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Barack Obama Will Take Questions From YouTube, "Hangout" On Google+

BY Nick Judd | Monday, January 23 2012

Barack Obama at a Q&A event co-hosted with Twitter in July. Photo: Geoff Livingston / Flickr

President Barack Obama will answer questions from the public on Jan. 30 during a Google+ Hangout, YouTube announced yesterday.

The questions will be picked from those submitted to the White House's YouTube channel between yesterday and Jan. 28. As for the Hangout, a ten-person video chat, YouTube announces that "several participants with top-voted questions will be selected to join the president in the Google+ Hangout to take part in the conversation live."

Last year, senior Obama advisers did the follow-up work of fielding post-State of the Union questions. The twitterer-in-chief has sat down in the past to take questions submitted via YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook, but those events all featured an interlocutor. On YouTube, Steve Grove generally asked questions of the president; when Obama sat down to take questions submitted via Twitter last July, Jack Dorsey passed along tweet-length queries that had been ranked and sorted by a mix of moderators and algorithms. During a visit to Facebook, Obama joshed around with their founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg.

Our prevailing hypothesis around here is that one great promise of the Internet in politics is to create unscripted moments, opportunities to yank politicians off of their talking points and into a confrontation with the real and complex problems America faces today. We saw this in July at the very end of the Twitter event with Obama. Reid Epstein saw a similar occurence when former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's presidential aspirations took him to a New Hampshire diner, where he met a gay veteran who asked him about same-sex marriage. We're hungrily looking for examples of this in the integrations of the Internet and of social media in presidential debates, and not finding many so far.

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