I think we’d all agree the YouTube/CNN debate was a milestone.
While having little impact on the answers the candidates gave, the introduction
of video questions via YouTube brought a much more personal and emotional
intensity to the process, more so even than the “town hall” versions. It also
showed us “real” Americans…warts and all in the privacy and security of their
own homes. I think there were even more milestones.
Of course we could have done it years ago. Heck, Bob Saget
made a great career out of showing us personal video…warts (not to mention
skating parrots) and all. We could record video on our VHS cameras and send it
in a box to a TV show. Why didn’t this happen until now? It’s simple…timing,
technology and, frankly, marketing.
Back in the tape days, video was all about special events
and entertainment. The only time we busted out the camera was to save that
wedding, that first bike ride, or that shot of Grandma taking a header into her
birthday cake. Now, video is with us everywhere. Take a look at your cell phone.
Years ago, the technical pieces weren’t in place. (A concept not wasted on the
founders of YouTube themselves.) Now anyone can capture a moment and, through
the magic of inexpensive or free video editing software, can inject all the
emotion and artistry they care to. Then just upload it on the computer for the
entire world to see. It just doesn’t take much of our time to be part of the
Also, through outlets like CNN, that new technology is all
the buzz. Video is not just about entertaining ourselves anymore. It’s about communicating.
Hey, this is serious stuff. (Sorry Bob.) That’s the marketing piece.
Look, not everyone is producing videos. Just note the fact
that there were only 1500-3000 videos submitted (depending on the source you
use), kind of a small number in the great scheme of the World Wide Web, let
alone YouTube. These forays into the Web world won’t change the way we elect
our public officials, at least not yet. But if the marketing of video debates,
all the talk and all the hype will get more people to participate in the process
that’s truly a milestone to be grateful for.