Sunday, November 09, 2008

Obama puts the Web to work

Lots of commentators have been writing about Oabama's use of technology in the campaign. What has received less attention so far is the use of technology to create of a whole policy infrastructure to help govern.

This is similar to a two week project that the MIT AI lab ran for Al Gore's 'Reinventing Government' project. The Open Meeting was the fore-runner of modern blog technology.

But there are two major differences. First, the Internet/Web is a ubiquitous infrastructure in 2008, in 1993 it was not. Only a few federal employees were able to participate in the Open Meeting because only some of them had Internet access. Second, and rather more important, the technology is now so deeply integrated into the infrastructure that it can pass without mention.

Obama is not the first President who had a transition team working on policy for the first hundred days. Practically every President does something along these lines. The exception being Bush II who was busier getting the SCOTUS to stop Florida counting the votes in the election.

What is different here is the scope. Previous Presidents simply could not have attempted anything like the policy outreach that Obama has. This is not simply a few hundred people working on the big ticket top level items, it is a vast effort involving tens of thousands of subject matter experts.

This is going to mean a substantial difference in the appointments process. Most administrations come into office with a list of appointments to be made that is considerably longer than their list of qualified supporters willing to take a government post. This administration is going to come in with the opposite problem, which is a good problem to have.

1 comment:

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