Some Favorite Sites
Government/ Community Links
Campaign Enters Fourth Dimension
by Thomas MacMillan | Oct 2, 2013 7:07 am
Posted to: Media, Campaign 2013
A voter tweeted the candidate a question about cops in schools. The candidate shared his answer on video with people “hanging out” via Google. Others watched the exchange on YouTube; some of them emailed more questions.
There was a phone number, too, but that was so last decade. No one called.
It was a new media moment, a possible glimpse of the future of 21st-century campaigning.
The moment happened Tuesday evening during a “Public Safety Digital Town Hall” meeting organized by the Justin Elicker’smayoral campaign. The event took place not in a church basement or in a high school cafeteria, but in cyberspace. It existed simultaneously on several media platforms: Tweets, emails, multiple live video feeds, email, and a PowerPoint-style animated presentation. Click the play arrow to watch the hour-long event.
Elicker is running for mayor as an independent against Democratic state Sen. Toni Harp. The election is on Nov. 5.
Tuesday’s cyberspace con-fab was not just a modern multi-modal media mash-up, but an example of the kind of communication and connectivity that Elicker said he hopes to bring to City Hall. Elicker said “digital” meetings are one way he’d like to see the city take advantage of new technologies to bring more people into public policy discussions.
Here’s how the digital meeting worked: The centerpiece was a Google Hangout , a form of online video-conferencing, that began at 8 p.m. Elicker, sitting in the home of a campaign supporter, spoke into a computer equipped with a video camera. He was able to see, via live video, and interact with up to 10 other people, who could join the Hangout from their home computers.
Meanwhile, others could watch a live stream of the Hangout on YouTube or through an embedded video feed on the Elicker campaign website. Viewers could join the discussion by tweeting at Elicker, sending him an email, or calling a phone number.
Elicker received about two dozen tweets and a number of emails. But no phone calls, of course.
It’s not, like, 2005 anymore. Come on.
A traditional town hall meeting might start with some ground rules: Please turn off your cell phones; keep your questions brief. Tuesday’s digital town meeting began similarly, except the rules were different: Please mute your computer microphone to avoid feedback, unless you’re asking a question. If you’ve asked your question, please switch over to the YouTube feed to open up a spot in the Google Hangout.
Elicker started off with a presentation he made with an online, cloud-based PowerPoint-like program called Prezi. He talked about his vision for public safety improvements as he clicked through animated text, images, and graphs. Twice he played YouTube video testimonials from supporters (pictured) within the animated live-streaming video presentation, adding yet another layer of media to the experience.
The subject of the evening was public safety. Elicker praised Chief Dean Esserman’s community policing efforts and his data-driven approach. He talked about making more, smaller policing districts, and trying to collect a greater percentage of traffic fine payments from tickets issued by New Haven cops. (Currently, 90 percent of the fine money goes to the state.) He talked about block watches, walking beats, prison reentry, youth programs, and inter-agency collaboration.
Then he spent about 40 minutes answering questions from Hangout participants, tweeters, and emailers. The Hangout participants were largely people close to the campaign. Elicker supporters Julia Silberman, Rebecca Turcio, and Tim Holahan were logged on.
“There were a number of supporters,” Elicker said later, and “a handful of people I didn’t know.”
At 9 p.m. Elicker wrapped up the event by acknowledging that many people don’t have access to all the social media tools involved. He stressed that digital meetings are just one way the campaign is reaching out to people, a method that the city could take advantage of.
“This is only one way of communicating,” he said. “As a city, I don’t think we try very hard to use as many avenues as possible to engage the public.”
“Thanks so much for participating,” Elicker said. People patched in through Google Hangout raised their hands and waved goodbye, using the oldest form of farewell in the newest media.
Afterward, in an old-fashioned phone call, Elicker reflected on the experience.
“It went well,” he said, before listing several improvements he’d like to make next time. First: Notify people earlier and increase participation. Second: “I need a moderator.” It was hard to keep track of information coming in from so many sources. Third: Make it more interactive next time, more like a conversation and less like a Q&A session.
Elicker said he 75 viewers watched the live stream on YouTube.
“It was really fun,” Elicker said. “I hope that we get some feedback about other ways that we can use it.” Elicker mused about using the format to hold virtual office hours for his aldermanic constituents to video-chat with him. Or it could be a good way to “educate people on a new policy” or do any kind of informational presentation, he said.
Tags: google hangout, Justin Elicker, new media
Post a Comment
I had the opportunity to watch the live stream of Justin Elicker’s Townhall. It amazes me that he can still find new ways to be open and transparent with New Haveners. If you run for public office, you’ve got to be available to the public. I appericated the opportunity to learn a great deal about Justin’s policies. Everytime I hear Justin speak I learn so much and am a more informed citizen for having done so.
Excellent forum, and Elicker should be commended for using it. How his visions, which are excellent will be translated into action is far more complicated than how he makes it seem. He has huge potential, but New Haven, and I can only wish it were, is not so simple of a place to get things accomplished that in the dream phase look perfect.
One example that has failed miserably was the original introduction of CB policing by Pastore/Esserman. The critical failure is they “threw the baby out with the bath water”. I know that is an ancient phrase, but their failure to discern what was in place and working well, from purging everything and anything they suspected as being part of old regimes caused them far more harm than good. Part of it was their perception that everyone within the department when they arrived lacked good intentions for the people of New Haven. In their hyper paranoid state the PD was very much like what happened with the Red Scare and the McCarthy era
Elicker will have to have a clear visions so he can decipher who works for the city, and gives their all to serving the people of the city, regardless of who is in charge. This is easier said than done, as it takes time, years, to fully understand all the personalities and politics of the hundreds of people and groups he will need help from to make his plans a reality.
Again, and not to be critical, but just factual, all one has to do is look at the parade of men who have run the PD, who came in from all over the country, or were islands to themselves within the New Haven community that failed to be able to lead New Haven out of the bloodshed that has plagued it for 30 years. The current chief is another example of strangers appointed to lead that cannot get it done for a lack of time actually spent working for New Haven, and building up the trust and understanding of the folks that live a life of unselfish service to all the people of New Haven. thank you.
I thought this was an amazing way to reach out to everyone. At the end of a day I know I am too tired to go to a Mayors meeting. And to be able to do a live chat like this is a great way to included more people that just do not have the time or energy to get out.
He talked about a lot of issues with safety many of the solutions I agree with. I was able to let him know that I did not agree with one totally. And to be able to have that kind of direct communication with a mayor is only going to make this city stronger. To even set It up so that Alderman can have one every month to touch base with the people is a great idea. Even department heads. There are endless possibilities.
One thing I do like about Elicker is he does not candy coat. He does not make idol promises. He come up with solutions. When answering the question about the a tech person for the PD he touched base on the fact that we cannot afford new hires right now. But he will be reviewing ways to make all department more efficient and more citizen friendly. I am sure each of us has a few suggestions for that
I am looking forward to the next one. I do think a little more notice is needed but other wise my feedback is it was a great tool to communicate to many and allow them to ask questions and offer solutions. A++
To me, this kind of event characterizes the sort of modern and imaginative thinking that Elicker could bring to the office of mayor, and is representative of how he could help New Haven realize its potential (of which it has a lot) as a 21st-century city.
Unfortunately, he is up against a very old-fashioned sort of machine politics which, especially in a one-party town, still can be, and here in New Haven is, very effective.
It is going to have to be voters who decide when they are ready to move into the future instead of being stuck in the same old, same old, past.