Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Wired White House

Wow - what an INTERESTING article about Obama's use of technology, and the future of his organization.

The Wired White House, by Alan Boyle, posted Nov. 21, 08

You can get some of the article's highlights here, in video format; this is an interview with Simon Rosenberg, the president and founder of the political advocacy group NDN --

Some points from the MSNBC article and Rosenbberg interview that particularly interested me:

* It will be common for government agencies to host videos and blogs. Rosenberg said "you're going to see competition at the weekly Cabinet meeting between the DHS secretary and the HHS secretary over who had more views on their YouTube video, and who had more comments on their blog."

* Presidential addresses and press briefings might not only appear on YouTube (like Obama's recent Saturday "radio" address), but might be webcast globally, translated into multiple languages. Rosenberg gave the example of "David Cameron, the leader of Britain's Conservative Party, who stars in a series of 'Webcameron' videos that touch upon his party's policies as well as his personal life. 'You can watch videos of him washing dishes in his sink,' Rosenberg said."

* Scott Goodstein, Obama for America external online director, managed attracting social networkers to to the cause via Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc, heavily utilizing widely used networking tools, and consumer trends: computers, cell phones, and other mobile devices. "For instance, one of the tools devised for the campaign was a downloadable application that could turn an iPhone into a hand-held political operative. 'We were able to organize people's address books based on who their friends were in battleground states,' Goodstein said. The campaign could also send out messages tailored to different geographic areas."

* Obama campaign staff are joining the transition, moving on to other causes, or taking breaks. Obama's top political organizers are reportedly meeting in Chicago to consider where to go from here.

For more information on this, check out this interview with "Marshall Ganz, who teaches public policy at the Kennedy School and is attached to the Hauser Center on Nonprofit Organizations. Ganz is a giant in the field of community organizing, with seminal experience going back to the civil rights movement and working with Cesar Chavez's United Farm Workers. More important for the present moment, Ganz was the architect of Barack Obama's grassroots organizing juggernaut. He played a central role in the "Camp Obama" training sessions--three-day intensive workshops attended by something like 23,000 local organizers--and his teachings on the theory and practice of community organizing were widely influential on the campaign's local efforts."

source: Marshall Ganz on the Future of the Obama Movement, By Micah L. Sifry, 11/20/2008 - 12:03pm

* The question seems to be, not who is going to own the list of supporters, but what's going to happen because of it? Campaign manager David Plouffe circulated an online survey to active Obama volunteers, asking "Would you like to continue to volunteer in your community as part of an Obama organization?" Supporters could select from "promoting Obama's legislative initiatives, working for like-minded candidates or training volunteers in the organizing techniques we used to elect Barack." Thomas Gensemer, managing partner for Blue State Digital, the company that created the Web sites for the Obama campaign as well as, said that a key part of maintaining that engagement will be to recognize volunteers' efforts. The data that vistors to submit will likely be "packaged and proudly displayed in the days to come."

* A Newsweek story said that since it's illegal for Obama to communicate with just his supporters, the transition team is considering setting up a nonprofit organization that would buy the address/phone/e-mail lists of Obama campaign supporters. "The nonprofit would serve as a conduit, letting the administration maintain indirect contact with supporters," Newsweek reports. The article also reports that not all of Obama's team members will stay involved: "Joe Rospars, who ran Obama's Internet team, is returning to Blue State Digital, which he cofounded in 2004. Other top staff expressed privately that the bigger opportunities and money will be found in dotcom, not dotgov."

As a side note, there has been some recent news coverage regarding Obama surrender of his Blackberry. This newsweek story also explains why that's happening.

Another side note is that this Newsweek article mentions that during his campaign, Obama talked about appointing a technology czar, either a senior-level, or even cabinet-level, position, responsible for making the Obama White House transparent and efficient.

If this topic interests you, then also check out this powerpoint presentation, prepared by Micah Sifry, from --

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