"The first-ever presidential forum on Twitter was undercut by the commander-in-chief himself, as President Obama answered questions from average Americans with a tide of talking points that went uninterrupted and unchallenged, short-circuiting the event’s populist potential," summarizes the Boston Herald's Jessica Van Sack, who watched Twitter Founder Jack Dorsey's "Twitter Town Hall" so we didn't have to. Above, a comely attendee lifts her iPad beside the East Room door at what one critic who blogs at Harvard Business Review is calling "a Meaningless Marketing Stunt." (MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
"How can we make Twitter Town Halls better in the future? And not just for the US government, but any government," twittered Twitter co-founder and enthusiastic Obama supporter Jack Dorsey following yesterday's predictably stilted, "first-ever presidential forum on Twitter," unwittingly revealing a fundamental misunderstanding of American Exceptionalism and the Shining City.
"The big winner of today’s White House Twitter Townhall (besides Twitter)?" asked Bag News Notes: "Well, where do I get my own White House-edition MacBook? Then, regarding the double logo, talk about leveraging your brand." Final stats via Mass Relevance: 169,395 #AskObama Tweets. Hot topics: Jobs (32%) Budget (18%) Taxes (18%) & Education (11%).
How to make future Twitter Town Halls better? As we twittered in response,
Beyond that, we salute Mr. Dorsey for a technological knockout, but is his creation, as he asserts, "a great first step for future Town Halls"? What about all those disintermediating, grassroots, Twitter-enabled Town Halls of two years back that gave voice to the Tea Party movement? We do applaud Dorsey's "curatorship" model, where a panel of journalists and bloggers from across the country were invited to join the President and Dorsey in the East Room to help select the 18 (too few) out of nearly 170,000 (good show!) questions submitted with the #AskObama hashtag by our fellow Americans. A couple of quotable quotes from that Boston Herald article referenced above:
“Amazing how Obama can give such a long answer to such short questions,” tweeted Drew Cline, editorial page editor of the Union Leader of New Hampshire, who was chosen by the social media site as one of eight so-called “curators” to help select questions for the forum.
“BO’s verbosity was a huge problem. An actual moderator could have made space for 100% more questions,” replied another curator, political blogger Will Wilkinson.
That was the consensus in the blogosphere and Twitterverse yesterday after Obama answered just 18 questions out of the 160,000 submissions during his live Webcast of the Twitter Town Hall. Hosted by Twitter creator Jack Dorsey, the hourlong forum devolved into a typical, meandering town hall stump-athon that was a mockery of the Web site’s famous 140-character limit.
"Roughly half the questions were softballs, which [curator Drew] Cline attributed to low participation among conservatives who felt they wouldn’t get a fair shake," but a subset of questions we all knew would never make the final cut kept the twittersphere afflutter with RT's and lol's. Note: Fans of Jonah Goldberg's 140-or-fewer-character zingers may use Snap Bird to read all of his AskObama tweets using the following terms: Search: Someone's timeline, WHO? JonahNRO, FOR: #AskObama.
The last word goes to Benjamin Howe on Twitter:
Update: Michelle Malkin Buzzworthy link!
Update II: Jonah Goldberg tosses us a link from The Corner!
Update III: Doug Ross of Larwyn's Linx links.