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The Great Failed Twitter Debate of 2008

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Typical: old dogs, new tricks.

Consider this post the rolled up newspaper that's used to swat a dog across its snout after the pooch takes a shit in the middle of the kitchen floor. This time the kitchen floor is the interweb. And the steaming, coiled, noxious piece of shit is the first-ever Presidential Twitter debate -- which features no presidential candidates.

Nope. Just some Obama and McCain staffers armed with Treos (couldn't even get iPhones --not even the old ones!) participating in a four-day online debate moderated by some professor of tech and culture and O.G. Wonkette/new editor at Radar Ana Marie Cox.

As you all know, Tweets can only be 140 characters long. Here's a sample response to John McCain's intern about his fiscal plan:

Priorities:1) $ for R&D>>tax breaks for hedge fund managers;2) S&T ed. programs>>tax breaks for oil companies

Do you hear that? That's the sound of my soul screaming. I know folks are trying in earnest to get some cutting edge fusion going with the presidential election and social media, but this type of trash misses the point entirely. Much like the YouTube debates, having staff serve as gatekeepers to mediate content subverts the entire point of social media. It's about being instant, spontaneous, and accessible.

Nothing about filming a talking snowman or having some intern text message you about universal health care enriches the political process. It's just a ham-handed exercise in repackaging. The World Wide Web really does provide a grassroots challenge to both establishment politics and mainstream media -- but not when it's so cheaply used. The smartest baby boomer I know said this about the rise of New Media in politics

Authentic Web-driven power surfaces most dramatically when online communities exercise collective accountability over institutions and individuals that were once invulnerable to instantaneous public reaction and feedback.

Put another way -- in a 140 characters or less:

"If you claim to be a social media expert and you only use social media to talk about social media... you're no expert." Tim Siedell via Twitter.

related: FAILURE.