My Seesmic experiment with the US Elections

Suw and I started using Seesmic over the holidays, especially a fun night we had with our good friend “Kittenfluff” on New Year’s Eve. One thing that has impressed me thus far with my brief experience with Seesmic is the conversational, call and response nature of the video. YouTube is still a form of broadcast media to me, while I’ve seen several interesting conversations in the short time that I’ve been using Seesmic. I think this has as much to do with the community there as it does with the technology. It’s populated by people who are accustomed to “declarative living” as Suw calls it.

In a bit of inspiration this morning on my way into work, I thought about posting questions about the US Elections into Seesmic and getting some response to spark off a debate on the Guardian’s US politics blog, Deadline USA. I could then embed the video responses into the Guardian’s blog. Not having been in Seesmic very long, I first posted a video to see if people were comfortable with me doing this. The response was overwhelmingly positive.

Suw pointed out that it might make it difficult to bridge the conversation between the Guardian’s blog and Seesmic seeing as it’s a closed alpha. Thus far, that hasn’t been a problem. There has been a lot of buzz inside of Seesmic but relatively little participation on Deadline USA. I’m hoping that it picks up over the next day or so, but as I was explaining to some of our journalists today, comments on our site represent just a fraction of the conversation around our content. It’s often blog posts and other responses off site that are the vast majority of the participation in a social media experience. It is a little difficult to fully reflect all of this activity inside of Seesmic, but I am sure that it will develop. These things take time, and one of the biggest mistakes is to start a conversation and then walk away from it as many news organisations with little social media experience do.

As for this experiment, it’s too early to call it a success or a failure. I’ve been impressed by the response thus far and look forward to it playing out over the next few days. But what really has me excited thus far is hearing from a voter in Maine talking about his issues as well as hearing opinions about the US elections from other places around the world. It still gets my journalistic blood flowing when the internet opens doors around the world.

I think there is something interesting here, both on Seesmic and also on ways to build conversation around video. Right now, Seesmic is pretty small, and even now, following the threads is challenging. But I think this moves online video in a new direction, a more conversational direction. It’s great to start the New Year off with something new to push the boundaries with. The tool, the technology is only part of the process of innovation, creativity gets you the rest of the way to your goals.

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