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Text Comments Out In YouTube "National Discussion" of Health Care

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the you-could-always-talk-with-your-friends-and-neighbors dept.

Government 287

theodp writes "While the White House has invited the nation to Join the National Online Discussion on Health Care Reform, it is currently only accepting 20-30 second YouTube video responses — text comments have been disabled. Which raises a question: Should a video camera be the price of admission for participating in an open government discussion, especially when issues may hit those with lower incomes the hardest? BTW, the response-to-date has been underwhelming — 101 video responses and counting — and is certainly a mixed-bag, including a one-finger salute, a talking butt, a woman "Showing my Apples", and other off-topic rants and unrelated videos."

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What A Pointless Story (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28506773)

So fucking what if text comments are disabled in this stunt? It's not as if people don't have plenty of other avenues to express themselves, such as writing and/or calling their elected representatives, or even you know vote for them.

This is a nice excuse to get this onto slashdot, but this just isn't news for nerds or stuff that matters.

Sounds bytes (5, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506777)

It sounds to me like the administration is looking for raw material they can put into commercials to run in districts that oppose Obama's plans.

I.e,. this might be a huge casting call in disguise.

I'm fairly skeptical these days when Obama says he wants to involve the general population in a discussion. His modus operandi became evident when he ignored the highly voted Internet town hall topic of legalizing marijuana. It appears that at least sometimes, he's only pretending to take the general citizenry's views into account, even when he's saying otherwise.

Re:Sounds bytes (5, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506849)

I'm fairly skeptical these days when Obama says he wants to involve the general population in a discussion.

Skeptical is good.

His modus operandi became evident when he ignored the highly voted Internet town hall topic of legalizing marijuana. It appears that at least sometimes, he's only pretending to take the general citizenry's views into account, even when he's saying otherwise.

I have little doubt there was significant internal discussion about the issue. It probably resulted in the consensus that the topic is political poison and they should avoid any public commentary. They still are concerned about the next election and need a longer period for policies to take effect and show a difference if they want many of their initiatives to last for the long term. I've been underwhelmed by the public participation programs put into place. It is hard to distinguish between the administration not hearing and the administration willfully pretending they did not hear anything, but at least on the marijuana issue it is pretty likely to be the latter.

Opinion (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28506925)

The Obama administration is far, far better than any Bush administration.

However, it seems to me that "public participation" is dishonest. It is apparently a way of getting attention. It apparently never results in the public actually having any actual power.

Re:Opinion (-1, Troll)

jav1231 (539129) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507035)

Dunno if you heard but Bush isn't president anymore. We are free to criticize this president right? I mean, when is it time for him to stand on his own merits?

Re:Opinion (2, Interesting)

pHus10n (1443071) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507267)

Where in this discussion so far did someone suggest otherwise?

Re:Opinion (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28507527)

Did you even finish reading the post you replied to? Or did you stop reading at "Bush administration?" GP never condemned criticizing Obama, and actually did some criticizing him/herself.

Re:Opinion (5, Insightful)

superwiz (655733) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507579)

The Obama administration is far, far better than any Bush administration.

I agree. They are much, much better liars. Listening to Bush lie was boring. It was obvious. It insulted my intelligence. While Obama's lies are grandiose. They are eloquent. They take at least 10-15 seconds to parse through before the waaaait-a-minute moment. It's a pleasure. We are very fortunate to have a much more skillful entertainer in the White House.

Re:Sounds bytes (1)

Necreia (954727) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507133)

... His modus operandi became evident when he ignored the highly voted Internet town hall topic of legalizing marijuana. It appears that at least sometimes, he's only pretending to take the general citizenry's views into account, even when he's saying otherwise.

President Obama did come out and speak to the Marijuana question, but he answer it in a non-serious manner. See here: Legalizing Pot Won't Grow Economy [cbsnews.com]

Re:Sounds bytes (1)

Burpmaster (598437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507405)

His modus operandi became evident when he ignored the highly voted Internet town hall topic of legalizing marijuana.

If you want marijuana legalized, you should be happy about that. Obama will be up for reelection, so if he pushes for that now, it will be the basis for a billion dollar smear campaign designed to make the public panic and vote for the Republican. And that could set back the cause quite a bit.

Re:Sounds bytes (1)

bjourne (1034822) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507419)

So if you cynically think that soliciting debate through youtube videos is a bad thing, then maybe you can suggest a better alternative? Has any other prime minister/president in any other country ever done something similar? Remember, it was only a year ago that Bush only held heavily moderated press conferences in which only selected journalists where allowed to ask any questions.

Re:Sounds bytes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28507535)

And it's only been a few days that obama had a heavily moderated press conference in which only selected "journalists" (ABC != real news) where allowed to ask any questions.

Re:Sounds bytes (2, Insightful)

superwiz (655733) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507539)

As opposed to 100% moderated filtering of questions (for further dissemination as coming "from the people")? Questions which are collected from a heavily a polarized population (of youtube viewers) which lacks no lackeys? That makes him a MORE effective propagandist -- not some man of the people that you are trying to convince us that he is.

It's an attempt to filter out the crazies (3, Funny)

phantomcircuit (938963) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506781)

Apparently it's not working.

Re:It's an attempt to filter out the crazies (1)

fictionpuss (1136565) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506883)

Ya, and when lampposts where first invented, the crazies took turns seeing who could sit atop them the longest.

Remember - Youtube didn't even exist for the 2004 US Presidential election. We have a long way to go, but probably within our lifetimes, such behaviour will become the exception rather than the norm.

Certainly within those individuals lifetimes prospective employers will commonly and frequently use the simple tools required to determine a candidates "internet retard" score, automagically picking up acts of wanton, traceable, internet vandalism such as this.

The joke is on the crazies, not with...

Re:It's an attempt to filter out the crazies (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506997)

So...it's crazy if I write "jews did wtc you are Muslim, not American" but if I say it on a camera it becomes sane?

Re:It's an attempt to filter out the crazies (1)

superwiz (655733) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507595)

Only if you say it with a French accent and a bad shave.

Re:It's an attempt to filter out the crazies (0, Troll)

davester666 (731373) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507059)

or rather, it could be to get the public to get used to not being able to make anonymous contributions easily, because this makes it easy to deny comments by people unwilling to step in front of the camera.

Sure, if you are adapt at editing video, you can produce a video with your comment in it, with some kind of talking head, but regular folk aren't able to do this, unless they have a Mac :-)

And in my role cynic of all things government-related, this makes an excellent way for people to identify themselves as being troublemakers, and include a picture of themselves while they're at it.

Re:It's an attempt to filter out the crazies (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507305)

Using YouTube is an attempt to filter out the crazies? That's even crazier than the finger guy!

Easy answer (-1, Troll)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506785)

Should a video camera be the price of admission for participating in an open government discussion, especially when issues may hit those with lower incomes the hardest?

Yes.

I think we can tolerate the absence of people who can afford computers and not cellphone cameras.

Re:Easy answer (3, Insightful)

99BottlesOfBeerInMyF (813746) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506903)

I think we can tolerate the absence of people who can afford computers and not cellphone cameras.

The libraries near me are full of poor people using internet connected computers. My cell phone has a camera, but it doesn't do video and the only way to get images off of it is to pay absurd data transfer rates. Many people I see only have pay as you gocell phones with no camera capabilities. I think you might be a little disconnected from the realities of the lower class and their access to video cameras.

Re:Easy answer (2, Insightful)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507701)

That would be a good argument for banning the video comments as well. There could easily be some other motivation at work here (besides callous indifference to the lower classes) for disabling text comments. Probably a stupid one. Maybe they figure they'll be buried in comments and forced to pick and choose and introduce a bias if they want to make the page look flashy and interesting.

Seriously, who cares. I wonder what's up with this dude sometimes, but in terms of signal to noise in Obama stories (a real problem), this story is pure noise.

Re:Easy answer (3, Informative)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506967)

Should a video camera be the price of admission for participating in an open government discussion, especially when issues may hit those with lower incomes the hardest?

Yes. I think we can tolerate the absence of people who can afford computers and not cellphone cameras.

And only land-owners should have the right to vote?
I know people that can afford a computer (at the public library), but who can not afford a cell phone (regular monthly expenses).

Re:Easy answer (1)

schon (31600) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507151)

I think we can tolerate the absence of people who can afford computers and not cellphone cameras.

And only land-owners should have the right to vote?

I'm guessing just like me, he missed the fact that this was about voting.

Oh wait, I still don't see it - care to point out where it says that this was going to be used for voting?

Re:Easy answer (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28507191)

You sir are an ignorant bastard. I think we can tolerate the absence of stupid elitist slashdot posters that don't understand what a quality cell phone with video + internet data plan costs compared to entry level PC's and dial up internet so prevalent in most low income households.

Re:Easy answer (2, Funny)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507411)

I picked up a used cellphone with a camera in it for $20 off Craigslist. And I'm an ignorant bastard, so you see how easy it is.

This is simply not a serious barrier comparable to e.g. owning land which separates people into demographics (landowners vs renters) having legitimate and distinctly separate policy interests. Not being able to produce a video in order to comment on a stupid Obama Youtube stunt doesn't really place you into a protected minority. Youtube is a private entity, and private entities are free to discriminate. And a direct societal benefit is gained by discriminating against the wider class of people unwilling to produce a video- like myself, with better things to do. It cuts down on the number of responses from ignorant bastards like me, who would just show up and post something similar to the GP.

Unfortunately it doesn't seem to have worked very well.

thank god (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28506787)

Have you ever looked at the comment section of a YouTube video? I wouldn't want a low-level staffer to spend half a second wading through that pile of drooling morons. Posting a video at least requires minimal effort.

Re:thank god (1)

Auxis (1341693) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506863)

I'd mod you up but I'm out of points!

Re:thank god (2, Funny)

ChienAndalu (1293930) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506953)

This (and this [xckd.com] )

Re:thank god (1)

Burpmaster (598437) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507425)

And this [xckd.com] .

(There really ought to be a slashdot achievement for posting an xkcd link...

Re:thank god (2, Insightful)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507335)

True... but have you ever looked at the average YouTube video?

Unfortunately nutjobs usually have lots of time on their hands and are masters of minimal effort.

Article title is flat-out wrong (5, Informative)

Curien (267780) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506789)

From TFA:

Don't know how to respond to the President's video with your question? Check out this tutorial from YouTube about how to create your own and add it as a response.

If you are a Twitter user, you can also ask your question with this hashtag: #WHHCQ or head to Facebook and ask your question there.

If I were the staff member in charge of wading through the discussion, I wouldn't want to have to use Youtube's craptastic comment system either.

Thank you! (1)

SpekkioMofW (711835) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507555)

I thought I was going to have to offer this correction. You beat me to it. Someone please mod Curien's comment up!

Boo. (1)

pubwvj (1045960) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506805)

Yuk. I don't like doing video. Text is more efficient and searchable. Bad Obama.

Re:Boo. (3, Funny)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506889)

Its YouTube though... Compared to YouTube, 4chan is a refuge of sanity and even /. trolls end up sounding like something out of a scientific journal.

Par for the course (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28506825)

They wouldn't let competing viewpoints even by ad time on ABC prior to or after the "special." It's a lot easier to win a debate limited to one side.

You do not need a camera to post vids on youtube (5, Informative)

Lorcas (1299955) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506827)

You can open up your favorite video editing software and just put some slides of text. No camera involved.

Re:You do not need a camera to post vids on youtub (5, Funny)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507063)

You are the person who invented sending four line comments in powerpoints aren't you. Now we have your ID we are going to hunt you to the ends of the internet. You can't run and you can't hide. Our advance team is in Montréal already. They will be arriving at your home soon. Stay there so that at least you die surrounded by the things you know.

Price of admission (2, Insightful)

Mononoke (88668) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506831)

Should a video camera be the price of admission for participating in an open government discussion, especially when issues may hit those with lower incomes the hardest?

Looks to me like a computer is the greatest part of that admission price. The camera (assuming the computer didn't come with one) is just an extra fee.

Re:Price of admission (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507027)

Except that, as other have pointed out, you can use a computer in a library for free or an Internet cafe cheaply, but these may not come with a camera. Even if they do, they are generally not good places for recording a video.

Who needs a camera? (2, Insightful)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506833)

MS Paint and Windows Movie Maker.

Say it in 24 bit color, baby!

the internet isn't some magic solution (3, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506835)

Yes, as a technical question it's now easy for everyone to communicate with their public officials! But what exactly are these officials supposed to do with ten thousand poor-quality comments? Institute a Slashdot-style moderate system? A digg-style voting system? (Obama did actually try that last one.) Develop a new version of spam filter that is some sort of "shitty comment with no useful content" filter? It seems what they're trying here is exactly what the submitter criticizes, a "barrier to entry" filter, with the hope that people who bother to make a video about their idea at least have an idea they've thought through for 5 minutes. Looks like that may have failed, too, but I can't blame them for trying.

In a different context, Gerhard Fischer pointed out [illinois.edu] in 1996 something similar about the internet not being a magical solution for education:

The "Nobel Prize winner" myth: Every school child will have access to a Nobel Prize winner. --- This was one of the selling points for the information superhighway. While this argument is true (or will be true soon) at the level of technical connectivity, it is doubtful that Nobel Prize winners will look forward to getting a few thousand e-mail messages a day.

Video lectures (3, Informative)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507037)

> The "Nobel Prize winner" myth: Every school child will have access to a Nobel Prize winner

In some ways yes:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qn8PNMTSlwo [youtube.com]

Plenty of other lectures/talks from MIT, Stanford, and other universities around the world are available online.

> it is doubtful that Nobel Prize winners will look forward to getting a few thousand e-mail messages a day.

I'm sure Feynman isn't too worried about that :).

FWIW, you can learn a lot from people without sending email to them, or communicating with them.

Re:Video lectures (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507739)

That's something you could do in the pre-internet era, too, though: it's not like we just invented the idea that you can make some sort of video recording of lectures. There's an improvement in accessibility, since it's now easier to widely distribute those videos for free, versus charging even nominal fees to duplicate and mail out VHS tapes. But there's no fundamental change in what kind of communication it is.

There had been a lot of educational buzz in the 80s and 90s about how the communication itself would improve education, as it'd no longer be the "watch a VHS" style of one-way communication. It seems to have turned out to still mostly be that, though: watching a YouTube video is still just one-way, not much different from watching it on VHS or DVD, except that it's free and you can skip around between short videos more easily.

That was the gist of my analogy with these "open e-government" initiatives. There've been wild-eyed promises from proponents that it'll change one-way government, in which presidents give speeches and radio addresses, into participatory government, in which people can communicate back and forth and have discussions with their leaders. In practice, I don't think that will work out.

"national discussion"? (5, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506839)

I often hear (on NPR, usually) politicians calling for a "national discussion" or a "national debate" on some topic.

Exactly what is a "national discussion/debate"?

It seems to me like things usually work out this way: news organizations cover some topic, congress and the President start discussing it, lobbyists come onto the scene, and in the end the Congress either (a) sells us out to lobbyists, or (b) makes a completely irrational piece of legislation.

So is calling for a "national discussion/debate" really just an attempt to dress, as democratic, a decision which the common citizen has no capacity to influence? That is, like what happens with so-called "town-hall meetings"?

Re:"national discussion"? (1)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506947)

It's like a "listening tour". Find a bunch of people who tell sob stories and don't ask questions and put a politician in front of them, looking thoughtful, nodding her head, and never giving an opinion on difficult or controversial matters. You can also throw in some generic platitudes and attack bogey men, like "special interests", but only if it's vague enough that no one considers themselves to be a member.

Re:"national discussion"? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28507049)

All I can say is beware of Health Care.

Michael Jackson was murdered by a white doctor. Same old story, as old as mankind: the white rulers can't stand to see a successful black man.

You will be missed, Michael. Great father, great musician, great man.

Re:"national discussion"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28507099)

great flamebait

Re:"national discussion"? (1, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507259)

Michael Jackson was murdered by a white doctor. Same old story, as old as mankind: the white rulers can't stand to see a successful black man.

He was black?

Re:"national discussion"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28507407)

Michael or the doctor? :)

Re:"national discussion"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28507533)

"was"

Re:"national discussion"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28507297)

Flaimbait? Sure. Mike's doc was/is black. Sorry try again.....

Re:"national discussion"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28507329)

Politicians and You.
 
  Hello little libertarian let me sell you on the grand idea of government!
 
  Now we're all in this ship called "the state" and there are limited resources controlled by the state... who decides where they go? Well we all sort of do but there are problems, people are pretty selfish... I mean that's the whole capitalism thing in a nutshell don't you think?
 
  Now if you put selfish people on a boat and tell them they don't have enough water they'll throw someone overboard! Who they pick doesn't really matter, could be you could be me... the point is everytime someone says "water trouble" someone gets tossed out.
 
  Of course we want someone to verify, hey there REALLY is water trouble (And since the agricultural revolution there's been water enough for everyone... of course it's poorly distributed).
 
  And that's what indirect democracy is for, so we're not always looking for someone to throw overboard, and believe me we're pretty sure who's fucked... if you're not the richest, hotest, or charmingiest you won't be the last person on the boat!
 
  Now about the problems with indirect democracy: Can you afford a.) A gun, b.) A plane ticket?. If so then the problems with democracy are YOUR (passive) RESPONSABILITY!

Re:"national discussion"? (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507495)

p>It seems to me like things usually work out this way: news organizations cover some topic, congress and the President start discussing it, lobbyists come onto the scene, and in the end the Congress either (a) sells us out to lobbyists, or (b) makes a completely irrational piece of legislation.

When is it either (a) or (b), usually its (a) resulting in (b) and becomes both.

Already a restriction (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28506841)

Surely it raises another question: Should internet access be the price of admission for participating in an open government discussion, especially when issues may hit those with lower incomes the hardest?

If you're going to restrict discussion to those with access to the web it doesn't seem a giant leap to expect them to have a cheap and cheerful webcam.

Re:Already a restriction (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507221)

So long as you can get a library card, you can get Internet access at your local library.

Then write a letter (4, Insightful)

OrangeTide (124937) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506843)

If your opinion is so valuable then write a letter and mail it to the President or your elected representative.

Video Camera's aren't the barrier of entry (1)

basementman (1475159) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506845)

Video Camera's aren't the barrier of entry, owning a computer/mobile device that has internet access is. Even if they did allow text comments I still need blow a few hundred bucks on a cellphone contract or a computer. Requiring video just makes sorting through the responses easier. And it doesn't prevent you from participating in government. You can still call your local congressmen/senator for a few cents on a pay phone.

Re:Video Camera's aren't the barrier of entry (1)

oneirophrenos (1500619) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506855)

Video Camera's aren't the barrier of entry, owning a computer/mobile device that has internet access is.

What? Don't they have computers in cafés or libraries in the US?

They didn't go far enough. (1)

qengho (54305) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506851)

Given the average IQ level of YouTube commenters, they should have blocked responses altogether and provided a URL to a forum on whitehouse.gov. That would at least eliminate the morons who can't read carefully.

Re:They didn't go far enough. (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506933)

Disabling youtube comments can only serve to raise the level of discussion in any context. Yes, I am aware that without comments enabled there will be no discussion.

Re:They didn't go far enough. (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507041)

There will be a discussion, but it will be via video clips. Literacy is no longer a requirement for engaging in political discourse. Welcome to America 2.0.

Re:They didn't go far enough. (1)

The Master Control P (655590) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507111)

I once submitted something to a trivia database and I liked their system:

An inconspicuous line in the before-you-press-submit spiel that says "Put ## at the start of your writing" with an implied "This tells me you aren't some kind of moron who doesn't read or follow basic instructions before flapping his jaws. If you don't your submission goes on the bottom of the crap pile."

Silly theodp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28506859)

text comments have been disabled

Don't worry, he won't listen to those video replies either!

It's a compromise. You honestly don't know this? (2, Insightful)

writermike (57327) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506867)

Color me trolled.

Look, this is plainly a compromise that tries to cull wheat from chaff. Don't believe me? Go look at any major American newspaper website. Pick any random story and dive into the comments. Now, take note of the insults, the extremely partisan rhetoric (from all sides), the bad grammar, the incredible misunderstandings of the entire point, and, yeah, even hopes that one or the other subjects go die.

It's simply much easier for anyone to click reply and type out, "HURR DURRR UR A FAGGG." Sure, you can do the same with with a web camera -- and apparently some folks are doing so -- but I bet there are going to be much less to go through than if everyone could pop a comment under the story.

Re:It's a compromise. You honestly don't know this (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507383)

Hm... maybe if they run a spell check on all comments and use the result as a spam filter. The comment only gets read if the spell check is minimally satisfied.

Obligatory (1)

EricJ2190 (1016652) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506869)

And nothing of value was lost...

I used to have faith (1)

Idiot with a gun (1081749) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506871)

In the democratic system, and people and general. But lately I've taken the stance that while some individuals may be smart, people as a whole are panicy and stupid. This whole "Open Government" thing, while honourable, is beginning to look like a futile attempt.

Re:I used to have faith (1)

bertoelcon (1557907) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507543)

As stated in Men in Black, "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it."

They DO take text comments ... (4, Informative)

Skapare (16644) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506891)

... only from Facebook users via their Facebook site. The link is on the referenced page.

Don't you mean... (1)

aztektum (170569) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506895)

A video camera, computer, internet connection and YouTube account?

Re:Don't you mean... (1)

dietdew7 (1171613) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507487)

And the technical skills to make a video and publish it.

Moderator? (4, Insightful)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506899)

"While the White House has invited the nation to Join the National Online Discussion on Health Care Reform, it is currently only accepting 20-30 second YouTube video responses â" text comments have been disabled.

Am I the only person who's concerned that the Whitehouse has been allowed to be the moderator of such discussions?

After all, the administration has a political agenda, and therefore an incentive to bias the discussions on any particular topic of debate. Deciding details such as the length and form of submissions can be a powerful device for controlling the topic and direction of debate. At that point, it's a rather useless vehicle for arguing a side that the administration doesn't want advanced.

Re:Moderator? (0, Offtopic)

BorgCopyeditor (590345) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507057)

Am I the only person who's concerned that the Whitehouse has been allowed to be the moderator of such discussions?

Are you saying it's impossible to put your own video on Youtube (or elsewhere) detailing what you think about this or any other political issue? If not, I'm not sure how the administration has been "allowed to be the moderator of such discussions." Could you explain?

Re:Moderator? (1)

bistromath007 (1253428) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507129)

When the government sets up an official place for people to ask questions and raise concerns, discussion outside of that forum becomes comparatively worthless. There will be people who are actually paid or at least volunteer to read/watch this stuff, and compile data for the administration to mull over. This forum is where things go that have a snowball's chance in hell of being considered, replied to, put on TV, etc. If the government disregards certain types of responses, then they basically get to decide what statistics they're going to report and base policy on. Simply put, the idea of two-way communication between people and a statist government is a huge sham.

Re:Moderator? (1)

BorgCopyeditor (590345) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507239)

So, the objection is that the administration is allowed to choose which information it thinks is relevant to developing and promoting a health care plan? This differs from governments' usual way of making policy how, exactly?

I see the point that they're imposing some limits on how the conversation goes, but did anyone really expect anything different?

My point is just that there's a vast distance separating this kind of rinky-dink maneuvering from the government's having somehow actually succeeded in making the conversation take only the shape that it favors.

It's kind of tiresome to continually read Americans complaining that tiny annoyances (or imagined biases and conspiracies) amount to political oppression. We have free speech in this country; it's no use complaining that the government isn't cooperating in our exercising that right in the way we would find most convenient.

It's no use, in the first place, because doing so will change nothing, and second, because those private individuals who have helped advance the national conversation in various ways at various times would have accomplished nothing if they had spent their time whining on public message boards about how the government was not broadcasting their message. That's the argument not of an activist, but of a loser.

Got something to say? Find others who will help and make yourselves heard. (Oh, and don't expect much except to be in it for the long haul with marginal success, if any.)

Re:Moderator? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28507115)

Well, we can see from the one finger salute that it's not entirely moderated...

Re:Moderator? (1)

Trepidity (597) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507225)

They're hardly the moderator of such discussions. Dozens of other newspapers, TV channels, and websites are also moderating discussions on the subject.

YouTube racists would take it over like other vids (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28506915)

A good idea. Otherwise half the comments would be idiots callling Obama a ni**er.

Text Comments (3, Insightful)

sonicmerlin (1505111) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506931)

If video responses with their "price of admission" were this bad, can you imagine how inane and disgustingly unintelligent text comments would be? Their video limitation was a good idea IMO.

ummmm....what? (1, Interesting)

glitch23 (557124) | more than 5 years ago | (#28506979)

Should a video camera be the price of admission for participating in an open government discussion, especially when issues may hit those with lower incomes the hardest?

Since we're talking about health care I can safely say that, in this case, the lower income people are the very people this initiative is supposed to help. It is the rich and possibly the middle class who will have to pay, against their will (through higher taxes), in order to pay for health insurance for others. Those with lower incomes get to sit back and watch the government and/or the rich people pay for everything for them. That is how things work when a Democrat is in office. Daddy gov't will help them by using the money from other people.

Re:ummmm....what? (2, Interesting)

GeorgeS (11440) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507331)

Middle class people are the only people that really care about this issue. They are the ones that get screwed over if taxes go up to pay for health care. Rich people already have plenty of health care and the poorest of people either don't have to pay or have nothing to lose if they can't pay.
So, I'd say the middle class folks are the ones most affected by this issue and most, if not all of them, have internet access and some form of camera so they should be quite able to make some sort of reply.
I'm not saying this is the best idea but, it's better than most others and should generate some real discussion between politicians and the public.

Re:ummmm....what? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28507443)

It seems telling the truth about Obama's plans is a bad thing around here. It's a shame the truth must be hidden in order to maintain good karma. So who here on slashdot is sleeping with Obama?

Remember, The National Discussion IS in (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28507005)

a third world country [www.nald.ca] called the United States.

Yours In Books,
Kilgore Trout

Sometimes I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry (2, Funny)

QCompson (675963) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507023)

...and such was the case with the "one-finger salute" video. That intellectual powerhouse thinks Obama somehow snuck into the White House even though he is a Kenyan citizen, and mourns the loss of the Pontiac Firebird.

I think I'll cry.

Re:Sometimes I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507473)

At least it wasn't a camaro.

Weedout? (3, Interesting)

theurge14 (820596) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507047)

Raising the technical bar weeds out the sincere from the rest.

At least that was the idea until the talking butt came along.

Re:Weedout? (1)

bistromath007 (1253428) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507091)

"Weed." Ha ha.

That's exactly why they did this, btw. I guarantee. Everytime the government asks the people ANYTHING in a context where their comments don't have to be associated with their face, probably around 70% of responses revolve around legalizing marijuana. They're not doing it, so they don't want to read twenty thousand copies of it again. If they un-democratize the process, they only have to watch the first five seconds of a thousand copies of it.

*sigh* (1)

JimboFBX (1097277) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507079)

Ok, so am I the only person on slashdot who thinks slashdot's "ask slashdot" system is by far the best way to solicit responses from people on a mass scale (not sarcastic)? So far the government's attempt at getting "public input" has been ignorant of the better options... have you seen their open government website (http://mixedink.com/OpenGov/)? You can't even post more than a page for a draft on what you think should be done about something. There's a huge god damn difference between "I think you should do X" and "I think you should do X and this is how because I know I can't trust you to do it right".

And christ, a good portion of the responses on the open government website are off topic or unreadable/rambling. Almost 100% of it is rhetoric, or calls for expanding upon current ineffective government resources via the means of existing ineffective government resources.

Re:*sigh* (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507499)

I'm beginning to see what they're up to. If the nut cases are busy writing hundred page rants (or making creative talking butt videos) then they're probably not out causing trouble.

One-finger salute, talking butt, 'see my apples' (2, Insightful)

joib (70841) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507097)

Just as intellectual as the rest of the farce known as politics. The only difference is that the professionals wear fancy suits and genuinely think they are saying something insightful.

Re:One-finger salute, talking butt, 'see my apples (2, Informative)

rockNme2349 (1414329) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507161)

Just as intellectual as the rest of the farce known as politics. The only difference is that the professionals wear fancy suits and genuinely think they are saying something insightful.

Sounds a lot like slashdot to me.

Re:One-finger salute, talking butt, 'see my apples (2, Funny)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507513)

Sitting in front of a computer in your underwear is NOT a fancy suit. Yes, it's fancier than a birthday suit, but it's still not fancy.

30 Second Responses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28507197)

My dad is a lawyer, as are many politicians. He said the most important thing involved in winning a case (or arguement) is setting the context of that arguement.
 
  Basically with the video responses they are trying to get around the problem that both might be absolutely right. When both sides are absolutely right it is the correct time for rhetoric, emotioned arguement.

text responses aren't a good plan either (0)

damn_registrars (1103043) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507249)

As text responses just invite flamewars and shouting matches. One person on a decent connection could post several replies a minute in a text-based system and make their opinion seem more reflective of the population. Granted, video responses aren't a great deal better; but by limiting it to that they can at least give everyone a (semi) equal opportunity to post.

One Viewpoint (1)

assertation (1255714) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507423)

Which raises a question: Should a video camera be the price of admission for participating in an open government discussion, especially when issues may hit those with lower incomes the hardest?

A video camera for a computer is a lot cheaper than having to have a computer in the first place.

BTW, the response-to-date has been underwhelming -- 101 video responses and counting -- and is certainly a mixed-bag, including a one-finger salute, a talking butt, a woman "Showing my Apples", and other off-topic rants and unrelated videos."

No surprises there. I have seen some beleaguered web board admins replace their web boards with a blogroll community. Instead of accepting comments, they would accept trackback URLS where people would respond on their own blogs. Upping the cost in effort to respond greatly reduced the amount noise, but it also greatly reduced the overall number of responses. The web is a medium of short attention spans.

There are better ways to poll people. Youtube comments will only give you a cross section of youtube users.......not a group representative of most of America. No reason to spend tax payer money in this economy to pay people to read peanut gallery quality comments.

"What can you do for ME?" (2, Insightful)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507507)

If you actually watch many of those videos, it is easy to see that the vast majority of them are people asking, "How can this benefit me?? (Or my sister, or my uncle, or...)"

Very few have been asking the hard questions, like "What part of the Constitutional gives you authority to do this?"

For someone who is supposed to be a "Constitutional scholar", Obama does not seem to have much understanding of it.

Internet cafe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28507563)

There is a place down the street I can go and pay a few dollars and sit down at a computer which has a webcam and post a video on youtube.
If someone can not afford to take a bus to an internet cafe.. then, I certainly feel sorry for them.. but if they are that down on their luck.. maybe the government should just fly them all to washington to hear their comments?

YouTube (1)

tulmad (25666) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507601)

Wait, they put out a call on YouTube and they expected anything other than this as a response? It's *YouTube*, wtf did they expect? Have they never read the comments section on any random video on the site?

Yes but... (1)

cybereal (621599) | more than 5 years ago | (#28507651)

BTW, the response-to-date has been underwhelming â" 101 video responses and counting â" and is certainly a mixed-bag, including a one-finger salute, a talking butt, a woman "Showing my Apples", and other off-topic rants

Yes but at least the Republican senators were willing to voice their opinions in the most eloquent manner they could.

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