At 12:00 PM Eastern Standard Time on January 20, 2009 Barrack Obama became the 44th President of the United States of America. At exactly the same time, and with considerably less ceremony, the official White House website transformed. It is undoubtedly a sign of the times that the “peaceful transfer of power” includes a website roll over. That alone could be the topic of a dissertation.
It is a much discussed fact that President Obama used the power of the web and of new media more during his campaign than any other candidate in the history of this country. What I find particularly interesting, however, is that this masterful use of new media marketing did not stop when he placed his hand on the Lincoln Bible. Quite the contrary, it appears that they Obama political machine plans to use the internet and new media tools as much for governing as it did for campaigning.
Upon first landing on WhiteHouse.gov, I am struck first by the slick, modern, elegant feel – something I have come to expect from the Obama camp. (For an intersting comparison to the previous White House website, check out this Gizmodo post). My primary concern, however, is not the look, but the integration of new, social, and dynamic web elements.
For fun, I pulled up the page source and glanced at the code and was surprised to see six auto-discovery RSS feeds:
- Agenda Articles Feed
- Press Office Feed
- OMB News Article Feed
- Blog Feed
- Photo Gallery Feed
- Video Feed
Oddly enough, it appears that the blog feed is the only one that is currently active. Nevertheless, excuse the somewhat juvenile excitement here, but how cool is it that the leader of the free world has blog, photo, and video feeds. (Please note that I am fully aware that President Obama is neither blogging nor running this website, but it is no less exciting that the office of the President has undertaken these things.)
The official blog of the new White House is prominently featured on the front page, and I cannot help but think that this is my new ammunition against the crusty old executive who asks, “why the hell do we need a blog?”
The blog itself isn’t much yet, but if you go to the front page of the blog, you can see that the first five posts were all published at 12:01 PM. Looking at the front page right on innauguration day, I could not help but notice that the very nature of this blog reinforces a sense of rebirth…it simply starts at 12:01 PM as if there was nothing before it.
Further exploration of the Obama Administration’s new website reveals an as-yet-empty section for President Obama’s weekly video address. There are no videos yet, but I would bet $20 that the video players have full shareabilty functions like one click embedding.
I finish my tour of the new White House website by visiting the contact page where I read “President Obama is committed to creating the most open and accessible administration in American history.” I’m generally too cynical to put stock in such statements, but compared to the previous White House website, this site is already taking huge steps toward being open and accessible.
Senator Obama showed the incredible power of new media marketing during his campaign, and it appears that President Obama will continue to leverage that power as he governs this nation. I will be following the evolution of the White House website in order to see if its promise of social connection is truly realized. I’m sure it will take a few months to get everything together, but make sure to check back in for my update of the reality of this new website.