In my American History class back in high school I remember hearing that “Kennedy was the television President,” and I remember watching footage of the first televised presidential debate between Kennedy and Nixon. To a classroom filled with teenagers of the so-called MTV Generation, it was painfully clear which candidate was at ease with the new medium and which one was not. In fact, Kennedy was more than just at ease with the medium, he embraced it, he made it work for him.
I have absolutely no doubt that my children (hypothetical in this case…I don’t have kids yet) will learn that Barrack Obama was “the internet President.” Like Kennedy was with television, Obama is with the web. The internet is the defining communications medium of our time, and the skill with which President Obama has embraced it absolutely dwarfs that of any other politician I am aware of.
I have developed a fascination with our new Commander-in-Chief’s use of the digital realm. Last week, I wrote about the White House website rollover, and since then I have been closely following new White House presences online. One of my favorite finds is the White House YouTube channel, where the masses can have instance access to President Obama’s weekly video address, and a slew of other content like Vice President Biden’s new video. For anyone who’s interested, the TubeMogul blog has some cool demographic stats on the White House channel.
Evidently the Obama Administration isn’t stopping its video distribution strategy with just YouTube. Social Media Playground pointed out that the White House also has a channel on Vimeo. Now the White House just needs to get a Twitter account and they’ll be running on all Web 2.0 cylinders. (Note: the twitter account @thewhitehouse is not official.)
I suppose the real question here is what all this social media will amount to. We already know that the Obama Campaign all but revolutionized use of the internet for campaign fund raising, but it is far too early to know whether the Obama Administration can that tech savvy to revolutionize governing. It seems to me that in a democracy “of the people, by the people, and for the people” any system whereby there is a more immediate connection between the electorate and elected officials is a positive thing. Will President Obama’s White House 2.0 be that conduit of the democratic promise? In this question each and every one of us has a say. We, as citizens, must choose to use these new information channels for them to amount to anything. If President Obama is leading the charge towards a more connected democracy, success will only be reached if we follow.