Public Forums, Twitter Streams and Representation

From Public Forums, Twitter Streams and Representation

At 3 pm Monday afternoon Darin and I met with Ted Nguyen and Ryan Maloney of the OCTA to discuss the projected Tweet stream, sources for Twitter questions and the source of the YouTube video questions shared at the public forum.

Projected Twitter Stream
My first concern was why were my Tweets not displayed on the projected Twitter screen in the forum. Nguyen and Maloney concluded that I was not in the Twitter search database. A search for my name, which is my Twitter ID, @LisaMcClure did not show up. Maloney showed how ParaTweet was used to project the Tweets. The Twitter API apparently could not pull my name up because I was not in the Twitter Search DataBase. The same was true of @Surfrider and Nguyen had discovered another individual involved in the forum with the same issue.

Origin of Twitter Questions
While we were not provided with the actual urls of the Twitter questions Maloney and Nguyen explained the process. Interns monitored the Twitter Stream, but not the Twitter stream projected on the wall in the forum. There was a time lag between the question being posted and the question being posed. There is also the possibility that the Tweet may not have made it to the projected Twitter stream in the forum.

Origin of YouTube Questions
The YouTube videos were actually shot by a Chapman University student. The call for YouTube questions went out and when there was no response students were asked to do some video interviews. These interviews are posted at the OCTA YouTube channel found at

Here are the videos.

A Start on Some Suggested Guidelines
As tools of conversational media become more and more prominent features in public dialog we must all be aware of transparency issues and potential manipulation. This is my list of how I think a public form can take steps to ensure a democratic and representative process. I would like to invite more people to build on this list as we all have different experiences with the issues and technologies involved.
1. ParaTweet and other Projecting Software must be thoroughly tested.

2. If you have invited guests or representatives I suggest running their names through your software to insure their participation. If they do not appear you will know beforehand and either try to correct the issue or represent yourself under another account for the event. (a discovery!)

3. If there is going to be monitoring of a stream for a public forum make a clear list of qualifications for a Tweet to be excluded. This list should be publicly posted and possibly tweeted within the stream as a reminder from the moderator. I think this is really import for public forums intended to share voices, ask questions and hold public officials accountable as well as to allow for conversation.

4. The moderator of the stream should be announced along with the list of what could get you excluded and to provide a point of accountability. This is free speech and nothing to trifle with.

4. Asking for YouTube participation is great. But if your call gets no response I think it is better to say no one responded or be very clear about citing your source for clarity sake.

5. When calls for responses from video or prepared media from the public go out we want to somehow insure that those calls go out widely and in time for many different people to respond. And when those videos are used we want to see the links, the urls should be displayed.

Our Gratitute To Ted Nguyen and Ryan Maloney for sincerely taking time to discuss our concerns of Friday the Monday immediately following the event, as well as their pioneering work in the realm of conversational media. Changing how things are done isn't easy.

Using Twitter as a Forum for a hearing on transportation issues is a great solution. A larger amount of people can participate without traffic concerns, parking or other limitations. Not everyone can participate in a weekday event from 8 am to 7 pm, but we can certainly check our Twitter streams.

We want to ensure that engagement is democratic. We must be sure to include everyones voice and to invite more and more to join in the conversation.

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