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White House Turns to Twitter to Tap the Next Big Thing

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, April 13 2010

Twitter.com

Human on the moon? Check. Sequencing the genome? Check. The Obama White House is looking for something new to inspire it to throw America's hat over the fence and go get it. And so, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the National Economic Council are running a program they're calling Grand Challenges of the 21st Century, aimed at extracting the wisdom of the public on where government investment and leadership on science, technology, and innovation should go from here.

The big news today is that the White House has opened up a new way of collecting the best and brightest "grand challenge" ideas from the American people: Twitter. If that sounds familiar, that's because this is part of the project that Experts Labs director Anil Dash described in depth in our interview with him two weeks ago. Here's OSTP Deputy Director for Policy Thomas Kalil writing earlier today on the White House blog about the project's launch:

I'm delighted that Expert Labs, a project of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, has developed some great tools to help the government (and anyone else, for that matter) capture the ideas and insights of participants in social networks. For example, you can send your idea via twitter by replying to @whitehouse and including the #whgc hashtag (a tip: check out other ideas with this search).

Among the ideas already coming in: "I think the US should be looking at manned missions to Mars, personally. We've been to the moon already." "Improved and low cost biometrics for managing subscribed electronic content. Make IP rec and logins a thing of the past!" And, "Teach the children to tinker. Exploring, curious minds will solve the problems listed here, and thousands more."

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