Monday, January 23, 2012

Google+ Scores President Obama In A Hangout

Guess who's on Google+?

Ok, so you've probably already heard that President Barack Obama will conduct a 45-minute video hangout on Google+ after his State of the Union speech Tuesday night.

This is not the president's first foray into social media. Not by a long shot. In fact, in 2008 Obama's campaign showed the real political power of social media by raising millions of dollars via their online campaign, setting the stage for what has become a war of digital dollars on the Internet.

The Google+ Hangout will allow the president to take questions and respond directly to constituents. The video Q&A has become a hallmark of the Obama Presidency. He conducted video Q&A sessions in 2009, 2010 and 2011 via YouTube. In each of those years, hundreds of thousands of questions were submitted and he answered a select few based on time constraints and the popularity of the question.

However, grassroots democracy can be trying at times. For instance. In 2009, nearly all the highest rated questions related directly to the drug policy. Specifically the legalization of marijuana. That happened again in 2010 and again in 2011. All of this despite problems with the national debt, unemployment, the housing market, the state of the global economy, the state of the national economy and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So, when the president is hanging out on Google+ tomorrow night, after his State of the Union speech, I envision a town hall type chat where most of the questions will be posted by people who like to hang out on Google+. I predict questions about SOPA and PIPA, Internet freedom; questions about the take-down of MegaUpload.com and about the current case against Julian Assange.

No matter what happens, this president has clearly set a precedent for online engagement that I believe is very likely to be followed by future presidents, regardless of what digital media they use to accomplish it.

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