I am not sure what to think of Hillary Clinton’s ‘Let the Conversation begin’ at the beginning of this week – three consecutive nights of live streamed answering of questions blogged in by registered users of the hillaryclinton.com (watch the first one here). On the face of it, it is a fine idea, another attempt to get the kind of Q&A interaction that we all associated with the mythological New England town hall meeting. But the campaign did very little to manage expectations or frame the setting in any way, and when you sit for 30 minutes furiously tapping in question after question in vain, cannot even see how many other questions are submitted, and the ones raised seem to fit just a bit too well with what one could imagine the presidential hopeful would want to be asked, disappointment is lurking around the corner.
So though Elise Ackerman of the San Jose Mercury News may be right in calling Clinton’s a ‘Web-savvy Campaign’, I am less convinced they have found a useful model for participation here. Yes, it did give the campaign some good press, yes, it did undoubtedly generate a lot of questions, but this is not news the next time it is done, and the mismatch between the 30-something questions Clinton engaged with over three nights, and the thousands I suspect have been submitted (why on earth have the campaign told us so little about this event?) is bound to generate frustration amongst those who want to connect to the candidate, and come to the conversation with the expectation that they have a chance to do it.