In all the excitement of the inauguration today, I wanted to call out one amazing success story. Today, change.gov became WhiteHouse.gov. For those of us in tech, this is an amazing affirmation. Not only did the Web 2.0 principles of user-engagement, viral outreach, rapid development, and real-time intelligence help Obama to win the presidency, he’s bringing the same principles and the same team to manage his outreach during his time in office.
This is an amazing moment for anyone involved with Web 2.0. There’s a long road ahead, but it’s clear that many of the lessons that were learned first on the consumer internet are now being applied to much harder, more serious problems.
Congratulations also to the team at Blue State Digital, who built both sites (along, no doubt, with many people on the transition team.) (BTW, for more information, see the Radar interview with Blue State co-founder and CTO Jascha Franklin-Hodge.) Big Oops. Don’t know why I said this, as Jascha explicitly told me last month that they hadn’t worked on the site. He confirmed this just now in email, saying ” We’ve long said that our focus as a business is not going to be government work, but we expect the incoming White House New Media team to continue the tradition of innovation that marked the campaign and the transition.” Brain fart. Thanks to commenter Arnie, who reminded me of this fact.
One of the things that excites me the most is the way that the new administration is reaching out to small companies rather than to the normal behemoths who bid on government contracts. Among other things, in an environment where we all need to do more with less, it’s fabulous to see how the latest web technology can be deployed by small teams. I think that there will be many opportunities in the coming year for technologists to make a difference in helping our new administration achieve its ambitious goals.
President Obama started his career as a community organizer on the South Side of Chicago, where he saw firsthand what people can do when they come together for a common cause. Citizen participation will be a priority for the Administration, and the internet will play an important role in that. One significant addition to WhiteHouse.gov reflects a campaign promise from the President: we will publish all non-emergency legislation to the website for five days, and allow the public to review and comment before the President signs it.
There are going to be some real challenges for the administration in digesting and responding to those comments. But what a change!