Democracy 2.0

There’s been a lot going on the last couple of weeks, and I heard that there was some sort of big voting thing last week (but I thought American Idol started in January…).

I came across this CNN article today that was impressive. It’s about Barack Obama’s new up-and-running website, change.gov. While that in and of itself is pretty cool, some of the other things outlined in the CNN article are nothing short of revolutionary. A quick recap:

  • The article summarizes the enormous impact the web, specifically Web 2.0, had on Obama’s campaign and, in all likelihood, his election. From Facebook and MySpace to Twitter and text messages, Obama’s use of technology and the social web were revolutionary.
  • This quote is unreal: “People who follow Obama online have become a community that the president-elect can tap into, said Andrew Raseij, founder of TechPresident.com, a Web site that tracked the online operations of the 2008 presidential campaigns. ‘He now has his own special interest. He has a group of people he can go to and ask them to participate in helping him pass his legislative agenda,’ Raseij said.”
    In other words, he has an online professional learning community (PLC). Sweet…
  • The same guy predicts that this presidency will revolutionize how the president communicates with the public: “I wouldn’t be surprised if Barack Obama starts doing a weekly YouTube video and also fireside chats for the 21st century by allowing people to filter up questions to him that he might answer.”
    How cool would that be? To get updates on YouTube? To ask the president a question? Whoa nelly…
  • But perhaps the most significant point of the article (in my humble opinion) is this: “The president-elect already has said he’ll have a five-day online comment period before signing any nonemergency legislation, so Americans can be part of the process.”

So the new president not only revolutionized how campaigns will be run, but is also aiming to revolutionize the way democracy itself is run. Is it safe to say that Web 2.0 – the interactive, read-write, social networking, at-your-fingertips web – is more than just a silly fad?

Regardless of what you think about the man himself (or his party), I think we cannot help but applaud this sort of forward-thinking that Obama and his crew have been doing. It strikes me as both unbelievable and awe-inspiring that you and I actually have input in the decisions that will be made during this presidency (apart from electing representatives to make those decisions, that is). Even if this ends up being nothing more than hot air, the concept seems valid – political offices could use Web 2.0 (and the millions of people using it) to inform key political decisions.

I just wonder if he’ll be taking those comments on Facebook…

ADDENDUM: I love the quote at the top of change.gov – it sounds a lot like what my high school football coach always told us: He would ask: “How do we leave this place?” We replied: “Better than we found it.”

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One response to “Democracy 2.0

  • Beth Holmes

    Hi, Kevin,

    I enjoyed this post and agree that the President-elect is a master web communicator. If education has ever had a chance to be fully funded for educational technology, infrastructure, technology professional development, and technical support – it is now. Surely, this President-elect can/will catch our vision…

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