Wednesday, July 25, 2007

YouTube debate brings Yoosk’s concept of crowd sourced interviews into the mainstream

Yesterday's YouTube / CNN debate which involved members of the public putting questions directly to US democratic primary candidates showed the concept of crowd sourced interviews that Yoosk will deliver has mass appeal.

We feel vindicated- we have had a number of comments, including from professional journalists, that cast doubt on whether the whole idea was feasible. Some said the public would trivialise issues by asking silly or obscene questions. Others thought that public figures would be shy of answering questions directly from the public.

In the press and the blogosphere, on the matter of YouTube's debate the jury still seems to be out. The BBC are asking if it is hype or history. Wired report that reaction 'runs the gamut from praise to contempt'. Colin Delaney writing on techPresident was impressed. What many bloggers were agreed upon was that not allowing YouTube users to select the most popular questions was disappointing. In other words, this was half-way there, but not a true crowd sourced interview.

Personally, I’m actually not sure the video format for submitting questions works that well -aren’t we getting a little obsessed with the medium? If YouTube had allowed the public to vote and choose the questions to be asked, then how likely would it be that many people would have browsed 3000+ 30 second clips? And if the format is here to stay, as seems likely, then next time around there could be tens of thousands of submissions- voting on these could become very problematic. I agree that for TV, the questions do work well on video, although if the questioner was there in the studio and could ask follow up questions, then we'd have genuine dialogue. Some were there in Charleston, but not all.

Writing may not be as sexy as video posts, but questions in text form are far more browsable and the process of writing questions enables people to edit and hone. Submitting questions by text is also more inclusive. True, video cameras are far cheaper than they used to be but how many members of the excluded sections of society have access to them? Isn't there also the risk that in future competitions using video, that those making the selections are biased by style and quality of production over content?

We plan to add video to Yoosk very soon, but we still believe that text questions have many advantages and that video creates its own barriers to democratic participation.

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