February 12th, 2009
After three weeks, here is my initial assessment of the Obama administration online.
Where they’ve made progress:
- The President keeping his BlackBerry
- Moving the weekly address to YouTube
- Introducing a more modern look and feel and more transparent whitehouse.gov
- Continuing to use mybarackobama.com and barackobama.com (now retitled Organizing for America and linked to the Democratic Party) to contact his followers
Next steps we’re awaiting:
- The White House Office of Public Liaison establishing some sort of Web 2.0 capacity for dialogue on whitehouse.gov, comparable to what exists on mybarackobama.com and what existed on change.gov
- Launching the website for the economic recovery program, recovery.gov
Big question for the future:
- Will the Obama constituency, using the tools on Organizing for America, be able to move the center in American politics? To do so, it will have to start changing the votes of moderate Republicans and conservative Democrats. The vote on the recovery package – no Republican support in the House and only three (Snowe, Collins, Specter) in the Senate – suggests this hasn’t happened yet.
Some questions about the public management implications:
- Now that Obama has cleared the way, will other senior administration officials go online?
- Will the departments copy the new look and feel of whitehouse.gov and begin using Web 2.0 approaches with their constituents? (One of the difficulties the sprawling US administration has had is adopting a common look and feel for its websites. The Government of Canada has been more successful here.)
- Are a host of new media positions being created in the departments as well as the White House to bring in IT-savvy members of the Net Generation to manage the Obama Administration’s new Internet and, increasingly, Web 2.0 infrastructure?