Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Wyre Forest Politics in full view

With the new Single Site (officially named Wyre Forest House though Tenko Towers, Campion Towers, or various less flattering names have been offered) comes a bonus - council web casting. The first full council meeting was cast on the 21st and all 2 hours is available to view here. Amazingly the option to view the webcast can be found on the council's front page though it is tucked away near the bottom on a tab.

I've been slowly plodding through it with the quick links on the side making life so much more helpful; as I've yet to finish at this time I'll constrain myself to technical commentary.

I'll start in a highly technical manner by pointing out that this uses Adobe Flash rather than the newer HTML5 video element; I suspect this is done for comparability reasons. In theory there's no reason not to have both but that would generally require encoding the video in two different ways.

Secondly the fullscreen icon does not display the video fullscreen, rather it displays a clickable item on the video which them needs to be selected.

Rather nicely the timeline to the left updates as the video is played with the person currently speaking being displayed both to the left and above the video. The left hand timeline also acts as a shortcut jump.

Likewise choosing any of the tabs above to access additional information moves the video off to the right and continues playing. As an aside it would therefore be nice if the PDF'ed Agenda could be displayed in frame rather than as a separate tab or programme. Feedback seems to be offline; whether that only works during a live broadcast I don't know. Live Chat on the other hand seems to be a Twitter feed. Sadly the polling for that doesn't seem to work correctly as it will constantly repeat the same one and only tweet tagged #wfdclive

Minor tweaks - volume is set far too loudly on my system; it's a system thing, so difficult to get right, but with system volume set to 100 I have to drop the volume down to the single dot for it not to be too loud. It would also be nice if alongside the speaker timeline/heading their affiliation was displayed, possibly even their represented ward. I know that in theory it shouldn't matter, but given the general disinterest in politics the option to be able to jump to when 'your' representative is speaking may aid the casual viewer.

On the whole a promising start. Given the time frame in which most meetings seem to operate this is a welcome opportunity for anyone to at least see what their council is doing and no excuses not to get the tiniest bit involved.