I am sitting in my hotel room in the USA watching a fascinating CNN program which is a “debate” between the Republican leadership hopefuls. What is interesting is not what they are saying – usual political flim-flam that doesn’t really answer the questions.

Rather, the interesting bit is what is going on with the way the program is being produced. The questions being asked of the Republican candidates by members of the public. Their questions were all submitted via YouTube. These videos are then being broadcast on CNN itself. Meanwhile, at CNN.com, the whole debate is being discussed online in a blog, as well as a rolling “ticker”.

So “user generated content” has hit mainstream broadcast TV; and it is being used again to help produce a blog and further web pages. It is also creating a community of people whose questions have been chosen for broadcast, whose videos could attract more comment and answers than the CNN program can manage in just an hour.

The debate is likely to continue online in a multimedia way. Yet, will any of the old, grey-haired, wrinkled men (who are the candidates) get involved online? I doubt it – and that in itself probably tells us enough about their value as a president.

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