Thursday, August 4, 2011

Excuse Me Sir, Can I Get Your Opinion?

One of the truly neat features of Google Plus is Hangouts. These are video chat sessions that can be started at any time with invitations extended to your "circle" of friends or open to anyone on Google Plus. With one click of your mouse you can fire up a Hangout session and the others can join in. Of course your computer must be sound and video enabled although there is a chat window where you can participate by typing.

There are many possible uses of this tool including business meetings, focus groups, tutoring, client meetings, job interviews or just chatting with friends. One individual is using it to deliver guitar lessons and Dell is considering using it for customer support.

Sarah Hill of KOMU-TV came up with a truly novel and quite innovative use for Google Hangouts; she conducts  "man on the street interviews" with people from around the globe. No mobile studio equipment in vans, satellite up-links or remote reporters needed. Anyone can sit in the comfort and safety of their own home while Sarah engages you and the others in a lively round-table discussion. People in Sarah's Hangout are essentially sitting on the studio couch and their thoughts and opinions can easily be incorporated into the news of the day. A special connection was installed to allow the video to be captured or stream to the live broadcast.

I had the good fortune, thanks to Kim Beasley, a Google Plus friend in my circles, to be invited to join  Sarah's Hangout earlier this week  The discussion revolved around new legislation designed to protect students from inappropriate behavior by teachers. The law attempts to prohibit students from having a relationship with teachers in popular social networks. Joining me and Kim in this particular Hangout session were three others including Laurent JP Ravatec from Paris. We each had a turn to present our views while the entire Hangout session was recorded. Three short segments were then compiled and edited into this newscast which went out live to the television market. That's how a blogger from New York can wind up on live TV in Missouri.

Sarah will be hosting more Hangout sessions with the next one scheduled for later today. No doubt this is going to catch on and soon more television stations will be airing content captured with this technique.

In my view, this is truly breakthrough journalism. My (captains) hat is off to Sarah and the entire crew at KOMU for scooping the majors on this one. Sure hope you're paying attention Diane Sawyer.

Captain Joe

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