January 19 2009 / by Jeff Hilford
Category: Government Year: 2009 Rating: 7 Hot
One of the most exciting things about the promise of the Obama administration is their commitment to employing interactive communication technologies in an effort to better their stewardship of the country.
It was the utilization of these tools that spurred him to victory in a daunting primary process and pushed him to a convincing win in the general election. At a simple level, what he really did was engage anyone he could in conversation. That is the hallmark principle of web 2.0 and also of a good politician. I think this concept is at the center of why people (a whopping 79% approve of his handling of the transition) are so optimistic about what type of leader he may be. While it's true that we are in the midst of very difficult times and that will prod more folks into being open to and hopeful that Obama may lead us out of here, I think it is his continued commitment to conversation and engagement that offers the most potential upside.
When you get 79% of the people behind you you're getting a big chunk of those that didn't vote for you. How? By engaging them in the conversation, in the process. On the campaign trail the Obama team relied heavily on the blogosphere and text-messaging as ways of bringing people together and rallying them to the cause. He has continued to do that by letting people help him set the agenda for the next four years which he is doing in both the new way and the old-fashioned one.
From a technology standpoint, the Obama team has created a website that lets people know what's going on in the transition and also submit and vote on what they think are the most pressing issues that we face and need to be addressed. He will appoint the first CTO in our country's history, has put a big focus on clean energy and internet issues and it looks like he will be able to keep his Blackberry after all.
He has also promoted face to face conversation with both allies and detractors. One night he has a powwow with conservative journalists and the next day the progressives. One day he brings Republican politicians in and the next the Democrats. He hasn't even been sworn in yet, but his actions have spoken loudly thus far. He will do what a great politician (and they are rare) does and include everybody in the conversation.
History has demonstrated time and time again that politicians way over-promise and under-deliver and we've been burnt enough times in the past to cast a jaundiced eye in their direction. But maybe this time will be different as Obama's seemingly steadfast commitment to discourse and to using the modern tools of engagement offer much hope at a time when it is sorely needed.