“Hack the Debate” is a joint effort of CurrentTV (the network founded by former Vice President Al Gore) and Twitter.com for all the debates in the US presidential election this month (hat tip to Stephanie Tuszynski and Anders Fagerjord on the Association of Internet Researchers listserv).

This means that if you watch the debate on CurrentTV, you’ll see running commentary of live “tweets” along with the regular broadcast. The way it works is some producer working over at CurrentTV will be working “backstage” during the debate and selecting messages from Twitter and sending those to go live and appear on your TV screen at home. (The backend of this is very similar to the job I used to have in the IT-world, back when I was producing live online events, but I digress.)

While Current and Twitter are both promoting this as a “first” time this has ever been done, it’s not. In fact, these sorts of short messages (SMS) over television has been common in Norwegian TV for at least five years now, possibly more. You can read more about it here:

Enli, Gunn. “Gatekeeping in the New media Age: A case Study of the Selection of Text-Messages in a Current Affairs Programme.” Javnost – The Public 2007;Volume 14.(2) s. 47-63