Hanging with Obama…

Posted by on January 31, 2012

…via a Google+ hangout, that is.

 The President of the United States held a Google+ hangout yesterday afternoon where he answered questions from five participants, as well as from previous YouTube submissions. Over 130,000 questions were submitted, from whom the five lucky participants were selected. The rest of the world was able to watch the hangout through YouTube and the White House website as a live streaming experience.

In what has been coined the “new fireside chats,” the hangout began with a short, pre-filmed introduction and then Steve Grove, head of community partnerships at Google, took over as host. He directed the attendees to ask the president their questions, moderating interruptions and awkward pauses.

Immediately, “Google+ hangout” surged as a worldwide trending topic on Twitter, as well as a top video and image on the social network.

The hangout was the first all-digital interview from the White House and lasted about 45 minutes. The president discussed foreign aid, higher education, SOPA, job creation and more with the participants. Politics aside, the hangout served as a genuine forum where the five participants could openly ask questions and engage with the president – something those individuals might have never had the opportunity to do.

It ended with each participant asking some light-hearted questions. One woman introduced her three children to the president, a medical student asked if he could be the president’s doctor upon graduation, one participant asked what the president does when he wants a late night snack, and one man was an Obama comedic impressionist, whom the president jokingly said needed a little more gray hair to truly represent him.

As a viewer, do you think this hangout was no different from television? Or did you think it was a groundbreaking digital experience?


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