You’ve got mail, Mr. President!

The Whitehouse has just posted a blog entry with a video showing how the President receives his mail every morning. Mr. Obama states that these letters keep him in touch with what is going on in the country and he responds personally with a handwritten letter. The video shows that the Whitehouse receives about 100,000 emails a week, 6,500 paper letters/week, ~1,000 faxes per day, ~2,500-3,500 calls/day.

Adding all the press coverage, Twitter messages, blog posts produced on social networking services every day that in one way or another touch the subjects the President is dealing with, we need to develop tools to efficiently digest and extract the most important themes.

Moreover, I see a few unsolved issues of information overload, vetting the information that is produced through all those channels and the process of intelligent ranking and selection of important issues. How can we verify that the information produced is true and represents the actual “trending” topics – to use a Twitter analogy. Artificial intelligence might be one answer to support the filtering process and grouping of similar topics, but the additional reality check is critical and can only be done with human intelligence.

See also the Whitehouse Blog entry and the responding @whitehouse message on Twitter.

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About Ines Mergel

I am Full Professor of Public Administration at the Department of Politics and Public Administration at University of Konstanz, Germany. Previously, I served as Assistant and then Associate Professor (with tenure) at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University, NY. In my research, I focus on informal social networks in the public sector and the adoption and diffusion of digital service innovations in government organizations. I teach classes on social media management, digital government, public management, and social network analysis.

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