follow the link, but basically my complaint was that CNN made a poor choice by videotaping a screen playing a low-res video. Not only did this further wash out the picture, but it also made it even smaller than we're used to. This time, thankfully, CNN chose a different layout and played the video in picture, but at a size appropriate to the viewer's screen. The videos were much easier to make out. If they really want to up the ante next time they should display the videos at their original higher resolutions (which YouTube has mentioned they keep when videos are originally uploaded).

The next thing that irked me was the way in which the debate was actually disseminated. I was unable to watch the debate live because I had to go to a meeting in the middle. This meant that I was completely at the mercy of YouTube and CNN if I wanted to actually watch the debate. After it ended, I expected to be able to find the debate on Of course, I was disappointed and had to settle for some random clips of it that had been assembled instead. I wasn't completely suprised by this because often networks don't post their shows directly after they air. Even still I was unable to partake in their content and I can't see why they would want that. Next, I searched YouTube and was surprised to see that either no one posted it up or YouTube had taken down all relevant clips. [Thanks to the magic of blog editing and the help of a commenter, I need to correct this last turns out that YouTube did post the whole debate, it just wasn't clear to me that it was not just the questions asked, but the whole debate...sorry YT!] It was not until about 18 hours later that CNN was gracious enough to grant us fully continuous files of the debate. I think this turn around time is far too long to be excused by the need to edit or reformat the video. Also, the files downloaded fairly slowly because of their size, which makes me wish the networks understood why torrenting is so popular.

I will say that I enjoyed the debate, or at least as much as a moderate like myself can enjoy watching Republicans fight over who is more conservative. The questions did seem to be a little more carefully picked than last time and did not produce any really explosive arguments. The one content-related thing I didn't like was that contrary to the Democratic YouTube debate, where the candidates used their own videos as a way to describe themselves (in the sense of an introduction), the majority of the Republican created videos which were blantant attacks against the others standing next to them. That came off to me as cheap.

Anyway, enough editorial. This is my last "syndicated" article through the Broadside Online until the end of winter break, so if that's how you've found Mason Tech Beat, please add me to your RSS feed list or bookmark this site! I'll still be writing some throughout the winter, but I'll go ahead now and say have a safe and happy holiday!

Download the GOP YouTube Debate
Watch the Individual Questions Asked

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  1. Couple things:

    1) The videos were up on Youtube hours after it ended; I know because I was looking for clips around midnight the night of and easily found them.

    2)"The questions did seem to be a little more carefully picked than last time and did not produce any really explosive arguments." CNN has already had to back away from the questions picked (9 identified Democrats, including one who was affiliated with a campaign). Also, this was easily the most explosive debate on either side -- I've watched them all so far, and this produced the most fireworks (see the first question responses from Romney/Giuliani for a huge example).

    3) The Republicans seemed a lot lazier about creating their Youtube vids than the Democrats -- most were just campaign ads whereas the Democrats tended to create new videos. Also, the only "attack" video was Thompson's, the other's were all about the candidates themselves, so not sure how you made this generalization.

    Other than that, good review!

  2. well, first off, now that i go back and look at the youtube page that i actually linked to...i realize now that the clips actually contain the candidates' responses...when i saw it that night it looked like just the original questions...for some reason i missed that

    somehow i actually missed the argument you pointed out...when i was watching i only saw the last part...i don't know why...
    even so, a number of the most "explosive" arguments were more of the personal kind. I was comparing this debate to the democratic, where the questions themselves prompted the controversy, not regular old politicians being political...while CNN may have had to back away from some questions, I still think they were kind of lame. i will say the mcaine/romney argument about torture was interesting and that argument was clearly prompted by the question asked.

    maybe i should have toned down my response to their videos. campaign commercials have a certain tone that makes me feel like it's an "attack ad" even when it's not...i think it could be said that the difference in tone of the videos in the two debates was significant

    keep in mind i'm not some pro politico...i'm just calling it like i see it


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The content of this page is completely the creation and opinion of James Rogers. He is affiliated with Connect Mason and formerly Broadside Online but the relationship only governs republication, not content.

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