For the past two election cycles, a web site has tried to cultivate more participation by voters to shape the kind of information they get from candidates. Instead of being at the mercy of an editorial staff or campaign manager to select issues for discussion, 10questions crowdsources that vetting process.
10Questions invites its community to pose and vote on questions to ask candidates, and then critique on the quality of their responses. The philosophy is that this process fosters broader involvement of voters—potentially gives voice to traditional also-ran candidates—and bypasses the bias of media machines and campaign spinsters by allowing the content to be framed from the bottom up. Through the candidates’ video responses, voters are exposed to answers and scrutiny that might be difficult to extract from a live debate.
Iterating on the CommunityCounts project, the site is the product of partnerships between Personal Democracy Forum, The Knight Foundation, Google, YouTube, and a number of national media partners, like the San Francisco Chronicle and the Miami Herald.
When 10Questions launched in September 2007, the experiment was about the Presidential campaigns. During the mid-term elections of 2010, 10Questions identified 43 competitive races in 11 states. The site has focused on the two major American political parties, but minor candidates could participate, too, if they met base criteria (ballot status, have a website, competitive in polling numbers). The results varied, but the organizers behind this method of political discourse are encouraged about its potential as a platform.
There is a little road-not-traveled undercurrent for me here. Some of the people associated with 10Questions and projects like it were part of the RootsCamp meetings in SecondLife in November 2006. My academic interests deviated from politics by the time 10questions was launching in time for the 2008 elections, but it is the kind of project that could have been a focal point of my dissertation.Tags: 10questions, answers, candidates, debate, Google, Knight Foundation, Personal Democracy, Politics, questions, video, YouTube