Obama – I’ve Started…so I’ll Finish?

4 03 2009

In the last 24 hours Barack Obama’s Twitter has been ousted from the number one spot.  His 352,531 followers have been eclipsed by CNN’s breaking news feed @cnnbrk.  The reason is quite simple, since winning the presidential election the feed has had just two updates, and neither were posted by the president himself.

During the election campaign many of Obama’s tweets were in the first person, possibly posted by him on the ubiquitous campaign Blackberry.  It has presumably been decided that it is un-presidential to tweet.

What does this mean for the administration that pioneered engagement through social media as a key part of an election campaign? There is the new ObamaNews feed but it isn’t personal so it’s not really in keeping with the medium and it has just 24,000 followers at present, less than that of the average self respecting stand up comedian.  

In four years Obama will have to go to the people again. Will it be credible if he starts to engage once more at the point that he is looking for the popular vote, or will he leave that to his opponent? (It may be too late for McCain but he has added 50,000 Twitter followers in the last week). This is a serious question; is engagement with the people something that is just to be done during elections or does the social web mean that politicians can and more importantly should engage directly with their electorate whilst they are in office.  A tweet or two a week wouldn’t be too onerous even for the leader of the free world.





Obama and the Social Web #2

20 01 2009

The inauguration of Barack Obabma is a historical defining moment for democracy.  The anticipation of the inauguration was described as being like Christmas Eve and was celebrated in every way from commemorative crockery to the new Ben & Jerry’s ‘Yes Pecan’ ice cream flavour.

It’s place in history goes beyond race and background. Obama is the first democratically elected leader to embrace the social web.   After a few quiet weeks his much talked about twitter stream went live again on Martin Luther King Day, the eve of the presidential inauguration.  Obama understood that the ability of the ordinary person to use the Internet, has and will have a significant effect on the relationship between  between the politician and the body politic.   Oh Boy Obama, was an unofficial site produced by his supporters described as an “online think tank” where people voted on policy ideas that they believed Barack Obama should adopt as part of his campaign.   Oh Boy Obama was a Digg style site that showed how political ideas could be tested against real grass roots opinion with those most likely to succeed in winning popular support rising to the top.

There is a great deal of hope riding on this new president.  If he pursues his relationship with the social web he could help to redefine what we mean and understand by democracy.  That would be history in the making.








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