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Daily Digest: Leaping from Savvy Challenger to Wired President

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, November 11 2008

  • Making New Friends in Washington: Slate's Farhad Manjoo explores Barack Obama's transition from a hyper-networked candidate to a 21st century president from whom, now, much is expected. Campaign finance strictures mean that Obama can't take simply take MyBarackObama.com with him to the White House. What he can do, though, is attempt to recreate the campaign's social-networking magic on WhiteHouse.gov. But rallying behind a presidential hopeful online has a well-marked end zone. Governing is, well, a frightful mess. Obama supporters like Will.i.am and Scarlett Johansson "might have a tougher time coming up with a catchy ditty in support of expanding the mortgage interest tax credit," jokes Manjoo. It's a great piece, and well worth a read.

  • The List, That Massive List: The Nation's Ari Melber keenly notes that a recent Washington Post story slipped in the unattributed bombshell that the Obama campaign's email list topped out at some 10 million members -- so valuable, the Post's Shailagh Murray and Matthew Mosk noted, that the campaign "briefly offered it as collateral." So how did the best kept secret in Washington make it to print? After Election Day, says Ari, the list's enormity went from stealth campaign asset to a welcome sign of Obama's political power. The list Obama has amassed might, though, prove to be both governing base and Big Brother. If this summer's fight over FISA was any indication, says Ari, that network might provide "the most visible check on a President at the helm of one-party government."

  • Trippi Was Right: Back in September, Joe Trippi told CIO Insight's Ed Cone that a good ground game could be worth 2% to 3% of the vote to a candidate come Election Day. At the time, I (Nancy Scola) called that estimate "more art than science." Now, Ed notes, FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver has run the numbers on voter contact rates versus turnout and found that, well, that Trippi's prediction was spot on. Excuse me, Dr. Trippi, election scientist...

  • Strange Bedfellows Both Love the 'Net: Clinton White House veteran Mike McCurry and Republican strategist Mark McKinnon have teamed up for an op-ed on Real Clear Politics that makes the case that the Internet is...wait for it...transforming politics. Mike and Mark: "The 2008 campaign shows the Internet can bolster democracy by fostering a two-way dialogue between candidates and citizens and, potentially, by mobilizing the country behind common goals."

  • Obama's "Special Interests": CNN's Alina Cho covered the launch of Change.gov. Worth highlighting is the take of our Andrew Rasiej about the meaning of Obama's wired network of online supporters: "He now has his own special interest. He has a group of people he can go to and ask them to participate in helping him pass his legislative agenda."

  • A Blogger on the Transition Team: The organization known as the Obama-Biden Transition Project (I just love that name -- so very '70s experimental band, no?) has brought on someone perhaps best known in these parts as a blogger, Open Left's Mike Lux. Mike has a long DC resume, though, having put in time in the Clinton White House and later opening up Progressive Strategies, a consulting shop. Mike, the Huffington Post reports, will be serving as a "progressive liaison" and otherwise staffing the transition.

  • Broadband on the Brain: The Internet for Everyone coalition is kicking off a national town hall series with one in Los Angeles on December 6th. The big idea? To put improving our national broadband situation at the tippy top of the White House and Congress's agendas in 2009. The coalition is striking while everyone is still logged into this election, with talk about how technology has reinvigorated democracy on the tip of the nation's collective tongue.

  • Inaugurating the Inaugural Petition: The solutions-oriented hub Worldchanging has launched a petition to get President Obama to make a high-profiled pledge to turn America "climate-neutral" by 2030. The ask? That the 44th president include the commitment in his very first inaugural address. But are online petitions soooo 2004, as Jon Pincus has argued over on Open Left? A clever commenter on Worldchanging suggests one way to make the petition more network-savvy: sign not with your name, but with a link to LinkedIn or some other online social representation of yourself. (Disclosure: I'm a contributing writer at Worldchanging.)

In Case You Missed It...

Saying that "the devil is always in the details," Former Blue State Digital strategist Kevin Thurman lays out a road map for how Democrats and Obama can make the best use of the three big web assets at their disposal: WhiteHouse.gov, BarackObama.com, and Democrats.org.

In the first part of his series "From Campaigns to Governance," Gene Koo looks at how the Obama administration can boost civic engagement by helping to build a robust infrastructure for volunteerism. As Gene notes, many Americans are filled to the brim with an eagerness to create change, and they need an outlet that isn't the full-time activism in the Americorps model.

From its platform agnosticism to advances in local cause-based activism, "CauseWired" author Tom Watson says the Obama win has a lot to teach the social sector.

Nancy Scola says Change.gov's now sparse blog finds itself among Beltway bloggers worth emulating, from AIDS.gov's mashup-happy blog to the NASA CTO's considered musings on cloud computing. Nancy also calls New York Governor David Paterson's new online budget calculator "a case study in pretend participation."

Saying that President Bush's radio addresses "don't serve governance" if no one listens to them, Raven Brooks and proposes that President Obama disseminate video addresses through social networks and respond back to the comments they generate. Note the healthy discussion in the comments; Bill Clinton pioneered "website chats," notes Jon Garfunkel, who suggests that YouTube comments to a scripted presidential address isn't exactly wide-open governance.

(And while we're talking comments, dip into those on yesterday's digest for some thinking about how the "open" Obama campaign was really a "closed-source" and centralized affair.)