Last night I was honored and privileged to attend the official White House State of the Union Tweet-Up. To read more about how that happened, see Part 1. I am so thankful to @ks44, @macon44, and @brianforde for organizing the event on behalf of the President’s staff and including regular folks in the State of the Union event. It means a lot to those of us rather disillusioned with politics…gives me hope that things can modernize, change, and be just a tad more inclusive.
50 or so of us met up at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building and were escorted to a small auditorium where we watched the State of the Union address live (the super-awesome enhanced version with stats, graphs, etc.). The experience of watching the speech live with a group of engaged, smart people was really great. I think it would be spectacular for local libraries to hold SOTU Tweet-Ups (for other major local and national political events too).
The whole lot of us had our phones, tablets, and laptops out and were live-Tweeting the event. You can see the #whtweetup Tweets. The live stream was fascinating. The biggest laugh happened after the President made his pretty bad milk joke and was smiling big, and the cameras cut to a row of Republicans looking as sour as all get out. Whoever was directing the cut-edits should get an award, because that was priceless. Several of his comments got “oohs” and “aahs” from the audience, some elicited muttered grumbling, and others got full on rounds of applause (e.g. the statement that women should get equal pay). I just tried to Tweet out what mattered to me, what stuck out in my mind.
After the State of the Union, Macon Phillips (@macon44) served as MC for the event. A dozen or so questions got asked and answered–sent in by either people online or asked by those of us in the audience. Lots of interesting questions, tons of engaged people in that audience, and some good stuff from people online too. The event was live broadcast on whitehouse.gov/sotu and you can see the archived version here (and below). Although I never got picked to ask my question (I raised my hand repeatedly, as did many others), I did get on camera several times (inc. right around the 24 minute mark where the guy behind me asked his question).
If I’d gotten to ask my question, here’s what it would have been (cribbed in large part from the Director of the Institute of Museum and Library Services, Susan Hildreth’s, suggestion):
The President mentioned in his address that local institutions like community colleges and schools are essential to training a successful future workforce for America. Libraries are also critical to these local efforts because our entire mission is to democratize information and expertise. Nowhere else can anyone in any community get free access to books and periodicals, computers and the internet, and technology and skills training, to either pursue education or find a job. We librarians have a lot of great ideas about how communities can support and leverage libraries to meet the administration’s goals. How can we best collaborate with you on this?
So hey, if anyone wants to answer that question we’re all still listening.
There are more live online events with Obama and his administration all week — see the schedule here. You can send in your questions too — so take this chance and participate!