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The White House's Social Graph

BY Nancy Scola | Thursday, November 5 2009

An interesting little outgrowth of the White House's preliminary data release last week of the visitor logs on who came knocking at the White House: the public emergence of, to borrow a term from Facebook, what we might call the White House's "social graph." The Obama White House has committed to uploading the Executive Office of the President's visitor records every 90 days from here on out. Those online public posts, which make up the raw material of the White House's network, looks ready to become something people learn to negotiate -- casually musing over it in public and worrying about their standing in while in private. Kinda like Twitter.

Exhibit A: After Andy Stern, president of the SEIU, drew attention for having visited the White House more than twenty times over the first few months of the Obama presidency, including seven visits with Barack Obama himself and others with senior White House staff. While it's not an awful thing for a union leader to see himself painted as a White House insider, his "friends" in the White House might not love that particular kind of attention. Some social negotiation was in order. The SEIU thus took to their blog to frame why the Obama White House so often welcomed their boss. "Coming off an eight-year period when the voice of workers fell on deaf ears," blogged the SEIU new media team, "the list demonstrates the White House desire to hear from working people." (Photo credit: Lisa DeJong)