Back when a dozen people were vying for the presidency, I watched one of the debates at home alone, wishing I was in the company of people I respect to hear their thoughts.Quick searches found the live blogging to be either slower or noisier than I wanted.So as the presidential debates approached, I asked a tiger team at the station to come up a "live debate companion" fed by our top thinkers.For the first McCain/Obama debate, we had John Hockenberry, Brooke Gladstone, Brian Lehrer and Andrea Bernstein tweet into their own accounts, which were presented in a self-updating Twitter/Web solution called Monittor. In a separate window, we fed a steady update of any tweet worldwide that included the word "debate" or the candidates' names -- offering a living, breathing experience, with a nice feel. It was also easy to share across our websites and other stations.It turns out that the Twitterverse gets reeeeeallly slow during the debates, and that made the end result less interesting than we had hoped. Also -- hard to provide the trademark public-radio context in 140 characters.For the Palen/Biden debate, we switched to CoverItLive, which provided a rockin', real-time experience. We hit some (yet unknown) room capacity, but for those able to join, it really flowed well. We copy-pasted some analysis into tweets, too.Two strong signs we're on the right track:1) The next day, the critiques at the station, including a chunk of a Takeaway planning meeting, centered on the content of the event, not the technology.2) This:
[Comment From Chris, NYC]"Company." Bingo.We'll do it again Tuesday.UPDATED OCTOBER 14: We learned today that there 1026 people participated in the Live Debate Companion for the 2nd presidential candidates' debate. That's exciting.
This was a great experience. Thanks for your company.