Woo hoo, the first presidential debate is tomorrow! Fire up your Tivos, kids, so you don’t miss a second of the non-stop action…and be glad that the professional refs are back on the job.
Okay fine, maybe the debates aren’t really that exciting, and maybe they won’t likely change the dynamic of the election in any meaningful way (past ones rarely have). But that won’t stop the internet from trying to hop onto television’s party barge as it floats by: organizations and publications across the spectrum are encouraging their followers to tweet questions at the moderators, for example, using this very public event to try to get attention for their causes. Plenty of news organizations will live-stream and fact-check the debates as they happen, and of course citizens across the country will use Twitter, blogs and Facebook to register their responses in real time and potentially catapult themselves to digital fame (“duuuuuude, maybe CNN will feature my tweet!”).
All of that notwithstanding, presidential debates aren’t really an internet moment: they’re a broadcast moment. As we’ve discussed on Epolitics.com again and again, the ‘net is really a vast collection of niches, thousands (millions) of individual outlets for content and conversation about the infinite array of topics that captivate the human mind. One thing it isn’t, at least not yet? A channel capable of creating single, shared cultural moment in the way that a television broadcast can.