Last week we looked at President Bill Clinton’s 1999 “internet town hall”—an event that was essentially the very first Presidential AMA. The Clinton Library has kindly released the full video of the event, and even though it’s filled with technical glitches and wonky talking points, it’s amazing, if only for the GIF potential alone.
Watching the entire 1 hour and 45 minutes is a bit of a bore. The first 3o minutes consists of the moderator throwing to different elected officials around the country. And we don’t get a view of them from our given camera angle.
There are technical glitches, which were certainly to be expected. The moderator even whispers to President Clinton at one point, “maybe the internet is actually jammed.” But again, the GIFs that one can make are quite versatile. Bill Clinton giving a thumbs up to a computer? That was made to be GIF’d.
Granted, there are plenty of interesting parts of the video for Presidential history nerds. Like around 20:50 when a Wisconsin State Rep from Milwaukee discusses “Homeboyz Interactive,” an initiative to get former gang members various jobs in the IT sector.
And it’s fascinating to see Clinton take questions about the future of healthcare and higher education from T-Love939, GBH1935, and SissyBill.
But again, it’s all about those GIFs.
Clinton’s response to a question about how people who aren’t computer literate will do in the new tech-centric economy is both a reminder of how far we’ve come since 1999 and how far we have to go:
I think we should also be trying to get people who aren’t computer literate to be computer literate and then to have access to the technology, because I believe if we have the same density of computer and Internet access that we have of telephone access, that would dramatically improve the economic prospects for a lot of Americans and, I might add, a lot of people around the world.
Those GIFs though...
[Correction: A previous version of this post referred to a Milwaukee-based at-risk youth program as “Homeboys Interactive” rather than “Homeboyz Interactive,” with a Z. Gizmodo regrets the error.]