Everyone Needs a Public E-Mailbox

There are lots of e-mails I re­ceive that are of gen­eral in­ter­est to peo­ple. Some of them might be the ba­sis for a blog entry…eventually. But, what about now? Or, what if I just want to tweet about it? How do I link to some­thing in the tweet?

For these rea­sons and more, I use a pub­lic mail­box for stash­ing var­i­ous an­nounce­ments and other items of pub­lic in­ter­est to make the e-mails link­able and find­able. Here’s an ex­am­ple of how I used it re­cently.

I con­tacted the Contra Costa County Office of Elections to get the full text (not scan) for the WCCUSD par­cel tax for the June bal­lot. They e-mailed it to me promptly. Although I wanted it to use in a blog post later, for now I wanted to share it and give a hat-tip to the Office of Elections. So, here’s what I did:

  1. I redi­rected the e-mail from my in-box to the ad­dress for my pub­lic mail­box. (You could for­ward, too.)
  2. Because my pub­lic mail­box is ac­tu­ally a Google Group, the e-mail is posted in a pub­lic page. The e-mail post in­cludes the at­tach­ments.
  3. I opened the post­ing and copied the URL as a link.
  4. I then used the link in a tweet.

Setting Up the Mailbox

You just need a Google ac­count to set up a Google Group. You can then make any e-mail ad­dress a “mem­ber” for post­ing e-mails. Just re­mem­ber to set it up so only mem­bers can post and no one can be­come a mem­ber with­out be­ing in­vited first. This should keep out any spam­mers.

Redirect vs. Forward

Redirection is like for­ward­ing ex­cept that it pre­tends to have come from the orig­i­nal sender and is more likely to pre­serve orig­i­nal for­mat­ting. It’s avail­able in Outlook and as an ex­ten­sion in Thunderbird. Either ap­proach works though.

The Overall Picture

Public Comment Clips for WCCUSD BOE Meetings

Every West Contra Costa USD Board of Education meet­ing in­cludes a seg­ment for gen­eral pub­lic com­ment on non-agenda items. In the meet­ings I have at­tended, this can be an in­ter­est­ing di­rect in­sight into what peo­ple are think­ing about. There are two prob­lems with this:

  1. The min­utes only show the names of speak­ers, not what they said.
  2. The speak­ers are called in or­der, not by what they are speak­ing about, so it can be hard to fol­low a sin­gle topic when lis­ten­ing.

As a so­lu­tion to (1), I’ve started a project to clip out these pub­lic com­ment seg­ments from WCCUSD board meet­ing archives and post to my YouTube chan­nel. I’ve started work­ing my way back and will con­tinue to add to a playlist I’ve set up that con­tains all of these clips.

One Way to Create Video Clips from a Streaming Source

Regular WCCUSD school board meet­ings are tele­vised and archived on­line on the City of Richmond Web site. These archived videos are playable through an em­bed­ded Windows me­dia player. However, you might be in­ter­ested in just one part of the meet­ing. To share it with oth­ers, you’d like to grab this part and post it to YouTube. How do you do it? There may be other ways, but here’s how I do it. Even though this is about pro­cess­ing a video file in an em­bed­ded Windows me­dia player us­ing a spe­cific pro­gram, it should be adapt­able to many other sit­u­a­tions. (more…)