by: Matt Rhodes

A few weeks ago, I posted about a social media initiative from Downing Street: Ask the PM. The idea is great - anybody can video themselves asking a question, post it on YouTube for others to comment on and vote for. And then the most popular questions are answered by Gordon Brown and posted online.

I was interested to see how this initiative was going to work in practice. The terms and conditions suggested that party political and other questions might not be allowed and I hoped that the experience wouldn’t result in simple and non-meaningful questions being asked. The results of the first wave of questions suggests this is not the case at all.

A total of 229 questions were posted and eight were answered by Gordon Brown. These do appear to have been the most commented on and voted for questions and the range of topics covered is wide-ranging and detailed. From knife crime and the voting age, to the tax on petrol and 42 day detention, the questions that were asked really were a mirror of the big political and social issues that have been debated in Parliament and the country recently.

This is really heartening. I have always thought that reaching out to people via YouTube and responding to their questions could be an exciting innovation for the Prime Minister and the UK Government. Talking to real people about real issues. And it seems that this is exactly what’s happening.

Take a look at Rob’s question and Gordon Brown’s answer below on knife crime, something that has been discussed extensively in the last few weeks after a spate of serious knife crime and murders in London.

Rob’s question

Gordon Brown’s answer

This round of questions has been great and if this initiative continues a large and vibrant community could build, both asking questions, commenting on them and voting, or just watching the questions and responses.

This month, Gordon Brown is asking for questions again. And rather than every time asking for any questions and risking getting the same types of topics covered, there is a theme. This month it’s health. If you want to submit your question, you have until 21st July, and from the 14th you will be able to view and vote for your favourite questions. Submit your videos here.

I think the use of YouTube in this way is truly innovative. Until now there was no way for people like Rob to ask a question directly to and get an answer directly from the Prime Minister. Now there is.

Original post: http://blog.freshnetworks.com/2008/07/gordon-brown-answers-questions-on-youtube/

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