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The Mobilization of the White House

BY Nancy Scola | Friday, April 2 2010

As in, a version of WhiteHouse.gov custom made to display on your BlackBerry, iPhone, Nexus One, or whatever might be your mobile phone of choice. Like other cell-phone friendly versions of sites on the web, WhiteHouse.gov simply automatically redirects to a stripped-down version of the site -- m.whitehouse.gov -- when you navigate to the White House from a mobile browser. The mobile version of WhiteHouse.gov boils down the site its essence, with minimal text and selected images that allow you to easily scroll through what's on offer, from the White House blog to details on the most recent legislation signed by the President.

And WhiteHouse.gov is like other optimized cell-phone ready sites out there on the Internet, at least the very good ones -- which is really the important news here. Later today, will have an interview with web veteran Anil Dash, whom you might know from his work with the blogging company Six Apart or his culture blog, Dashes.com. Dash is now heading up a project to connect the community of experts that is the web with the federal government. Stay tuned for that interview to learn more. [Update -- Here's that interview.] But Dash gave a nod to the White House's iPhone app and pointed out, with a good dose of admiration, that the Obama White House is using HTML5 on its White House video platform. "These are things some of the biggest media companies in the world haven't been able to do yet," said Dash.

Whether or not you might ever have the need or desire to scan the White House website while waiting on line at the deli, the fact remains that you can. That's because the White House has made a point of being not just five or 10 years behind the rest of the world when it comes to its public-facing technology, but actually at the front edge of innovation. White House new media director Macon Phillips points out on the White House blog that its embrace of the latest web standards earned WhiteHouse.gov a featured spot in Apple's new gallery of a dozen "iPad-ready" sites, alongside such forward-looking entities as the New York Times and TED.