An ideal moderator would be one of the few journalists who have covered this aspect of this campaign: Amy Schatz of WSJ, Linnie Rawlinson of CNN London, Ari Melber of The Nation, Nikki Schwab of US News and World Report, Farhad Manjoo of Salon, Sarah Lai Stirland on Wired's THREAT LEVEL, Tim Dickinson in Rolling Stone, Tim Lebrecht on iPlot. [The articles I link to give a good overview of this with a focus on the presidential campaign.]
Any of the following could be good topics:
- the different online approaches of the Obama, Clinton, McCain, and Ron Paul campaigns. It would be great to find a way to invite activists from each.
- the role of the big commercial social networks: Facebook*, MySpace, YouTube.
- issue-based advocacy, for example StepItUp and Courage Campaign's use of social networks for a variety of purposes
- the progressive blogosphere's successes -- and internal stresses, highlighted by alegre's criticism of the attacks on dissenting views
- the rise of the black blogosphere (see Reggie Royston's interview with Howard Witt for more)
- the impact of social networks on delegate selection (see the comments for discussion)
One of the reasons I think it's so important to cover this at CFP is so that we as a community can become more effective advocates for freedom and privacy. The huge amount of money and energy being poured into the current U.S. election cycle makes it a unique "lab" for examining the cutting edge campaigning techniques. Better understanding of this is vital for helping us influence technology policy.
* while not related to the US elections, Jennifer Woodard Maderezo's Facebook Becomes Catalyst for Causes, Colombian FARC Protest illustrates what can be done with today's Facebook