Friday, November 14, 2008

YouTube fireside chats begin tomorrow

Obama's team is moving quickly, with the speed that you would expect from a technology savvy transition. Washington Post covers the story, as Obama spokeperson Jen Psaki revealed that Obama has already recoreded his first weekly address to the American public, and the video will be on YouTube tomorrow (check back here for the link).

I want to call attention to an item at the end of the WaPo article, it's a great quote from Ellen Miller of the Sunlight Foundation:
Added Ellen Miller of the Sunlight Foundation, a D.C.-based nonprofit that advocates for government transparency: "We're living, after all, in the Internet era. This is an individualized version of the 'fireside chats.' It's not delivered between 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. but whenever anyone wants to see it. I don't know if it necessarily creates transparency -- it's still a controlled, one-way message. But it creates the aura of a much more accessible presidency."
This is really a make-or-break issue in how Obama uses technology. Will he use it to truly increase transparency, invite public input and open up government? Or will he simply apply the new tools to the old framework of tight message control and spinning news cycles?

At this point, he has hammered the "change" point so hard that it's hard to imagine how he could fail without the media and the public noticing and holding him accountable. And we have no reason to believe that he isn't truly committed to using technology to make revolutionary changes, rather than minor incremental improvements.

Nonetheless, with the economy still in crisis, and the pressure to achieve policy results on health care, Iraq and more, it would be easy for all this talk of tech and innovation to fall by the wayside.

In a later post, I will highlight some ways I believe Obama can ensure that his use of technology amounts to more than just window dressing, and how the American public will know the difference.

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