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Obama's Online Example is Setting Feds Free

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, May 8 2009

Time's Michael Scherer has a good piece on how the White House is taking to Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and the like that is worth a read (though I dare say that there won't be too much new in the article if you read our stuff with the appropriate religiousness). But Scherer captures a great quote that validates something we've said here a few times but can get missed in some of the coverage of the topic: What's potentially most powerful about the Obama Administration's puttering around on the Internet is the freedom it gives innovative folks in government to experiment with the same. If you're a government employee, it's a bit easier to justify spending taxpayer-paid time experimenting with Twitter if you can't point to the fact that that fellow in the White House is doing the same. Don't underestimate the impact. If you're a junior legislative assistant or online communications staffer, being able to say, "well, President Obama's doing it" is some very useful cover:

"The whole pondering process -- Should we do it? Should we not do it? -- has been truncated because the White House is doing it," says Theresa Nasif, director of the Federal Citizen Information Center, which helps coordinate Web outreach. "It's very exciting to be in government."

(A random note for government trivia geeks: The "Federal Citizen Information Center" referenced is much better known as Pueblo, Colorado -- as in, GSA outpost that TV advertisements and PSAs have been telling you send away to for government documents and the like all these years. More at Pueblo.GSA.gov.)