The White House announced today that President Obama will be hosting the first “official Presidential Google Hangout” today at 5:30 Eastern. Using a combination of the White House’s YouTube channel to take in questions and Google Hangout for a live conversation with selected participants, this event will mark a digital first for those have served from the White House.

If you are looking to get involved or simply want to tune in check out the details, via Google Politicshere.

(Photo credit: Whitehouse.gov)

(Source: KoPoint)

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Corey McCarren

That is really cool, and a huge +1 for G+. Is anybody able to just like “sit in” on the hangout to watch even if their questions weren’t chosen?

Chris Poirier

@Corey Honestly, looks like things will be limited on the actual hangout. They did the same thing for State of the Union. The hangout it’s self appeared to be “invite only”, google hangout does have a limit, but they recorded the entire event to my understanding. Will be interesting to see how it all works out in the end.

Corey McCarren

Ah that makes it a little bit less exciting then, but still cool regardless. I haven’t used Google+ as much as I’d like to because it hasn’t been adopted very widely, but I like the platform and simplicity a lot.

Andrew Krzmarzick

The big problem: I believe Hangouts are limited to just a few people…10 maybe? Seems like they’d get significant drop-off if people can’t get their chance on video within a few minutes…

Chris Poirier

@Andrew, yeah that is the basic problem, limitations of the tool they are using. It begs the question of if you should use the tool at all. Yes, using the new shiny toy is awesome, but if it doesn’t meet the goal then why use it at all? You already have YouTube and whitehouse.gov to push content, why force it into another model when the model wasn’t designed for that purpose? Record the event, like they plan to any way, and post via all their normal distribution points. The only thing different is now it has a Google logo on it 😉

Don’t get me wrong, I like they are reaching out and trying different things, but its the age old problem of forcing your ideas into a model that was never designed for that purpose.

…just saying: http://christopherpoirier.com/2011/12/01/taking-the-2-0-out-of-technology/

Terrence (Terry) Hill

I voted on questions early on on the White House YouTube Channel (below), but now that 228,008 people have submitted 133,216 questions and cast 1,630,646 votes, I’m overwhelmed! However, I’ll be tuning into the discussion tonight on the White House YouTube channel or White House Live. I’m proud of the President for demonstrating his innovation and creativity in reaching out to the public. His office is a great example for us all!


Dan Israel

Just to clear up any confusion about hangouts work. Anyone who is interested (no limit on # of people) will be able to watch the hangout on the White House Google+ page:


The number of people who will actually be on screen & visible in the hangout is limited. Currently, you can’t have more than 10 people in a hangout at once.

Hope that helps. Let me know if there are more questions about hangouts.

Chris Poirier

That’s a good point @dan , but a true victory here would be an actual town hall style event. As stated, awesome event..but baby steps towards full citizen engagement.

Terrence (Terry) Hill

Watching the Hangout session now. Lots of thought-provoking questions and dialogue. I hope everyone had a chance to participate, at least as a passive observer. Masterful use of the new technology – Google+ and YouTube. Powerful media. I hope that all agency heads follow suit. This is much better than the traditional “town hall” meeting, which is not a dialogue, but a lecture.

Terrence (Terry) Hill

@Peter – I don’t think that there was much screening done last night. In fact, there were some hard-hitting questions from the in-person/hangout audience, as well as YouTube questions about issues like unemployment, student loans, and other mostly economy-related questions. I recommend that everyone take a look at the future of town-hall meetings @



What did people like/dislike about format?

What was the setup in terms of taking/asking questions (I was on the road and missed it)? Was there a moderator person who took the questions and asked Obama? Were they both on screen?

Terrence (Terry) Hill

You can see a replay of the session @

http://www.youtube.com/user/whitehouse?feature=g-all-u. Yes, there was a moderator, but he did not dominate the conversation and the other hangout participants were not shy about challenging the President. You can see both the President and the citizen. I really like this new format of using hangouts. I think it would be great for team meetings and smaller town hall meetings.

Janina Rey Echols Harrison

Another blog I was reading said there wasn’t any screening for the SOTU. Why would he set up screening for this activity?