Saturday, October 11, 2008

The miracle of modern technology

Unless you've been living in a cave for the last year, you are fully aware that it's nearing election time in the USA. The hotly contested Democratic primary season between Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton was only the beginning of the chaos. Now that candidates have been chosen, campaigns are going full barrel and with less than a month to go before election day, voters are trying to get a feel for what each candidate has to offer. Voters, like me. This is why I've been so keen to watch the two Presidential and one Vice Presidential debates.

Being an Expat and living overseas means I'm out of the loop a bit when it comes to the American media cycle. I don't get to watch CNN or MSNBC or any of the American networks and listen to the American pundits talk about the election and what each candidate has said or done each day. Which in some ways, is probably not a bad thing. Living in Australia means I get to hear less of the he said-she said type of arguments going back and forth between campaigns, and more of the major announcements or general campaign themes. So when it was announced that there would be a series of debates between the candidates and their running mates, I was excited by the opportunity to see and hear them speak for themselves in detail about their platforms.

Luckily, all of the debates thus far have been broadcast live on Australian television. With the time difference, they come on at 11am here. I managed to watch the first Presidential Debate quite easily because it was on a Saturday morning. The Vice Presidential Debate was a bit trickier as I was at home, but had to convince the little people not to interrupt Mum for an hour and a half while I watched Palin and Biden go for it. The second Presidential Debate, however, was a different story. It was on at 11am on Wednesday morning our time. I had stuff to do. I was busy. I couldn't stop my day in the middle again to sit down for an hour and a half to watch Obama and McCain battle it out. I really wanted to watch, but there were kids to pick up and drop off. There was laundry to be done. Dishes to be washed. The house doesn't clean itself, y'all!

There is something about this particular election though, that is so compelling. So compelling that the guilt from missing this second debate was eating away at me. As the day went on, I kept wondering how it went. Who had won? Were there any memorable moments? What had I missed? Oh why hadn't I taken the time to watch it? Now I'll never know!

I do know though! That very night when all the little people around here were safely tucked in their beds, I went and asked my best friend, Google, to take me to the debate. She's a good friend, Google, and she didn't let me down. She took me to a New York Times website that had the entire video of the debate--all 90 minutes of it along with the complete transcript that sat in a box right next to it and automatically scrolled along with the debate. It was fantastic. Not only did I watch the debate, I read it too. If that wasn't cool enough, on the top of the screen was a bar that broke the debate down by topics and showed you how much time was spent on each topic and it moved along with the debate as well. Confused? Follow the link and have a look at the site yourself. It's fantastic.

So there I was last Wednesday night, curled up with a hot cup of tea watching the two candidates duke it out on my laptop. I could pause it at any moment, I could scroll up and down the text to read what they'd said. My options were endless. At some point during my fascination with this website, I stopped to think--isn't this incredible? Here I am sitting half a world away in Australia watching the candidates who are competing for the top job in my home country debate--not on television, but on the little screen of my laptop. Truly amazing.

Ah yes, the miracle of modern technology...

1 comment:

Annelise said...

I am glad you had the thought to go to you BFF google and catch it. However, you forgot the other marvelous technology of DVR. I know you can get your hands on one of those. They are wonderful! I love my DVR. :)

You know I don't give a darn about politics and all that mess. I have my opinions, strong ones at that, but don't feel the need to get into banter with all the people out there...but for the first time I actually found myself tuning into some potions of the debates. I fear it. WHo am I? haha. Now having said that all, I would love to be able to vote in the same state as you so that I could cancel your vote out! Luv ya HAM.