Gordon’s on YouTube – wanting you

The PM is doing a sort of PMQT (Prime Minister’s Question Time) on YouTube, there is still time to submit your question – off you pop.

I am intrigued as to what will be achieved by this, apart from an apparent attempt at transparency. It might work, however, this is not real time, it is a recording of a question followed by a recording of an answer – both of which will be editable, deletable, re-doable &c &c until each party (questioner and respondee) are happy. This is very luxurious and feels a bit BBC in the 1950s: terribly proper and heavily edited.

I am presuming that he will receive the questions (or an official will) and a response will be drafted then read out on YouTube with Scottish aplomb – kind of like an interview with a question being asked and an answer provided two days later – except that we can delete the awkward silence.

I LOVE the fact that the text alongside the video invites you to ‘ask the Prime minister about whatever is on your mind’ – of course I immediately feel childish and chuckle a bit at the responses this might illicit. This is completely over-ruled by the PM who suggests we ask him anything, such as: ‘How globalisation is working? What is happening about Climate Change?’ I have a feeling that the questions will be more targeted and personal (not to the PM, but personal to ourselves), well I hope they will be.

I do like the fact that the questions will be ranked according to audience opinion, the ones with the most votes moving to the top of the heap and guaranteed an answer. However, I suspect that any ones that are too awkward will not be put into the pile for voting (or am I too cynical?). You can submit questions until June 21st, but can rank questions from May 26th. This seems slightly unfair on the ones posted later, as they will inevitably receive less votes – especially as the promised response from the PM is ‘the end of June’ – so no point really submitting anything on the 21st (unless you vote for yourself a lot!)

It is off-putting that there is no date given for the response, I accept that this will be because of diary commitments, but it should be easy enough to sift and sort the questions and fit Gordon’s recording of the response within a defined period of time. Again, it makes me query the validity of this and the confidence Downing Street has in being able to ensure this is not an enormous flop (at best) and supremely damaging (at worst) to the PM.

Hmm… I am reserving judgment on this – no doubt great use of media, but there is a risk that it will be far too ‘spun’ and ‘down with the people’.

We will see.

Here is the link: http://uk.youtube.com/downingst

PS Sorry, committing a blogging sin here by adding something after I have posted – however, what would make this fabulous, would be if we could have something on YouTube that shows a behind the scenes of GB watching the responses, and chatting with his advisors, then preparing the response – that would be really, really cool (and would achieve much to negate the concerns I think people will have). Just a suggestion🙂

6 responses

  1. I think your analogy of the Beeb in the 50’s is right. It’s all so very comfy. “Ask me anything you like” he says from his leather armchair, puffing sedately on his pipe, turning to his butler and chuckling about how quaint the prolls are when then pick u0p- crumbs from his table… The problem is that no-one seriously believes that a) questions will REALLY be answered but more importantly that b) anything will happen on the basis of it. The power-full know that YouTube may shift the discursive agenda (when it is under the control of its users, crowdsourcing ideologies and hegemonic blocs) but there is a lag before that emerges in policy. A walkaround shaking videos and kissing webcams is not good enough. Far better (he says brandishing his Conversation Audit/Atrtractor idea) to really listen to the conversations and then join in where appropriate rather than demanding they come to you.

  2. Paul, I am a bit wary of the conversation audit tracking thing with a ‘joining in’ bit when apt… this really does smack of big brother. If you are to use YouTube for anything other than videos of stuff the PM has done, speeches &c, then it would be far more authentic if it was recording him sifting and discussing with advisors what the answer to the question – followed by a response to camera. The social tools do not lend themselves very well to formal ‘to camera’ action… I don’t know

  3. There’s an interesting question about the level of openness and accountability that politicians (and civil servants) are prepared to expose themselves to. The YouTube experiment would almost certainly require some kind of filtering, as an entirely humiliating and spurious set of questions could easily result from a popular vote. I agree that openness about the process would probably be the best way to remove the air of artifice that results from that control.

  4. Sorry but the cynic in me can see straight through this to it being just another case of politician jumping on the bandwagon of technology.

    From the YouTube website
    “YouTube is the world’s most popular online video community, allowing millions of people to discover, watch and share originally-created videos. YouTube provides a forum for people to connect, inform, and inspire others across the globe and acts as a distribution platform for original content creators and advertisers large and small.”

    Anything that is scripted, clipped and snipped is not YouTube material.
    I want to see small fluffy cats in washing machines, cocacola and menthos experiments and old ladies at weddings “going home now I am” (Peter Kay) on YouTube. (OK I was joking about the cats).

    Gordon – please try harder.
    A politician joining in on Twitter banter or doing a live Qik video – now THAT’S authentic, “originally-created” conversational pieces – they will get my vote!

  5. Great idea about to show the reaction of the PM watching the videos. It would really help if government was able to show how citizen participation is received.

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