The first Google Plus Hangout from The White House with a sitting president was watched by hundreds of thousands of people* online earlier tonight.
My immediate takeaway? The forum featured real questions on significant issues, with genuine citizen-president interactions, with back and forth conversation. That was precisely the promise of the platform that I considered ahead of time, when I asked whether a Google+ Hangout could bring the president closer to the citizens he serves.
Overall, I can honestly say that we saw something new in the intersection of government, technology and society. From where I sat, plugged in within the Sunlight Foundation, it felt like a good thing, not just for the White House or the president’s campaign or Google (although all certainly benefitted) but for the promise of the Internet to more directly connect public officials to those that they serve, with all of their real problems, concerns, doubts and fears.
Earlier in the afternoon, I joined Google’s Daniel Sieberg on our own Google+ Hangout to talk about the potential impact that online video, hangouts, and live broadcasts between citizens and their elected officials could have on the political landscape.
A full review of the first presidential Hangout is over on my personal blog. Did you watch? Participate? What did you think?
Viewership estimate via Google’s Steve Grove, who said at the end of the netcast that a quarter of a million people were watching on YouTube. Given the White House’s own livestream, the number could be higher.