• And we’re a go, people: Get ready for the world’s first study on human embryonic stem cell therapy.
• But first, bye bye absurd abortion laws!
• The Inauguration killed the Internets! No mere series of tubes can withstand the pressure of this seminal moment in history.
• “BarackBerry,” “ObamaBerry”—call it what you will, we still can’t get over the fact that he’s the first president ever to use e-mail while in office.
• An economist explains why all those hospital procedures cost what they do.
• The trees are dying! The trees are dying!
• OMG! We’re in the White House! Blogging, presidential style.
• No, Virginia, there’s no such thing as truly clean coal.
The tech world is literally (and virtually) beside itself over Obama’s announcement that he plans to appoint the first ever chief technology officer to oversee the full-fledged technologization (not actually a word, but it should be) of his administration. Today, Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales and entrepreneur Andrea Weckerle took to CNN to extol the president-elect’s decision and offer their advice for the fledgling CTO. Among their more interesting suggestions:
Ruthlessly modernize: Examine the technology used within the federal system and determine what is outdated, redundant and inadequate, then keep what works and expel what doesn’t. Examine procurement polices and demand they are in line with best practices. The results of this endeavor alone will save the federal government massive amounts of money…
Create openness of information: This will serve two important functions, namely allowing people to see what the government is doing, thus fostering accountability born of transparency, and also providing access to data that will inevitably inspire and support innovation and collaboration within the private sector. In this realm, the old adage from the free software movement of “release early, release often” is quite helpful…
Right now on Facebook, you can find around 20 Britney Spears’, at least 6 George Bushes, a Barack Obama (which is legit!) and a couple Elvises. But you won’t find a profile for Bharrat Jagdeo, the president of Guyana. Why not? Because after learning that an impersonator had created a profile claiming to be him, Jagdeo, the president of the South American nation since 1999, threw a veritable hissy fit, calling the Guyana police in to track down the page’s creator.
Considering that Jagdeo’s phony profile attracted around 170 supporters before it was pulled, and that the page contained no mocking comments, revealing personal information, or doctored photos (the tenets of celebrity impersonations on the Internet), Jagdeo might have even taken the impersonation as a compliment—imitation being the sincerest form of flattery and all.
But not so.
How does President-Elect Obama love technology? Let us count the ways. Among the features the incoming administration is adding to its much-anticipated technology ramp-up is a video version of the weekly Democratic address. From now on, the president-elect will record the address on video, then his staff will upload it to none other than YouTube, as well as Obama’s Web site (for the first video, go here).
And fear not, technophiles—there’s more. From the Washington Post:
In addition to regularly videotaping the radio address, officials at the transition office say the Obama White House will also conduct online Q&As and video interviews. The goal, officials say, is to put a face on government. In the following weeks, for example, senior members of the transition team, various policy experts and choices for the Cabinet, among others, will record videos for Change.gov.
Of course, not all of this techno-political bonanza is 100 percent original: The current administration’s Web site “offers RSS feeds, podcasts and videos of press briefings,” while the “site’s Ask the White House page has featured regular online chats dating back to 2003.” Granted, it’s pretty safe to assume online video clips of Bush didn’t garner quite the same enthusiasm.
RB: Obama Blogs? President-Elect Launches Web Site, Embraces Internet
RB: Politicians v. Technology: Obama, McCain Battle the Internet
RB: Obama Changes His View (Or, at Least, His Web Site) On Technology
If there’s one thing this election season has taught us, it’s that there’s no hiding in the Internet—and that includes politicians vying for the nation’s highest offices. For starters, of all the criticisms of McCain’s views, record, character, and policies, one of the stickiest so far has been his self-proclaimed inability to use the Web.
Then last week brought Yahoomail-gate, with the infamous hacker group Anonymous accessing VP hopeful Sarah Palin’s personal e-mail account, revealing to the world that she did indeed use her personal e-mail for official business, and that she liked to send and receive pictures of her kids. (Scandalous!) A quick and dirty FBI investigation soon indicated that the hacker may be none other than the son of Democratic Tennessee state representative Mike Kernell.
Equally diligent watchdogs also noticed some strange happenings over on Obama’s official campaign Web site—the prominence of which we’ve discussed before.
It’s no secret that, when it comes to Internet savvy, the two presidential candidates are about as different as BASIC and LINUX. And nowhere does their Web contrast play out more than in their respective campaigning. The Economist reports that in June, Obama raised $52 million in total, $31 million of which came from donations of $200 or less that were mostly generated by his Web site. He also has 1.3 million Facebook supporters to McCain’s 200,000, and also keeps regularly updated profiles on MySpace, LinkedIn, and other social networks.
And then there’s video. While YouTube has been embraced by just about everyone as a great way to spread viral campaign messages, Obama has his own video team on the payroll. So far, the group has shot more than 2,000 hours of footage and uploaded around 1,110 videos on his YouTube channel–more than four times the content on McCain’s channel. And all that work has paid off: The Illinois Senator’s videos have been viewed 52 million times to McCain’s 9.5 million.