The original wahlkampf98.de website is no longer available, so here's a bit of historic background information.
Luckily WIRED still has its article from 1998 up at
The Log of the famous Chat with Guido Westerwelle
Wahlkampf98 and politik-digital
Wahlkampf98.de started out as a content aggregation platform strictly limited to the spectacular 1998 election campaign in Germany that overthrew 16 years of Kohl regime.
Lars and Peer luckily got SPIEGEL magazine into the boat (their office being just across the bridge) and subsequently everyone else in the business permitted these young punks to extract all election-related news items from their sites.
The one-stop shop for election news turned out to be a huge success. As soon as that was up and running they walked up to lynX and asked.. Didn't you do a chat interview event last year with your fancy PSYC technology? Can we do that on a regular basis with german politicians?
Soon we had a media boom and huge popularity doing these event chat things interviewing politicians in real time online. We reached our first peak when we hosted a video chat with the head of the soon-to-be opposition, Guido Westerwelle. This was the first VIP video chat worldwide according to RealNetworks which hosted the video streams. They must know, since they brought the first video streaming technology to the Internet.<ref>Lars Hinrichs, co-founder of Wahlkampf98, politik-digital and later the social network Xing, made this statement in a public address at the ten years celebration for politik-digital.</ref>
After the elections we managed to keep the vibe going with the politik-digital project. People were still flocking into our large scale webchats, often with aggregated video stream, and we got pretty much every important person in and around german politics, except for the chancellor, and the minister of foreign affairs, to stand the test of independently moderated political questions.
The moderation technology itself was quite a feat. We had a team of people just pre-selecting the useful from the useless inputs, so that the final editor only had to pick the best of best questions.
The servers itself were running prototype PSYC protocol between each other and the moderation technology.
|President Johannes Rau|
The T-Online editors got very psyched at seeing us invent this new editorial format in-between interview, chat and television show. They announced each of our events to their huge subscriber audience, boosting our popularity.
At a point they turned to lynX and asked if they could license the technology for non-politics related event chats. That's when symlynX was created (luckily lynX had kept the copyrights to the psyced software, mainly with the intent of open-source publication) and the event chat story really took off.
The politik-digital platform has never again reached the peak number of participants of the early days.
Links in English
Direct democracy research paper mentioning chats and Wahlkampf98
Links in German
Media announcement of the first Wahlkampf98 Chat
Alternative media award for politik-digital