Monday, October 22, 2012

China Weekly Hangout: where are we going?

A diversion from our regular China debate at the China Weekly Hangout for making an update on the developments up to now.
We do this, because it seems a good idea to get your feedback, but partly too because the invited guests for this week could not make it, and - for another part - because of travel by your humble moderator. I expect to be around on the regular time at Thursday 25 October, 10pm Beijing Time, 4pm CEST (Europe) and 10am EST (US). This time, we have no panelists, but I will invite who register at our event page, as far as technology allows, up to a maximum of nine.

On November 1, we plan a hangout on eight years of harmonious society. Do we have now a clue what is meant by that concept, and what do we expect for the next eight years? More announcements on this weblog.


The agenda for this Thursday is open for all subjects regarding the China Weekly Hangout, and I would like to get some feedback on what we have been doing till now (a full list of our hangouts at the tail). It will help if you announce an item you want to discuss here in the comments in advance. 

A few agenda points of myself:
The format: The idea behind the China Weekly Hangout was to include more people into the debate, not only the experts on different subjects, but that has not yet worked out. I find the hangouts engaging enough, but am still looking to get more participants in. Or keep do we keep it like this for the next few months? There are a few practical limitations on getting more people in at this stage: the number of Google+ users in China is compared to other countries, limited (0.09% of the internet population according to Circlecount). And it is a bit of a challenge for a one-man show to focus both on the event as a moderator and deal with the technology (including pulling people in).
The technology: We are working with emerging technology, as you might have noticed. Participants drop out regularly (and mostly come back again). Google is working to improve the technology, but at this stage we are still speculating on what we can do to improve the technical quality. One unavoidable barrier is that the hangouts-on-air are connected to YouTube, and you need a VPN or proxy for access from China. That might limit the possible number of participants, but we are not sure if quality issues are related to the GFW; they seem to occur in every continent. What are you experiences? Some people suggested plain hangouts are better than hangouts-on-air (broadcast and recorded on YouTube), but then we would lose most of our current audience.

Guest and subjects: We are getting a nice pool of guests, and when you talk about China, there is no shortage of good subjects. But getting the two together at the right moment is still a challenge. Panelists need to be available for an hour, and some familiarity with Google+ is useful but not needed. (I do mostly a dry run with newbies). Tips on both potential panelists and subjects you want to discuss are useful (and you can report for duty yourself too).
Tips and tricks: Using Google Hangouts is very simple, but there are ways to improve your participation beyond just clicking on the invitation link: is there any need for a short introduction for hangout participants?

Please register here for participation on Thursday.



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