- Debating The Debate: From Hulu To Twitter, Pretty Much The Same

Staci D. Kramer
Wednesday, October 8, 2008; 1:07 AM

For the previous two debates I stuck mostly with the big flat screen TV. Tonight, I tried TV, Hulu on broadband, several channels on Verizon's ( NYSE: VZ) Mobile TV and even the #nashdebate Twitter scroll. The debate was pretty much the same across any medium: a very long Rorschach test. Some notes from the debate and the aftermath:

-- Online: Had to tune in for Hulu's first live streaming and it was seamless. I missed Hulu's usual DVR-like tools, which should be available in the on-demand version. The stream resolution was 480x360 with a bit rate is at 564kb/s. The result was a little fuzzy when I went full screen on my 11-inch Sony Vaio, which doesn't bode well for larger screens, but it was sharp in the player format. The only real miscue: Hulu stuck to its policy of showing ads. Yes, I saw a "public service" ad but it was disconcerting given the ad-less format the networks follow. Hulu's response when I asked? "All Hulu content is ad supported, including live streaming video."

-- TV: We watched the HD feed on CNN with live scorecards from various pundits on either side of the screen. Easy to ignore, but interesting when you want to look. Overall, though, a pretty busy screen when you add in the dial tester showing how a small group of undecided men and women in Ohio responded second by second.

-- Mobile: Verizon's Mobile TV had four channels devoted to the debate MSNBC, CNBC, CBS ( NYSE: CBS) and NBC. This kind of word-centric event actually comes across well on the very small screen, As long as the antenna is up, the images are crisp, the text is legible, and, in a way, with headphones in, it's easier to concentrate. It's a legit substitute for the big screen. The biggest gaps from the big-set experience? DVR, rewind and forward.

-- Twitter: Short attention span theater. Following the constantly updating scroll was like trying to nail jello to a wall, to borrow a phrase. Some amusing comments, some spot on, some way off key. Best read as you're watching if you can keep up, but good after the fact if you know the context. I get the emphasis on social interaction but?not singling out Twitter for this?am starting to wonder if there's too much noise during these debates overall. Everyone wants to be live, instant, pithy but how many people are really listening? What it does is level the pundit playing field?everybody gets a shot, not just the talking heads with mics on TV.

Quick hits: The running transcript on CNN, the instant video clips on multiple sites,'s Deal Journal live blogging only the "Wall Street" aspects.


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