Chelmsford selectmen synopsis

The chair of the Chelmsford Board of Selectmen, Matt Hanson, has launched a new effort to better inform residents of the town about what took place during meetings of the Board of Selectmen. After each such meeting, he plans to do a short video summary of what occurred during the meeting for those who aren’t able to watch the meeting live on cable or during one of the recorded replays. His first meeting report video, about 10 minutes long, is below.

I’ve long thought that short-form video has the potential to transform local politics but few seem to take the plunge into using that particular media form. Technology and price are no longer barriers to entry since everyone has a video camera on his or her cell phone, and YouTube is free and extremely easy to use. These are capabilities available to every citizen that were unimaginable a couple of decades ago. Every so often I try to produce more videos – my YouTube channel has 216 videos and has gotten 86,628 videos – but I know I should be doing more. I urge everyone else to give video production a try. The more new video we have about local events and especially local politics, the better off we and our community will be. So for now, congratulations to Matt Hanson for leading the way through the intersection of new media and local politics.


2 Responses to Chelmsford selectmen synopsis

  1. kad barma says:

    More folks ought to pay more attention to what goes on in such places, and anything that increases the up-take on the information is the proverbial good thing. I’m all for it.

    That being said, two other thoughts occur: First, editing requires personal judgment on the part of the editor, and personal judgment introduces personal bias into that editing. Such applies undemocratic power to the interpretation of what should be a purely democratic process, and great care would seem to need to be taken with the “summaries”. Second, one great disadvantage to video as a medium is its resistance to itself being summarized. Don’t want to get bogged down in my written wordiness? Scan and read more quickly. Not getting what you need quickly enough out of a video? Your only choices are to waste time, skip ahead and miss whole sections entirely, or to stop watching. Which is to say, written summaries are uniquely useful, and the ease of recording a video is at the cost of the effort needed to watch it.

  2. DickH says:

    A couple of points in response: Sure, any type of summary is inherently biased but that also includes the supposedly unbiased mainstream media (how’s that working out in Lowell these days?). It’s really up to the viewer/reader to apply critical thinking skills, considering such things as the speaker/writer’s point of view, stake in the debate, all the things we use in everyday life to assess credibility. My hope would be that several people would do such summaries, all independent of each other which would give viewers varying points of view.

    As for the efficiency of gathering info from a writing rather than from video, scanning text is fastest and most efficient for me. But I still like to see video and because time is tight, short videos are my favorite. Certainly the tech world is facilitating our access to video everywhere all the time with devices like smart phones and tablets.

    One idea I have for making long municipal meetings more watchable, at least on line, would be to somehow tag the video and link that tags to the text agenda of the meeting. That way, the agenda would serve as a type of table of contents. You’re interested in motion number 5, click on that item on your onscreen agenda and you immediately jump to that portion of the meeting. It makes for more efficient viewing and prevents the guesswork and wasted time you expend now to find that particular part of the video. But it also takes time and effort to do the tagging (although the techs filming the meeting could probably do it on-the-fly if instructed to do so).