Friday, April 19, 2013

Merkel Chat: "Have you turned your microphone?" - Times Online

For the second time Angela Merkel tried to talk with citizens in the network. Your video chat on integration was better than the last attempt, but not without problems.

Angela Merkel with their Google Hangout

Angela Merkel during their Google Hangout

The Dalai Lama has done, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also, and U.S. President Barack Obama even twice: they all used the Google Hangout video chat to discuss in real time with Internet users. Chancellor Angela Merkel has now provided the first still rather new technology. For an hour they talked with six selected citizens. The topic of the chat: Integration


Even once they had made the people on the net. In November 2011, she answered ten pre-selected questions on YouTube. The campaign flopped. To statesmanlike and stereotyped way were the responses of the Chancellor. The format offered no dialogue, but brittle answers from the political Preserve, which could easily be compared with the wooden messages from the YouTube channel of the federal government.


Then followed the second attempt with Google Hangout. The technique promises at least more discussion than a traditional question-answer situation. Up to ten people can simultaneously tap into the round, everyone else can see and comment on the events. Since Google has activated the function last summer for all users, many alternative talk shows use the creative possibilities of the video chats. The “digital civil dialogue” of the federal government to appeal to the younger citizens who consume politics and news is no longer about the traditional media, but increasingly on platforms like YouTube.

Six selected guests

item 17 clock, a rather unhappy for many workers selected time, the Host Marc White welcomed the guests. Alongside the Chancellor, the six people who work in different ways for integration were. Almost all participants were members of the extended education and labor sectors, and support them in their position of migrants in search of language courses, places of work or study. They described their first Chancellor of the activity, and then the problems and issues that face them here. It addressed such issues as the sponginess of the integration concept to language support to bureaucracy and integration objectors – the Merkel moreover do not believe: “Nobody wants to build a life for unemployment benefits or Hartz IV”, the chancellor said


Merkel had in their answers total is less rigid than it was in its last outing YouTube, was engaged and interested, without having to outdo really surprising statements. Quotes often heard as “Islam belongs to Germany” and the famous promise to take any further problems to the appropriate representative of the Cabinet were, as expected, is not enough.

And yet Merkel was also elicit one or the other human reaction. Than about one participant remained silent, the Chancellor tried in Computer Support: “Have you turned on her microphone, a red button or something,” she asked the others and caused quite involuntary laugh. At the end they even interrupted the moderator when he already wanted to close: Merkel admitted each participant nor the time for a short statement. In moments like these, the distance between politicians and citizens seemed momentarily broken.

Little time, lots of spam

same time, the problems of the format disclosed. Hour of broadcasting time is limited to eight participants for short. Only after everyone had put his question to the Chancellor and she replied, began the actual discussion, were dug deeper and asked to answer your question. There was already in half the time. Also came to brief the issues of Users: Over 500 questions were alone on the site of the future dialogue in recent weeks. Hangout in the end only managed three, none of them was particularly provocative.

the main event was not entirely spontaneous chat between citizens and politicians, but rather an experiment in a controlled environment. Thus, not only the participants were purposely selected, Merkel was also already familiar with her work, theses, and, as she said at one point. So they could prepare. The width of the theme came to her in good stead certainly. And so the action for Merkel was ultimately little more than a traditional talk show, which was held just for a change, not on TV, but on the web. This is not bad, the action shows that Merkel has learned from the last attempt. But it is also no revelation on the road to more transparency and citizen engagement.

This will not change probably not as fast. That citizens one day be injected into a chat with the Chancellor and ask her questions that were not previously discussed and selected seems unlikely. For great is the danger of silliness and personal attacks, as well as the comments in the accompanying chat show: Sheer spam and profanity a discussion was not possible. Ironically, the mutual exchange, the most important tool an online event was denied. And in this case not by politics, but by the citizens.

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