Thursday New Tools Feature: e-Pluribus Unum

In a previous New Tools feature, I discussed the launch of Web sites like WhiteHouse2.org, and wondered whether an Obama administration would be open to using tools like this to amplify the public's voice and increase its role in governing.

That very much remains to be seen, but President-Elect Obama's background in community organizing, his groundbreaking use of the Internet during the campaign, and the launch of his new site, change.gov, seem to bode well for the possibility of a more open-source style presidency (although I hope change.gov evolves to become much more interactive and participatory than it is at the moment). Of course, Obama was elected to lead, and in order to be effective leader he will ultimately have to make his own judgments and decisions. But the more voices and opinions he hears in the course of his deliberations, the better.

If he chooses to do so, Obama can certainly use technology to give people a greater voice in government. But he can also use it to spread his message and to build support for his initiatives. Simon predicts that Obama will do with the Internet what FDR did with radio and what JFK did for television, using the web to reach people in new ways. He envisions a weekly YouTube address that could be instantly viewed by millions of people around the country and the world. This kind of direct reach would be an incredibly powerful tool in advancing the administration's agenda.

In the past few weeks, we at NDN have talked a lot about the ways an Obama administration is likely to use technology to govern: in addition to the aforementioned New Tools post, Simon and Joe Trippi discussed this at our NDN election forum, and Simon did a great video blog about it, entitled "Obama to Reinvent the Presidency."

NDN's thinking in this area has also been featured in a host of press stories in recent days: Simon was interviewed in an Associated Press video segment today that asked, "How much will President Obama embrace Internet?" and has also been quoted in Wired, the National Journal's Tech Daily Dose, the Washington Times, the San Jose Mercury News, Agence France Press, the Houston Chronicle, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, TCMNet, Business Intelligence Middle East, and Real Clear Politics on the topic. 

Friday morning UPDATE: Jose Antonio Vargas of the Washington Post reports this morning that

Today, President-elect Obama will record the weekly Democratic address not just on radio but also on video -- a first. The address, typically four minutes long, will be turned into a YouTube video and posted on Obama's transition site, Change.gov, once the radio address is made public on Saturday morning."