<p>During my time at <a href="http://techpresident.com">techPresident</a> I spent a lot of time <a href="http://www.techpresident.com/node/403">criticizing</a> and <a href="http://www.techpresident.com/blog/entry/14614/liveblogging_the_mtv_myspace_dialogue_with_john_mccain">praising</a> the efforts of folks like MySpace and YouTube to team up with old school media outlets like CNN and MTV to produce new kinds of participatory debates. Not all of the results were good (the first YouTube/CNN Democratic debate was a good start, b ut the subsequent Republican debate was a horror show), but it was clear that people were innovating and working hard within the self-imposed strictures of a static media industry.</p>

(We at techPresident also worked hard on our own version of an online debate, producing 10Questions.)

Such innovation was particularly on display at the MySpace/MTV candidate "dialogues," an update from MTV's old townhall-style sessions from the Clinton era. The dialogues used the full power of the social web to involve viewers and voters from across the country in a conversation with the candidates.

So one would expect that MySpace, which has clearly used their tools to push the envelope, would, uh, push the envelope. But it looks like the vice grip of the Commission on Presidential Debates has squeezed the fun and -- more importantly -- the democracy out of these newfangled debates.

Basically, the video of the Obama/McCain debates will be streamed and you can embed it. Golly!

Micah at techPresident registers the appropriate amount of outrage:

What they're offering us here is little more than live video streaming, which is like, so, year 2000. When you consider what YouTube and CNN did in the past year, along with what MySpace and MTV did, as well as what we did with 10Questions.com--in each case to expand voter participation in debates and in some cases open new kinds of feedback loops, you have to admit this is really disappointing. Honestly, it would almost be better if they didn't bother to include MySpace. (And one might want to ask, why only MySpace when plenty of other sites and services could provide this video service?)

Sigh. And things were getting so fun.