NY Times’ Debate Analyzer and Hillary’s Excruciating Moment
The argument over Hillary Clinton’s recent debate utterances on illegal aliens’ drivers licenses continues. But if you want to get the raw data to inform your opinion on what-she-said and what-they-said, you can use one of the most ingenious interactive tools to have emerged during this political season: The New York Times’ “Debate Analyzer.”
This tool presents a visual rendering of who said what during the debate, with popups of the transcript for each speaker’s comments. It’s easy to see immediately where Hillary misstepped and her competitors pounced so quickly.
Look at the sixth column from the left. See all those tiny lines gathered together about two-thirds of the way down? Each represents a different speaker making a comment; visually you can tell each comment is fairly brief. (Compare it to the longer chunks of speech represented elsewhere on the graphic.) Even if you didn’t know what happened during the debate, just by scanning the graphic visually you can tell someone’s in trouble.
Now pass your mouse down into that exchange and start at 1:39:44 (1 hour, 39 minutes and 44 seconds). That’s where Brian Williams tees up the question about what Clinton had previously said about New York Gov. Mark Spitzer’s plan to grant driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants. Next you’ll find Hillary’s dodge of an answer.
Now pass your mouse down the page one line at a time and witness the longest 2 minutes and 30 seconds of Hillary’s ’08 campaign, if not her life as a political rhetorician.
My point is that the Hillary Learns to Drive moment provides a perfect opportunity to see how powerful well-deployed web technology can be in political journalism.
The Debate Analyzer is not even a “Web 2.0” application–no “wisdom of the crowds,” social community, collaborative knowledge, blahblahblah. Let’s call it “Web 1.99999”: perhaps one of the most evolved applications of interactive visualization of important political content to date.
It provides the raw material for political debate in an unprecedented manner. You want the tools of democracy at voters’ fingertips? You’ve got it here.
As for the content analysis, I’ll leave that to others.