There were two specific proposals: First, debate footage should be put in the public domain so that citizens can freely share it, blog about it, and put it on YouTube without fear of being deemed a copyright lawbreaker. Second, existing Internet voting technology should be used to allow voters to just just ask questions, but help select them.
Big news! Both candidates agreed with the Open Debate Coalition's principles! Read Obama's letter here and McCain's letter here.
Did any of this pass quietly into the night? Nope! Check out the big splash below!
WASHINGTON POST: Lessig (and others) Asks Candidates to Make Debates More Open
Tonight's debate is officially on -- and a group of academics, Internet pioneers and technology advocates are asking the candidates to "open up" the debates to the public rather than being "controlled by the media."L.A. TIMES: Diverse web coalition asks McCain, Obama to alter debates
Currently, the job of designing and choosing questions is left to the media host. During the primary season some debates chose from questions submitted online, but the letter writers say those chosen were "gimmicky and not hard-hitting enough." They prefer use of bubble-up Internet technology, which they call "the essence of the internet as we know it."NATIONAL JOURNAL: McCain, Obama Urged To Adopt 'Open Debate' Principles
The letter calls on the candidates to commit to "a principle that whenever you debate publicly, the raw footage of that debate will be dedicated to the public domain. Those in charge of the video feed should be directed to make it free for anyone to use."BROADCASTING & CABLE: Obama, McCain Back Public Re-use Of Debate Footage
Both Barack Obama and John McCain are urging the TV networks and Presidential Debate Commission to allow debate footage to be distributed and used freely on the Internet...CQ POLITICS: Activist Coalition Asks Candidates to Make Debates More Web-Savvy
“This cycle’s YouTube debates were a milestone for Internet participation in presidential debates,” the letter said...But the coalition complained that these debates “put too much discretion in the hands of gatekeepers,” adding, “Many of the questions chosen by TV producers were considered gimmicky and not hard-hitting enough, and never would have bubbled up on their own.”BROADCASTING & CABLE: Group Pushes for Rights to Debate Footage; Open Debate Coalition seeks more Internet-friendly debates, rights to video footage.
A coalition of groups from both sides of the political spectrum asked the presidential candidates to pledge to hold more Internet-friendly debates, including requiring media companies to release rights to video footage.CRAIG FROM CRAIGSLIST: Open Debate Coalition: Free the Presidential debate videos
We're experiencing a great movement towards networked, grassroots democracy, and anything citizens can do to promote that is good for the country. The Open Debate Coalition's principles mark a significant step forward in that direction.NEWT GINGRICH'S AMERICAN SOLUTIONS: Transforming the Presidential Debates
We think we’ve found a good opportunity to bring some much needed reform and in the process once again demonstrate our tripartisan nature. We’ve teamed up with individuals on the left (including Moveon.org) along with others on the center and the right to sign a letter to support transparency in terms of the content and questions asked during the debates.PC WORLD (IDG NEWS): Coalition Wants Debates More Friendly to Voters, Web
A truly open debate would allow the public to select the questions, added Mindy Finn, a Republican online strategist who signed the Open Debate Coalition letter. The YouTube debates took an important step forward, "but the media still chose the questions, leaving the people out [of] the process, again," she said. "It's not enough to feign interest in the people's opinion, you have to walk the walk by giving the voters the chance to see their most important questions asked, the ones that the greatest number of people care about. Otherwise, it's a faux open debate."CNET: Liberals, conservatives ask for Internet-friendly debates
At the "town hall" debate scheduled for October 7, the questions are already promised to be from the audience or people on the Internet--not the moderator. Even so, the debate organizers should choose the top 25 questions that "bubble up" on the Internet "to ensure that the Internet portion of this debate is true bottom-up democracy," the letter says.WIRED: Google Launches Google Moderator For Presidential Debates
A group of plugged-in politicos recently petitioned the Commission on Presidential Debates to open up the general election debates to the public. In addition to asking that the CPD to make the video feed of the debates freely available, the group asked the commission to allow the public to select the questions to be posed to the candidates.PC MAG: Tech Leaders, Bloggers Call for Truly Open Debates
A collection of bloggers, political activists, and other technology luminaries sent a letter to both presidential candidates on Friday asking them to make the debates truly open to the public.GLENN REYNOLDS (INSTAPUNDIT): Just call me "Mr. Diversity"
TECH PRESIDENT: This Debate Belongs to You and Me
The ask? It's two-fold. The first is that the events' raw footage be released into the public domain. The second is that at least some questions should be chosen "town hall" style, using the Internet...ARSTECHNICA: Bipartisan coalition: debate footage must be public domain
The letter's signatories are a disparate group seldom found agreeing on much. They include Lawrence Lessig, Glenn "Instapundit" Reynolds, Craig Newmark (of the eponymous List), Arianna Huffington (of the eponymous Post), RedState cofounder Mike Krempasky, Wikipedia's Jimmy Wales, MoveOn executive director Eli Parisier, and former Bush/Cheney eCampaign director Patrick Ruffini.APPSCOUT: Lessig, Bloggers, Activists Call for Open Debates
The authors of the letter would like the ability to let the most popular questions "bubble up" to where they would be used in the debate.
Coincidentally, Google released a tool to do just that on Wednesday: Google Moderator...