Friday, January 23, 2009

New Media in the Town Center Debate

Last night, before the Howard County Planning Board Public Hearing on ZRA 113, I stopped by the Columbia 2.0 event at Zapata’s restaurant in the Harpers Choice Village Center. They had to be happy with the turnout. It was packed with and for once, it was a Columbia political event that wasn’t dominated by old dogs like me. The crowd was young and savvy.


Yeah, savvy. Columbia 2.0 had set up a video studio in the bar so that attendees could provide video testimony instead of waiting to give public testimony at the hearing at Wilde Lake High School. This is vitally important. For many younger Columbia’s, carving out three hours to attend a public hearing on a school night is simply not an option. Columbia 2.0 provided younger Columbians an opportunity to mingle a bit, give their testimony, and then get back home to put the kids to bed.
The videographer was a local volunteer, Christopher Robinson.

At the end of last nights hearing, the Planning Board was discussing whether or not they would accept this Columbia 2.0 video testimony. As with any new media, acceptance by the establishment is never a given and is often approached with trepidation.

It would be wise for the Planning Board to allow this. The video testimony represents voices of the folks who will be most affected by the proposed changes to Columbia Town Center but they are voices that are seldom heard.


Young at Heart said...

I'm so glad that there was a good turnout. I also hope the Planning Board accepts the testimony. I'm going to write to urge them to do so. If our government wants to hear more voices, they need to be open to technology that makes it possible.

JessieX said...

Amen. Thanks for the coverage. Glad to hear of Col 2.0's approach and style. I like what you wrote, WB, and what I'd like to add is that there is a value I find often in my gen: it's the value to do things that are multi-purposed. A testimony that goes from mouth to ears is kind of said and done. Over. Maybe acted upon; maybe not.

Video testimony can be repurposed, shared, tagged, linked, aggregated and the like. And more importantly, it doesn't require aligned time. Or synchronous activity. I don't have to be at the same meeting as someone else to hear their perspective.

I really like that component of video testimony. Why would it even be a question for the Planning Board as to whether they would "accept the testimony."

It's 2009. YouTube reports thats hunreds of thousands of videos are uploaded each day. Is there any question that this medium of communication is moving more and more into mainstream?

Me? I was down at Twin Tech III in DC. Now THAT was a saavy, tech, young crowd.

Rock on.

Tom said...

These were people that will actually be alive and enjoying downtown Columbia in 30 years?

Anonymous said...

Don't get too hopeful. The Mayan calendar only goes to Dec 12, 2012 from what I hear.

Anonymous said...

Would you want to volunteer for a board that had to hear every minute of every video that was sent? That's a pretty open-ended time commitment for a volunteer effort, such as the Planning Board.

Testifying by video also means that you don't get to hear what others are saying. Makes it sorta insular and inbred.