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Talk about a launch: minutes after Barack Obama took his oath and became the 44th President of the United States of America, a new Whitehouse.gov launched.
And it appears that President Obama, who made extensive use of the internet as a presidential candidate, will continue to use the internet as the most powerful man in the world.
Whitehouse.gov features a blog, RSS feeds and an email newsletter.
The first blog post was published by Macon Phillips, the White House's Director of New Media. Now how cool is that? In it, he writes:"Millions of Americans have powered President Obama's journey to the White House, many taking advantage of the internet to play a role in shaping our country's future. WhiteHouse.gov is just the beginning of the new administration's efforts to expand and deepen this online engagement."
"Just like your new government, WhiteHouse.gov and the rest of the Administration's online programs will put citizens first."Macon lists three new media priorities:
- Communication. The new administration wants plans to provide "timely and in-depth content meant to keep everyone up-to-date and educated" using Whitehouse.gov.
- Transparency. Politicians are often criticized for not being transparent and it appears that President Obama plans to use the internet to change that. According to Phillips, "The President's executive orders and proclamations will be published for everyone to review, and that’s just the beginning of our efforts to provide a window for all Americans into the business of the government."
Participation. Noting that the new President was a community organizer, Phillips states that President Obama will encourage citizens to participate in his administration using the internet. To start: non-emergency legislation will be posted to Whitehouse.gov, where citizens will have 5 days to comment on it and provide suggestions of their own.
These, of course, are tenets of good social media strategy.
To be sure, President Obama is the first "internet president" and I think citizens, policy analysts, media pundits and technology enthusiasts have good reason to believe that his use of the internet will be substantive, not just stylish.
The Obama administration has the ability to turn Whitehouse.gov into one of the most important, dynamic and interactive websites in the world and his use of technology during his campaign has led many to believe that he knows the internet is more than fluff; that he understands the beneficial role technology can play in the governing process.
Like all website launches, however, execution is key to success. Will President Obama provide high-quality content to his stakeholders on a regular basis? Will he stay engaged? Will he listen to the feedback he's provided? Will he act on it?
President Obama has the opportunity to leverage the power of the internet at a pivotal point in his country's history. Everything so far indicates that there's a good chance he'll seize it, providing in the process a great case study for us in the tech and media worlds.