Watching a public meeting with five windows open to the world – #a2council

The Ann Arbor City Council holds meetings twice each month, which are streamed online through the city's CTN network. I tuned in last night on my laptop to listen and watch.

While I was listening, I had a few other windows open on my computer. First and foremost, I had a twitter stream that I was watching for the #a2council hash tag; that caught commentary from a few other people who were watching at home, plus some reporters in the audience. The running cmmentary made it easier to follow what was going on, and it served as a back channel to help make sense of the proceedings.

The council was working from an agenda that's in the Legistar system, and from time to time I'd go back to that to see what the text of an agenda item was, to look at supporting materials, and see the detail.

The Ann Arbor Chronicle does near-real-time news coverage as a Civic News Ticker, reporting out results from key votes and decisions during the meeting. This is brief coverage but important, and it sets the stage for their 10,000 word meeting reports that come out a week or so later.

Finally, I had a window open to Arborwiki, which has a local encyclopedia of information about what is going on in the city and the surrounding area. As council considered various options, I looked up what Arborwiki had to say about the current state of affairs, and updated it as best I could to reflect the meeting results and the news that was happening.

I'm sure that watching this multi-connected stream was different from the experience of being in the same room as council. You miss the non-verbal communications, the body language, the hallway conversations that take place during breaks, and all sorts of in-person nuance. But for what it was, I'm pretty happy with the experience. It felt like I was engaged with the meeting and could have a sense that I was part of the civic process.

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2 thoughts on “Watching a public meeting with five windows open to the world – #a2council

  1. Edward Vielmetti

    John –
    Yes, there were multiply connected people in the room. The Ann Arbor Chronicle team had one person in the room and one person at home, so they could be in sync on multiple channels. The Michigan Daily had a few people at the meeting as well. I didn’t notice any non-news media types contributing to the online discussion from inside the meeting room; one limitation is that there isn’t really good power supplies there so you’re unlikely to be able to power a laptop for the whole meeting without jockeying for position near an outlet.

    Reply

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