PA Times article on the use of social media during the 2012 election

I wrote up a short piece about the impact of social media in the 2012 election. It will come out in print this month and I wanted to share it here as well.


Presidential Memo: Managing online records beyond paper and filing cabinets

Today, President Obama published a new presidential memo building on the efforts of the Open Government Directive he encourages departments and agencies to save money by providing government records in digital format – instead of “paper and filing cabinets”.

From the White House blog:

The new effort calls for reports, by each agency head, describing their current plans for improving records management programs; outlining current obstacles to sound, cost-effective records management policies;and cataloging potential reforms and improvements. The agency reports will inform, and be followed, by a Records Management Directive, to be issued by the Director of OMB and the National Archivist. The Directive will focus on maintaining accountability to the American public through documenting agency actions; increasing efficiency (and thus reducing costs); and switching, where feasible, from paper-based records to electronic records. In addition, all statutes, regulations, and policies must be reviewed to improve government-wide practices in records management.

Full memorandum is available here and on Scribd via Fedscoop:

Obama’s agenda is back up… technology still one of the top issues

I just found out through Twitter that Obama’s agenda is back on Technology is still among his top issues (phew…). Some of the important issues are:

  • Protect the Openness of the Internet
  • Encourage Diversity in Media Ownership
  • Protect Our Children While Preserving the First Amendment
  • Safeguard our Right to Privacy

And when it comes to government:

“Create a transparent and connected democracy”

  • Open Up Government to its Citizens: Use cutting-edge technologies to create a new level of transparency, accountability, and participation for America’s citizens.
  • Bring Government into the 21st Century: Use technology to reform government and improve the exchange of information between the federal government and citizens while ensuring the security of our networks. Appoint the nation’s first Chief Technology Officer (CTO) to ensure the safety of our networks and lead an interagency effort, working with chief technology and chief information officers of each of the federal agencies, to ensure that they use best-in-class technologies and share best practices.

Presidential Blog:

Right after election day, Barack Obama has started the first presidential blog on

Depending on how his team has to adapt their Internet strategy , this will have tremendous impact on transparency and accountability in government. His Web 2.0 teams might decide at some point, that it is better to take down some of the blog posts – as opinions are changing or opposing events/decisions occur.

In our “Connecting to Congress” NSF project we found that Members of Congress for example take down their press releases after 10 days. Blogs are a different technology and won’t make it easy to “change” information: other than the content of static websites, blogs are syndicated and posts are distributed to potentially millions of readers (and I would like to predict that is what will happen with this presidential blog).

One characteristic of Obama’s blog is that it doesn’t allow true bi-directional interaction with his readers: the commenting function is omitted. I have seen that on several federal blogs before – one prominent example is the Blog of the Department of the Navy Chief Information Officer (Comments are scanned before they are released – at the moment 0 comments).