Inauguration Moments and Links

Like many people around the world, I was stirred by the inauguration of President Obama. Listening to his speech, I wanted to share a couple of the bits that stood out for me, as well as a few related links that caught my eye during the day. I already shared most of these links via twitter but thought they deserved a blog post as well.

  1. As you might guess, I loved Obama’s inauguration speech calling to America to step up to big challenges:

    In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of shortcuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted — for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things — some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom….

    Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions — who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage….

    What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.

    Amen! As you know, I do believe we face great challenges, and must rise to them. How fabulous to have a President who acknowledges the joy of what is hard! Leadership begins with vision, hope and a sense of possibility. People follow because they believe in that vision. This is a man who makes me want to sign on the dotted line!

  2. I loved the promise on the new to “publish all non-emergency legislation to the website for five days, and allow the public to review and comment before the President signs it.” I also love the fact that all of the public comment on is licensed under Creative Commons licensing. (As Carl Malamud pointed out, the government-contributed material is already in the public domain – a good reminder!)

    Obama Street

  3. In a lighter vein, I loved the San Francisco prank that replaced Bush Street signs with Obama Street. Amazing bit of coordination to get as many of the street signs relabeled as they did before the police stopped them.
  4. I also got a kick out of Jennifer Pahlka’s tweet: “I’m taking obama’s mention of “makers of things” as a coded endorsement for MAKE
  5. CNN’s partnership with Microsoft to build a Photosynth model of the Inauguration out of user-contributed photographs is an amazing demonstration of the power of Photosynth and the future of collective visualization. What’s so cool is that the demo keeps getting better as more photos are added. (Silverlight install required, but worth it. And yes, Silverlight, AKA moonlight, works on Linux.)
  6. The other great image of the inauguration came to me via Doc Searls on twitter: the ManyEyes visualization of the word tree for the Inauguration speech, showing phrases rooted in the words “we will”:


    (Also try searching just on the word “we,” as well as “we are”.) A cool visualization tool helping to see the key ideas of a wonderful speech!

  7. Update: A wonderful photo, via Dave Winer:
    Sasha gives her dad the thumbs up! (Not reprinted here, because it’s “all rights reserved,” but do follow the link and take a look!)

  8. Update 2: Another wonderful photo, from Popular Science, shows a satellite view of the Inauguration. Amazing how like an antheap Washington looks.
  • David Wasserman

    Having a low tolerance for ceremony, I skipped the broadcast, but read the text of his address on-line.

    I guess I’m a nitpicker, but I quickly noticed Obama’s error in stating that 44 Americans had taken the presidential oath. He’s the 44th president, but Grover Cleveland was the 22nd and 24th, so only 43 Americans have taken the presidential oath.

    I thought this was a simple slip, but this quotation on Bloomberg caught my eye: “We thought it would be less confusing to overlook the historical footnote and use 44,” Obama spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

    So Obama has started his presidency by treating his audience as children who need to be protected from details that might confuse them.

    I wish him all the best, but I don’t think that attitude is an auspicious way to begin.

  • I know of two other street renaming pranks that I imagine might have inspired the Bush/Obama rename. One was “Oak St.” in San Francisco being renamed to “Java St.” during JavaOne (the code-name of the project to develop Java was Oak).

    The more memorable one was the Malcolm X St. project, which took place in Portland in 1991. Here are some links about it:

    Tim, you should totally get Igor (see those links) to Foo Camp.

  • David —

    Your comment is a great demonstration of something, but I’m not sure what. If he’d done the opposite, I imagine you’d be ragging on Obama for being a nitpicker.

    I’d say that it demonstrates something we’ve already seen a lot of from Obama: Pragmatism.

    I’d say that’s a good thing.

  • David Wasserman

    Tim —
    Actually, I appreciate nit-pickers. In my line of work (data analysis, educational testing, and test scoring) nit-picking is a requirement.

    But when I am faced with a choice between a minor inaccuracy and a truth that will be perceived as an inaccuracy, I always look for a way to fudge so as to be both correct and perceived to be correct.

    In this case, I would have avoided numbers. Although generally to be avoided, the passive voice could have been used here: “The presidential oath has been taken in times . . .”.

    The fact that a great many people have noticed this minor error (see the NYT web site, for example) shows that it was a distraction from the main themes of the speech, and therefore an error.

    I also looked through the speech for indications of a recognition of the limits of growth. There may have been some there. What do you think?

  • I liked the way Obama translated the energy and climate change issue into a concrete threat, echoing your Pascal’s Wager post.

    each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet

    All of which makes perfect sense after watching Dan Gilbert’s Pop!Tech talk on what kinds of threats press our buttons.

  • Kathleen Buckley

    What resonated with me as President Obama enumerated the ways in which we can contribute to the rejuvenation of America was the following:
    “A parent’s willingness to nurture a child.” So mundane yet so profoundly important. This got me to pondering my own three children–yes I’m raising them but am I nurturing them as if our future depended on it? I believe I can work harder, more diligently and more consistently, at nurturing my children.

  • Watching this great moment from France, where our opposition deputies are at the same time singing the Marseillaise in the Parliament, to help themselves to resist to the change… Oh wow, you are leading the way as you did in the past and I wish this vision will help all of us in the Old World too as it will help you there to go ahead in more wellness of the humanity. Thanks for making me discover this Many eyes website …

  • Mary Fricker

    My favorite line: “Let it be said by our children’s children that when we were tested … we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.”

  • Dr. Colombes

    Puh-leaze, get real O’Reilly.

    There’s no reason to go dizzy over
    an affirmative action opportunist with no experience who is elected a leftist-socialist President thanks to a $650 million campaign chest and a fawning, sycophant non-vetting mainstream media, and now appoints:
    a Treasury Secretary who is a four-time deliberate tax cheat;
    an Attorney General who, as Assistant Attorney General in a previous Administration, obtains a pardon for domestic terrorists, and circumvents the Justice Department to obtain a Presidential pardon for the FBI’s #2-most wanted fugitive;
    an EPA Chief who is an international socialist;
    a Secretary of State whose husband’s Clinton Foundation has received tens of millions of dollars from international regimes of dubious reputation;
    a Chief of Staff is a dirty, sleazy, corrupt Chicago politician, just like his boss O’Bama,
    and who, without a teleprompter, needs to check with his Counsel about the contents of his first Executive Orders.

    Puh-leaze spare us the O’Bama-mania. He’s a leftist phony who is trying to take the country to a socialist disaster.

  • Steve Pranulis

    What is the correct stance for un-substantiated mud slinging? Is it the same as for slander, or for bearing false witness? Is it a reptilian belly crawl through the primordial ooze of irrational fear and loathing? Or is it a back stroke?

    And does one project a mirror image of all one’s own shortcomings onto the target, or merely the worst ones?

    Just wondering. :>)

  • Aleksander Ambrotheziak

    Play time is over President Obama. Its not “Just Words.”

    “Factum non verba”