This is no Social Media

I totally agree with FiveThiryEight’s Nate, arguing against broadcasting the presidential debate while including on-screen immediate responses from focus groups. It is one thing to have a Hack The Debate discussion showing Twitter messages over the video stream – this is social media, participation that reflect opinion and is expected to be biased. However, continuously showing responses of so-called “testing groups” (shown in the bottom of the screen below) is something entirely different. Not only the opinions of this group could not possibly represent the population or even the undecided voters, as Nate correctly points out. Worse, the presentation completely robs the debate from its status as the last sanctuary of actualcontent (Palin aside) instead of meta-analysis.

Debate screenshot
Mindless random crowd likey Obama response!

The elections are not a spectator sport. CNN wants us to believe it’s all about the race, while it should be all about the issues. The debate was the last place where you could really hear about the issues (Palin aside). Even following the #current Twitter messages during the debate showed a reasonable sense of discussion – mostly personal views and comments on the content. But on CNN? It was all about winning and losing, in the most immediate and stupid sense of the word. Couldn’t take my eyes off the screen! This is no social media, even if it has people in it.

4 thoughts on “This is no Social Media

  1. ayman

    Naaman, it seems this election is a spectator sport. Parties flooded San Francisco bars and homes (everywhere from Kilowatt to people running debate parties called “McCain vs That One“). The added stimulus works like extra gravy on Thanksgiving.

    The representation of the sample is not important in the CNN live XY plots. It’s the visualization. In this case, visually it is more compelling than the content. Really people walking around or sitting behind a podium provides little visual entertainment (with a few exceptions). So your eyes are drawn away…and the rest is (will be) history.

  2. naaman Post author

    Ahem. Wasn’t anyone actually listening? You know, it used to be that we could listen without any visual entertainment.

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