Ovc Opengov on Jun 19th, 2009 :: 0:15:24 to 0:24:53
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Views:1,938 Duration: 0:09:29 Discussion

0:15:24 to 0:16:28( Edit History Discussion )

Jake Brewer: C-SPAN is great because it allows the public to participate or to see what is going on in the halls of Congress as they debate.  An interesting thing that happened though, when C-SPAN launched, is that you started seeing things like giant rubber stamps.  You didn't actually see those in Congress before C-SPAN.  Because you put them on video, now people know they will be on video and they make these huge graphs and they make these huge stamps and they stomp and they do a lot more and they're much more animated.  On the house floor, they used to have much more open conversation and say "hey, by the way, this is what I need." "Hey! This is what I need, and why don't we just work this out.  We don't have to necessary grandstand."  So now it happens in club rooms, it happens in parties, it happens in other places.  [Abram Stern: I never see that stuff.]  You never see actual getting along and dialogue when you're flipping through C-SPAN.  The way we see that is that there's a whole ecosystem of influence as having an impact on people's lives all over the country from their congressional representatives, from their state representatives, from their local representatives on all these different levels.  It's our responsibility to figure out ways to make sure that that ecosystem of influence is brought to bear.

0:16:28 to 0:17:32( Edit History Discussion )

Jake Brewer: This is a crowd-sourced site, more or less; it's not as crowd-sourced as we like.  Absolutely, if you guys ever get an invitation to a party from a lobbyist, send it to us and we'll put it up.  The whole point is not to say "hey, by the way, it's awful that these guys are having a party," it's "just to let you know that your congressional representative, by the way, is going to a baseball game tomorrow night for $5,000."  Or "he got paid $5,000 by a lobbyist."  That lobbyist could say—anyone care about the climate or energy in this room?—let's say that you care about climate a whole lot, I come from that kind of clean energy and climate background and advocacy there, so I care a lot about it just as a personal example—if he's going to a baseball game (for $5,000) spending 3 hrs. just chatting about baseball, then also, "by the way, you want to throw us an earmark?"  That kind of stuff is happening all the time, and we just try to make it known that it's happening.  Then basically we try to work with journalists and other people to pull that out.  So that's an example of influence.

0:17:32 to 0:18:12( Edit History Discussion )

Jake Brewer: Now wouldn't it be awesome if you could also say, "now, here they are on video."  Here they are on even photographic stuff.  But getting that kind of thing involves a lot more people than we have.  It involves a lot more people than this room, obviously.  It involves platforms in order to get there, it involves actually looking at what the formats are and all the kind of data and real technical stuff is, which people in this room are really good at.  That's kind of the framework for the conversation and we've taken a lot of time setting the stage I suppose, but really from this point on, we want to listen more than speak as we chat about it.

0:18:12 to 0:18:48( Edit History Discussion )

Jake Brewer: The first part of this: you guys have seen two platforms that I think are really brilliant, at the starting point.  It's kind of the YouTube of politics to a certain degree, and across the board in a way, is kind of Capital Hub.  I hate when entrepreneurs from three years ago that would say "so it's kind of like, uuuh, it's like if you take del.icio.us and YouTube and Facebook and you put them all together?  That's what we do."  It doesn't make sense.  I hate describing things in terms of that, but [prefer to describe it] in terms of politics and how it relates to your actual government.

0:18:48 to 0:20:06( Edit History Discussion )

Then of course we've got MetaVid, which is now indexing stuff in really powerful ways, and creating this stuff.  It's also—correct me if I'm wrong—it's restricted to C-SPAN footage, so far.  You also have things like Google Audio Indexing, has everyone seen that?  This is one of those sites that not too many people know about, so you can search a word like 'economy' and it tells you—just scroll over the yellow here—it actually tells you the sentence in which it appears and then you can play the video.  He says it four, five times throughout that, so if you want to figure out who's taking about 'economy,' who's talking about 'energy,' who's taking about these different things, you can actually search for it.  You have some of these platforms starting to come out and they're necessarily not just C-SPAN, it's some of these other things in other places, but that's also highly restrictive.  If you talk to the guys that run the political division at YouTube they'll basically say "we can't get much more of this stuff."  "We can't index stuff that's happening on the street."

0:20:06 to 0:20:31( Edit History Discussion )

Jake Brewer: I'll finish my little bit with examples.  Can anyone think of examples of when this actually happened, where a citizen with a video camera did something that untimely resulted in accountability or action?  <Audience member: The "mukaka moment.">  Yeah, the fact that we can say that it was a mukaka moment for anybody now—"boy, that was almost a mukaka moment!"—first of all, I hate that we actually have to use that name.

0:20:31 to 0:21:04( Edit History Discussion )

Audience member: Oakland police [fatally] shot a person (Oscar Grant) in the back on a platform, and twenty people got it on cell phone cameras. Yup, so other political action. Obviously we have Iran going.  What others, as far as elected officials, specifically? Audience member: Trent Lott, Strom Thurmond. Yup.  Did anyone see Joe Biden talking about clean coal last year?  That was one of our organize rs, which we love that he said it then it totally screwed him.  What else, any others?

George Chriss

0:21:04 to 0:21:56( Edit History Discussion )

George Chriss: Well, I had a question, then also a partial answer to your question.  So going back to essentially the "cartoonification" of a politician when they see a video camera, and they're like "oh!  let me go grab my giant stamp and then let me really simplify the message beyond what it needs to be discussed at."  Something in my experience, I film as many meetings related to shared governance at The Pennsylvania State University that I can, so student governance, the university Board of Trustees, the student newspaper, the whole gamut, and actually what I've seen, gavel to gavel, is that people start becoming more professional, and they start choosing their words more carefully and [they] articulate their positions in really thoughtful ways and it's really been the opposite effect.  I'm wondering if there's any sort of way to knock off [over-]simplification.

0:21:56 to 0:24:09( Edit History Discussion )

Jake Brewer: Good question.  Real quickly I'll add the other example is the John McCain one.  <Audience member: Mayhill Fowler>.  Mayhill Fowler.  But really, I like this point too.  If those are all negative things, there's something also interesting that happens when you have video there and people know about it, which is that—anybody see what happened with the British government two weeks ago, parliament up in arms because basically the stuff they spent their money on was revealed by a FOIA [Freedom of Information Act] request, or that it was leaked early, and so you got two examples of what they basically wanted to have—I promise this is to your point, sometimes I go way over here, but I promise I'll come back—is that that they're spending money on moats on their château.  This is your tax dollars on my moat.   [U.K. audience member: My tax dollars.]  Yeah, your tax dollars, exactly, we're international today.

You kind of gotta believe—and as a result of that, by the way, Nancy Pelosi is now dictating that expenditure data is going to be online—we believe that data doesn't exist unless it's online—but we kinda gotta believe that if members of parliament had known that all of their stuff was going to be available and public and online, they probably wouldn't have spent money on a moat in the first place.  Right?  There's kind of two-fold things, there's both holding accountable ("by the way, Joe Biden, you said something wrong" or "by the way, George Allan..."), you probably would not have said "you said these things and we're going to hold you accountable for being really stupid," or for saying something bad, but also by doing this, we're creating an infrastructure where people are then kinda just better people.  Maybe.  Maybe not.  But by making it known that this is where it's going to be, or maybe we should just push them into the trench.  So these are the issues.

0:24:09 to 0:24:53( Edit History Discussion )

Jake Brewer: The first kind of way that we'll talk about it, if you'd rather not talk about something in this format, then just say "I'd rather not talk about it."  But there's some real technical issues, there's four big ones.  It's "technical," then you have one I call "creative"—that you can shoot all the video in the world, and unless it's compelling in any kind of way then it's kinda not real useful, or getting it to a point where somebody can actually watch it or getting it out there to real people is important.  There's "legal"  and there's "distribution."  I'm going to leave off the last two for the sake of the time we have.  But thinking about "what do we need in order to do this?"  "How is it that we can create these infrastructural components?"  Then "how do we get real people to participate and do this stuff?"  Any questions?

(Copied from the corresponding Internet Archive page.)

Discourse related to the promotion of free expression and innovation in online video.

Crowdsourcing an Open Government: Using Distributed Video to Hold the Elected Accountable

Jake Brewer — Engagement Director, Sunlight Foundation
Robert Millis — Capitol Hub
Abram Stern — Univ. of California, Santa Cruz & Metavid

2009 Open Video Conference

Session held at at 11:08 am on 20-June-2009
NYU Vanderbilt Hall, New York, NY


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