[LINK] How Obama Will Use Web Technology

stephen at melbpc.org.au stephen at melbpc.org.au
Sun Jan 25 18:54:26 AEDT 2009

How Obama Will Use Web Technology

Saturday, January 24, 2009; 2:54 AM  <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-

President Barack Obama was sworn into office this week as our nation's 
44th president. Despite running into a few technical challenges in the 
first few days at the White House, the Obama Administration will embrace 
technology in unprecedented ways. 

Led by forward thinking, web savvy technologists, President Obama's new 
media team looks poised and ready to fulfill President Obama's vision of 
open-source democracy. 

Coincident with Mr. Obama being sworn in, the Obama Administration's new 
media team assumed control of www.WhiteHouse.gov at 12:01 PM EST on 
Tuesday. This is the official website of the sitting administration. 

The new media team has identified three top priorities of the new 
administration, communication, transparency and participation. 


Let's examine how the new administration has been leveraging web 
technologies to meet these priorities. 


This administration's use of Google's YouTube during both the campaign 
and after winning the election leverages Internet video to reach a 
generation of Americans and global citizens who no longer tune in to AM 
radio on a regular basis. President Obama has vowed to continue video 
recording his fireside chats and publishing them via YouTube and other 
video sites. With the transition of www.WhiteHouse.gov to the new 
administration, for the first time ever an official White House blog came 
online. You can sign up for email updates from the president. Through the 
blog, Mr. Obama is the first U.S. president to have an RSS feed! 

During the campaign President Obama relied heavily on Facebook, Myspace 
and Twitter to build support, communicate with constituents and develop a 
core audience. By far, Mr. Obama has more followers on Twitter than 
anyone else (168,000). His fan page on Facebook has more than 4 million 
fans. <http://twitter.com/BarackObama>


Mr. Obama promises to run the most open, honest and transparent 
administration to date. Through the Your Seat at The Table section on the 
CHANGE.GOV transition site, the Obama transition team posted the minutes 
of hundreds of private meetings with then President-Elect Obama. 


Even all of the content on the www.CHANGE.GOV site, unless otherwise 
noted, is licensed to the public at large via a Creative Commons 
Attribution 3.0 License. 

The Obama-Biden Transition Team used blist to disclose the names of all 
donors to the transition project. Two key points of note are that the 
disclosure was entirely voluntary and the tool they chose to use made the 
data itself much more consumable by the mainstream public. Compared to a 
plain HTML table, which is bulky, cumbersome and hard to work with, by 
publishing the data via a blist widget the data can easily be sorted, 
searched, filtered, downloaded, printed, emailed and even republished.

Obama Administration has been conducting bold experiments in interactive 
government. The Citizen's Briefing Book, powered by Salesforce.com, has 
allowed citizens to suggest topics Mr. Obama should consider upon taking 

Once a topic was submitted, other visitors to the Citizen's Briefing Book 
could vote the topic up or down and comment on it. Voting, ranking and 
commenting are hallmark features of web social media applications. 

The new Administration has brought forth a new era of honest, open, 
participatory and transparent government by creatively employing web-
based software from innovative companies like Google, Facebook, 
Salesforce.com and blist. We're eager to see the use of these 
technologies extended to www.WhiteHouse.gov initially and from there we'd 
love to see more government agencies quickly embrace web technologies to 
promote communication, transparency and participation. 

Cheers people
Stephen Loosley
Victoria, Australia

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