HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
July 30, 2007, Herald Journal

YouTube takes center stage during debates


CNN had that little clock counting down in the lower right corner of my television screen.

The clock was ticking down the hours, minutes and seconds to the start of the Democratic debate broadcast last Monday evening.

The previous week whenever I watched CNN, I was being told about this upcoming “first ever,” and “revolutionary” experiment using the fourth most visited website on the Internet each day.

Along with being this humble columnists favorite, it is the Internet’s most popular online depository of videos. Yes, I am speaking about YouTube.

YouTube, located at: http://youtube.com/ is an online video sharing website where users can upload, view, and share audio-video clips.

I did find the thought of using videos from everyday citizens who downloaded them to YouTube for CNN to use as candidate questions rather noteworthy, as this is the first time it was done.

This type of format also seems to be of interest to many of the young people, based on the number of them that submitted videos for the debate. It’s great seeing the younger generation becoming actively involved in the political process.

Over 3,000 people posted their video questions on YouTube for the CNN/YouTube Democratic debate. There were 39 of them shown and commented on.

According to a story on the CNN website, “Though CNN vetted [examined] the question; it was the first time that a journalist or a professional has not dictated what is asked of the candidates.”

Was the CNN/YouTube debate really a new form of electorate “video democracy?”

“Tonight is really something of an experiment,” CNN’s moderator Anderson Cooper told the audience at the start of the debate.

Remember those “Town Hall” meetings? The people asking the questions could engage the candidate with a follow up or a comment.

After the debate was over, CNN did interview a couple of people who provided YouTube videos that were played to get their reaction about the candidates answers.

Some of those video questions used were very serious with powerful and important messages; some were amusing . . . like the global warming video question asked by “Billiam the Snowman,” which was sent in by a couple of brothers from Minnesota.

If you want to see the video of Billiam, just go to YouTube and search for “Billiam the Snowman CNN/youtube.”

I think the advantage of using YouTube for this was the ease of being able to record your video message using a camcorder, or your computer’s own webcam and microphone.

Those “YouTubers” could then watch CNN to see if their video was selected to be played for the candidates to answer or comment on.

Recently I learned that there will be a couple of “YouTube-Ready” cameras coming out next month from Casio. A press release on the Casio website stated that they have an agreement with YouTube to include a unique “YouTube Capture” mode with bundled software which will provide the settings for recording, storing and uploading video with the new Exilim digital cameras, the EX-S880 (8.1 mega pixels) and the EX-Z77 (7.2 mega pixels).

For more information on these new cameras, just go to http://www.casio.com/ and look at the July 10, 2007 press release on their home page.

I like the video from one YouTuber, which asked the candidates to look to their left and say one thing about that person they liked and one thing they disliked.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to have people call in and ask their questions with the opportunity to follow up after a candidate answered?

I can imagine CNN’s Larry King announcing, “Tonight a special Larry King show . . . this evening the candidates are taking your phone calls.”

You may remember my column from October of last year; I wrote about Google buying YouTube for around $1.65 billion in stock.

The offer was reportedly accepted in a booth at a Denny’s restaurant near YouTubes’ headquarters in San Bruno California.

Google is a nine-year-old company, while YouTube has been around for over two years.

The people that founded YouTube Inc. were Chad Hurley, 30 and Steve Chen, 29.

Since YouTube was started in Chad Hurley’s garage in February 2005, it has grown into an online social community that today shows more than 100 million video clips per day.

It is also interesting to note the website Alexa, http://www.alexa.com/ which measures Internet website traffic, shows YouTube is ranked number four, just behind Google, MSN and number one ranked Yahoo.

So, where does this all finally lead too? To the next CNN/YouTube debate, of course.

September 17, if you’re watching CNN, look for that little clock counting down the hours, minutes and seconds until we are presented with the Republican candidates reaction to some CNN/YouTube debate questions.