After the popularity of the Leaders' Debate last night, people are asking why it didn’t happen sooner.
But you know what? I think it’s come at just the right time. If it had happened during the last election, we’d never have had the luxury of real-time mapping and Wordle clouds (and no, I’m not referring to a real-time map of the spread of Icelandic volcanic ash. But if you want to see one, check this out).
So, real-time mapping... Simon Buckingham Shum is a rather clever lecturer who resides in the Open University’s Knowledge Media Institute (KMi), our research and development lab. He created a tool that maps out the different contributions made by the three leaders using Compendium. By zoning in on the main points each candidate made, it cleverly highlights the most contentious topics using red challenges links, plus shows the areas where the leaders were most consensual, using green supports links.
Something he pointed out on the KMi blog this morning was how the map shows very clearly how Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg (who incidentally came out top on polls from last night’s debate) sought to move beyond the traditional Labour-Tory face-off and opened up totally new space by specifically questioning his opponents’ policies.
[Image: Open University KMi]
Other useful tools include the ITV Wordle Cloud which highlights the words used most by the candidates in the debate. Interesting how Cameron and Clegg both used "think" a lot - in the sense of "I think" or "we think" - yet Brown barely used it. We had to chuckle in the Open2.net offices when we also noticed “overspeaking” appearing in all three clouds - a stage direction rather than a word they used, but an indication of how often the rules were broken...
I'm sure there'll be more tools like these as the election draws closer...
Find out more
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