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ALA’s Youtube Debates

ALA is offering us a chance to submit questions to its presidential candidates by YouTube.

We have TWO great candidates — I think highly of Roberta Stevens and Kent Oliver — and I am sure they will do justice to the post, regardless of who’s elected.  So I am struggling to come up with a question, though I really feel I should.  I think I’d like to ask about legislative advocacy for open access and open source, though another part of me wants to ask OMG MONEY HOW LIBRARIES GET PLEEEEZE?

Mr. Bill Gets Ready for his Close-Up

Mr. Bill Gets Ready for his Close-Up

Over on Pattern Recognition, Jason Griffey gave ALA’s Youtube project a pretty heavy drubbing. I’m usually in sync with Jason on most issues, but I felt he spent too long explaining how ALA isn’t “getting it” and not enough time talking about what’s right about this project.

Have we ever had an opportunity to interview presidential candidates this way? Can we pause long enough to simply celebrate that it’s even happening? Can we participate?

Full disclosure: the “ALA” Jason is referring to is Jim Rettig’s presidential task force, which I happen to serve on. He may not realize it, but some of these hopeless squares who don’t get it are people he likes. I was even given a chance to organize this project, but declined due to workload.  (I’ve been backstage working on the monthly online Salons, which have been sadly-underattended events with great speakers and issues — and yes they’ve been advertised — plus I’m also on LITA Forum 2009 and the ALA Task Force on Electronic Meeting Participation.)

I’m not majorly bugged that the Youtube opportunity is only open to ALA members or that the contributions can’t be anonymous.   I don’t recall any of my peers complaining when CNN limited its Youtube debate submissions to (non-anonymous) U.S. voters (an unwritten rule, but one observed nonetheless).

I can see the possible value of opening the debate to ALA non-members, but the decision just wasn’t that tragic. These non-members with burning library issues could always make their videos and promote them anyway, which would be an interesting counter-debate.  (They don’t even have to wait for a debate to do this.)

Besides, what would an “anonymous” YouTube film look like? Hand puppets? Mr. Bill? (“Budgets slashed, oooooooooh noooooo!”) Anyone who really had a burning question they couldn’t ask themselves could always find a friend willing to do it. I’ve fronted questions for people in all kinds of situations.

Do I have a peeve? Yes.  The instructions are on a web page that leads to a link on another web page that links to an (anonymous!) PDF that appears to be preliminary instructions… rather puzzling that the first web page promises “more” instructions, and that the second web page links to old material. But compared to the brouhaha on the first day of hotel registration for Annual, not so bad. ;)

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