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How Technology Destroyed The Once Substantive Presidential Debate

TechCrunch: Presidential debates were not always a soapbox for ideological soundbites. During the heyday of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, debates lasted several hours and dared to tackle policy nuances. Then, technology shot critical thinking in the head: radio forced once-complex messages into Twitter-like sound bites; television rewarded style over substance; and these days, users’ social media feeds are covertly manipulating the public into a partisan echo-chamber before they have a chance to objectively evaluate the speeches for themselves.

Here’s what changed – and why this “debate theatre” became an acceptable norm.


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There is no need for

There is no need for technology to make things more shallow. They are more shallow because the viewers are. It took decades of conditioning to get to this point.

Also the debates are useless because they are pre-approved staged events, not real debates. They are produced and less real than reality television. Regardless of technology the questions can all be pre-approved. The ground rules set up as they are. It's that the public doesn't know who sets up the debates and the contracts behind them. They do it with townhall meetings all the time. Live in person events can be just as fake and scripted.

The technology should allow for more in depth debates. It simply isn't used that way because there is no desire to use it that way by those in power and no significant demand from a well conditioned population.

And coming from techies no less,

not something of a latter-day Luddite like myself. Having a "sound-byte" mentality requires everything to be portrayed as black and white issues with simple solutions. In reality, these issues facing the nation are complex, reflecting different philosophies not just strategies, and with trade-offs that need to be considered and explained. These television debates as they are currently formatted don't allow viewers to truly know the stuff of which a candidate is made. It's a good place for those who would garner support via cliches, no place for anyone with any depth.

We saw it ourselves, the vast difference between how Ron Paul came across at the debates vs. the myriad speeches he gave while on the campaign trail.

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.
~ John Muir

That's pure unadulterated B S. The players, er, candidates,

have become shills for tptb, otherwise there is nothing to hold them back from handling real issues, nuances and details to their ideas. We've all heard Dr Paul speak, so we know better. Amen.


The medium is the message.

Sorry but it's true. There's a reason Ron does so poorly. People watching tv don't want to think, they want to emote and be involved and root for a team.

Look at what Twitter does to critical thinking, it's brutal.

Eric Hoffer

Mcluhan - the Medium is the

Marshall Mcluhan - the Medium is the Message 1/3

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