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Arts and Entertainment

LAist Interview: Chloe Sladden from Current TV on 'Hack The Debate'

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We hope you have been watching the Presidential and Vice Presidential debates. If you've been watching, have you been using Twitter to throw your opinion into the micro-blogosphere as the debate happens? Current TV has teamed up with Twitter to produce "Hack the Debate", which melds "tweets" and live television during the debates. You can watch the broadcast on either your local distributed access to Current (here's the schedule and listings) or watch Current TV online.

The next debate is tonight at 6:00pm. To participate, you need a Twitter account and you need the account to be in the public timeline. You need to put a "#current" somewhere in your tweet for it to go into the review stream. It also helps if you follow Current on Twitter. This blogger has participated in all the debates but we have yet to see a tweet of ours make it to the broadcast - perhaps we should cut down on the expletives and non sequiturs. But we swear that we've seen some friends' tweets make it through the review process and appear on live television.

We had the chance to talk with Chloe Sladden, Vice President of Special Programming Projects at Current, as they prepared for today's debate. For a more detailed description of the technology breakthroughs achieved for the "Hack the Debate" project, please listen to the full audio podcast below.

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LAist: Chloe, how did the "Hack the Debate" initiative come about?

Chloe Sladden/Current TV: We wanted to do something different for the debates, and were inspired by all the mircoblogging going on during the DNC and RNC conventions, so we got in touch with Twitter and told them about our idea to display tweets during our broadcast of the debates.

They were excited about the idea and it took off from there.

LAist: What do people have to do in order to participate?

Chloe Sladden/Current TV: It's really easy. All people have to do is register with Twitter and submit tweets during the debates. People can watch us on TV or online to see all the tweets that make it to the air.

By putting "#current" at the end of your tweet, you essentially mark it and it has a better chance of making it to the screen.

LAist: How does Current prepare for an event of this magnitude?

Chloe Sladden/Current TV: The technology is in place, using Flash programming we created with Adobe, so that was the most critical part.

Once we had the technical ability to post tweets on TV, the rest is a matter of making sure the tweets that make it on air meet our community standards during each debate. There is a terrific team working on "Hack the Debate" and we continue to work to refine our processes to make it the best viewing experience possible.

LAist: What are some of the most amusing tweets you've seen cross the screen during the debates [+any other anecdotes]?

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Chloe Sladden/Current TV: Due to the volume of tweets, not all the tweets make it to air, but we've seen some pretty interesting ones, as you might expect from the tweet demographic.

We have seen tweets about drinking games to Sarah Palin bingo, heartfelt comments with personal stories about healthcare, tweets about Obama being the perfect college professor and comments about how John McCain looks a lot like your grandfather at Thanksgiving dinner.

LAist: Are there future Current/Twitter events planned?

Chloe Sladden/Current TV: I think we've started something really great here, and we will definitely look at the possibility of allowing people to submit tweets for TV for future programming.

The next "Hack the Debate" will start tonight at 6:00pm.

"Hack the Debate" screenshot off of Current TV