If it is, I wordled the Obama news conference transcript.
The future’s uncertain – and the end is always near. Obama thinks more than he knows.
WANDERING THE NEW MEDIA UNIVERSE
For those of you, including me, who had asked what would happen to the community-level power that was harnessed by the Obama campaign through BarackObama.com, I have an answer. Ummm, sort of.
In an email to supporters and a video, Obama for America director David Plouffe introduced Mitch Stewart as the head of Organizing for America, which President Obama alluded to in his last weekly video statement as President-Elect.
Stewart ran the President’s Iowa caucus and Virginia presidential campaigns.
In the six-minute message, Plouffe and Stewart thanked supporters for their past help, and promised the new site would engage supporters and be built on getting “friends talk to friends and neighbors talk to neighbors about the issues they care about.”
The campaign collected a half-million surveys during the transition, and got more feedback from Obama house parties, and in the end… we’re not sure what’s next.
Plouffe thanked supporters for their financial help for the transition and inauguration, and noted “It’s going to be a little trial and error” for the new organization.
We’ll now just have to see what’s in their first trial plan.
So, it’s a new era. Did you enjoy the inaugural? Because it’s time to forget about that stuff and get the people back to work.
The administration of Barack Obama is already making some steps toward taking its new technology initiatives to the White House, but plenty of challenges remain.
Right at noon, the Obama team rolled out the new White House website at whitehouse.gov – folding in many of the features from change.gov (except the actual user comments and content – is that all gone now?), including a blog and the Office of the Public Liaison, where users can submit their comments for the Administration in 500 words or less.
In his first post as White House Director of New Media, Macon Phillips noted there would be more changes to come, and announced that the White House would post all Executive Orders and Proclamations on the site. He also noted as has been widely reported that the President would post all non-emergency bills passed by Congress on the site for five days to let users comment on them before he considers signing them.
Will there be issues that public opinion could sway the White House? Will we have a news conference where the President says, “The people spoke up, and so I am vetoing this bill?” It seems a little hard to conceive of – but even giving people the chance to get their voices on the record (and one would assume this record must be preserved) is a step toward openness, and a noteworthy one.
But the White House site is just one route to continuing the conversation online. There are a number of other sites that could be folded into a new entity. There’s MyBarackObama.com – the big kahuna in all this – with millions of members and more importantly, a way to let users engage each other. There usaservice.org – the site launched for the Day of Service on January 19th, that shares the localization and event planning features of the campaign site – but neither of these sites have been significantly updated on Day 1.
And, there’s the “Organizing for America” initiative that Obama mentioned in his weekly address last Saturday. The White House will somehow partner with the Democratic National Committee to launch this new initiative, but the announcement shed little light on it.
With an estimated 13 million people signed up with the campaign, re-energizing this base to stay involved will be a critical challenge. Whether it can be done within the restrictions and requirements of the Presidential Records Act and other laws is something we’ll be watching.
But it only seems to make sense that Obama would look outside the White House to move this powerful coalition of the people forward. No matter how much he wants to make the White House more open and transparent, the only way to build an effective network for change will be to ply the role of running water, and flow around the obstacles.
I’m watching the Obama concert, and totally hooked in on the one hand – but on the other, I’ll be glad when this week is over.
Watching the Obama Express travel to DC, and the concert today, and seeing the breathless excitement on the faces of so many millions of people who are traveling to Washington to witness history from a mile away, just to say they were in DC when a new era dawned, I am touched – and nervous.
The emotion is touching – Bill Clinton was from Hope, but it appears Barack Obama is perceived to be carved from it. And in that hope, there is the burden of expectation. It is as though we expect to wake up on Wednesday, January 21 in a new place, with our sins redeemed – our toxic loans disinfected, our transgressions overseas forgiven, our 401(k)s reinstilled with value.
And that is my fear. We all seem to get on some level how big the economic problems we face are – but do *we* have the gumption to actually fix our problems? Do we understand not just that the key word in the slogan “Yes we can” is *we*, but that the most critical is “can?” It’s not, “Yes, we will,” or “Yes, we shall.”- it’s yes we can. And inherent in that phrase is the acknowledgment that we might not.
And the problems are daunting and personal. We have real issues – after I finish this post, my wife and I will be reworking our budget to account for the pain of a layoff, and the expectation that the next job will pay substantially less than the one just lost. And those problems won’t be solved at 12pm on Tuesday. In fact, we will just begin a new chapter – after two years of campaigning and planning, two years of words – it will be Barack Obama’s first day for action.
In some ways, The Obama Express didn’t begin in Philadelphia on Saturday – it departed in 2007, and slowly gathered speed and momentum as more people climbed aboard. Now it faces the climb uphill – and it is a climb that charisma, charm and personal brilliance cannot make happen. Instead, all of those who rode this train, it is time to step off, get behind and push. Because the only way the train will make this climb is with the strength of many hands. And if we don’t do our part as a people to pick ourselves up and move forward, then we will have failed, not Obama. Presidents do not fix, they provide opportunity. Only we as a nation can turn that to solutions.
In the end, to borrow a conservative phrase, we need “A hand up – not a hand out.”
Only this time it is not a Presidential hand that will help us up. It is our hands, reaching skyward, that must support and carry him.
(Photo by: Alex Brandon/AP)
So, I discussed White House communications today on NECN – including whether Barack Obama should have a Blackberry. He really wants one. He even told Barbara Walters that. But it’s still up in the air because of security and legal concerns.
Maybe I’m slow, but I don’t quite get it. It’s easy to save every “I <3 change” e-mail, SMS or IM he sends or receives – and from a security standpoint, if it’s good enough for all the members of Congress, and all the President’s staff – one would think there would be a way to make the Blackberry secure enough for the future Commander-in-Chief.
If not – that’s troubling to me in many ways.
What else is troubling? The fact that every now and then I realize just how badly people less than half my age are kicking my tech butt. (Heck, there are probably kids out there a quarter of my age who can kick it, too, but I choose not to think about that.) Take IntenseDebate. The company is providing the commenting infrastructure for change.gov. And as Micah Sifry points out, one of the four developers who made this platform possible is 17.
I’d send a quick Blackberry message to Barack Obama noting that the administration needs to help get older people more effectively plugged in to technology. But he might not be allowed to get it.
After two days where I was bumped off the morning program here because of time concerns – and oh, yes, I did give the producers a hard time for deciding that the campaign news didn’t need to include the ‘Net (since there wasn’t much going on there, right?) – I was back today to check out the new Obama-Biden Transition Team website, change.gov.
So far – it’s a 401 error I can believe in. But I’m looking forward to it – and if the new administration can figure out how to tap into the grassroots online energy of the campaign, we are on the cusp of a watershed moment in political history. (Notice the gesturing in the thumbnail here. *That’s* how important this is. No kidding around…)
But that is one heck of an ‘if.’
And I had to note that the First Dog is getting more selection feedback in the blogosphere than the new Chief of Staff, and give proper props to the New Hampshire State Senate, the first majority-female legislative body in U.S. history.
I’m feeling a need to make change – not just report on it… which will
segway segue into my next post/assignment for you all.