e-governance: How the White House may evolve

The other day Taylor emailed me this article on how the internet, and the communities it enables, may reshape politics in America.

What really struck me however was the subtle but important differences in language between the incoming Obama administration and the outgoing Bush administration. The quotes below say it all: On one side you have advisers talking about the internet as a tool to enable transparency and engagement. The subtext, citizens become an extension of government – helping improve program delivery. On the other side you have someone talking about the internet as a broadcast tool, a way to “get the message out.” Here, citizens are separate from government and merely passive recipients of “a message” or data the white house wants it to see.

Check it:

Craig Newmark, founder of online classifieds site craigslist.com, served as a technology adviser to Obama and is an advocate for a more open and responsive government.

“In New York and San Francisco there are so-called ‘311’ programs,” he said. “The idea is that it’s customer service for local government and if you need a pothole fixed you contact 311.

“Well let’s start expanding 311 systems to all of government,” he said.

“There’s also the whole transparency thing,” Newmark added. “The Internet is all about transparency. The first phase is the election campaign then, afterwards, getting some real grass-roots democracy in there.”

David Almacy, who served as Internet and e-communications director for President George W. Bush, said the Internet is “a very powerful tool in communicating the president’s agenda.”

“The Internet is basically a 24-hour seven-day-a-week spokesperson,”
Almacy said. “While we’re sleeping at night it’s still available for those who are searching on energy legislation or the war on terror or the war in Iraq.”

2 thoughts on “e-governance: How the White House may evolve

  1. David Almacy

    Thanks for the post, David. Actually, my point was that campaigning online is far different from governing there. In a campaign, the goal is to build grassroots community and work toward one day to get people to the polls and vote. Governing is a much longer term approach with legislation sometimes taking years to get from idea to sponsor to committee to votes before finally arriving on the President's desk. Either way, messaging and communication is a crucial component in the shaping the public discourse and the tone of the debate. No one did that better than Sen. Obama in this campaign.Yes, the WH site was a communications tool for us, but we also used it reach out and connect with Americans by providing access to the President's events and Administration officials through our “Ask the White House” online chats. At the time, social media was still in it's infancy and E-Gov and privacy policies prevented us from fully engaging with the public on external sites (outside .gov and .mil) such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, MySpace, blogs, etc. Some of that has changed, but challenges still remain and it will be fascinating to see how the Obama Administration leverages the .gov medium.For example, much has been written about Obama's YouTube radio address yesterday on Change.gov. However, note that comments, ratings and response video options have been turned off. In addition, the Executive Office of the President is currently prohibited from publishing content in YouTube for a few reasons such as federal archive requirements, online ad endorsement violations and perceived favortism to Google/YouTube over other video sharing platforms.I am confident that many of these rules will be reviewed, revised or removed – as they should be. You can be sure that I will be following with great interest. Anxious to get your thoughts via my blog http://CapitalGig.com or on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/almacy (@almacy).Best,David

    Reply
  2. David Almacy

    Thanks for the post, David. Actually, my point was that campaigning online is far different from governing there. In a campaign, the goal is to build grassroots community and work toward one day to get people to the polls and vote. Governing is a much longer term approach with legislation sometimes taking years to get from idea to sponsor to committee to votes before finally arriving on the President's desk. Either way, messaging and communication is a crucial component in the shaping the public discourse and the tone of the debate. No one did that better than Sen. Obama in this campaign.Yes, the WH site was a communications tool for us, but we also used it reach out and connect with Americans by providing access to the President's events and Administration officials through our “Ask the White House” online chats. At the time, social media was still in it's infancy and E-Gov and privacy policies prevented us from fully engaging with the public on external sites (outside .gov and .mil) such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, MySpace, blogs, etc. Some of that has changed, but challenges still remain and it will be fascinating to see how the Obama Administration leverages the .gov medium.For example, much has been written about Obama's YouTube radio address yesterday on Change.gov. However, note that comments, ratings and response video options have been turned off. In addition, the Executive Office of the President is currently prohibited from publishing content in YouTube for a few reasons such as federal archive requirements, online ad endorsement violations and perceived favortism to Google/YouTube over other video sharing platforms.I am confident that many of these rules will be reviewed, revised or removed – as they should be. You can be sure that I will be following with great interest. Anxious to get your thoughts via my blog http://CapitalGig.com or on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/almacy (@almacy).Best,David

    Reply

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