It’s not yet 48 hours since Barack Obama was projected the President-elect of the United States, and his transition team has launched the homepage of his Change movement, change.gov. What will he do with it? We can be sure that it won’t merely be used as a static repository of news releases and policy platforms. His campaign revolutionized the way a Presidential candidate interacted with his supporters through the Internet and it certainly won’t stop now.
However, his new media team will certainly encounter antiquated hurdles set up years ago to regulate government use of the Internet. Will White House servers stand up to the traffic load? They’ve had a rocky start so far. Will broadcasting Presidential communications over third-party systems like YouTube and UStream be permitted? Congressional offices are still prohibited from using YouTube on their official websites, even though few follow this rule. How will the National Archives and Records Administration handle the countless new ways of communicating his message? It’s not a matter of filing memos and official documents into cabinets anymore, as we learned quickly with the Bush administration.
Change.gov, looking very similar to barackobama.com, may not have much going on at the moment, but it absolutely sets the tone by first asking for stories from its visitors. It says a lot that the very first function of the site is to listen to American stories of the election and what it means for them.
It is clear me that despite the hurdles and challenges of transitioning an online campaign from the limitless bounds of private operation to the often musty and choked corridors of government bureaucracy, that his administration will stop at nothing to engage the populace in their government in ways we’ve never before seen. There’s so much more to come.