Tag Archives | Barack Obama

Whitehouse.gov Gets a Makeover

At 12:01pm, the official website of the White House changed hands, and with it came quite a sea change as far as the openness of the executive branch. The website has a definite Web 2.0 feel to it — from the blogs, to the dynamic headers and whatnot.

But what’s really exciting to me is the transparency. All of Obama’s executive orders and proclamations will be posted on the site for all to see. The president’s agenda is also laid out on the website, and the Administration is soliciting readers to join the mailing list to stay abreast of current government happenings.

This is really smart. Keeping the citizenry up-to-date on your actions, as well as inviting them in, will go a long way in getting what you want done. Too often lately in politics, things are done in the so-called “smoke-filled room,” with little input from the people they are supposed to represent.

Ever wanted to have the President’s ear on a specific bill? You will. Non-emergency legislation will have a seven-day comment period before Obama decides to sign it: those will also be posted on whitehouse.gov.

The Adminstration says it has more in the works, but I’m certainly excited about what I’ve seen so far.

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Ladies and Gentlemen, the Presidents of the United States

Presidential SealOn Tuesday, Barack Obama will make history when he’s sworn in as the forty-fourth president of the United States of America. Let’s pause to reflect on how how we got here: Here are the president-elect and his forty-three predecessors (counting Grover Cleveland as two presidents, of course). Click on any or all of ’em, and you’ll go to relevant sites around the Web. (I tried to be nonpartisan; many of them are the appropriate presidential libraries.)

And if you’re less interested in presidencies past and more interested in the one that’s about to start, check out my friend and former colleague Mark Sullivan’s guide to following the inauguration on the Web over at PCWorld.com.



Julius Genachowski to Chair FCC

Reports indicate President-elect Obama is set to tap Juilus Genachowski to head the Federal Communications Commision. Genachowski has experience with the agency: he served as general counsel to former chair Reed Hunt, who served during the Clinton Administration.

Obama and Genachowski are close associates. He was the President-elect’s chief technology counsel and they were classmates at Harvard Law School. Obama likely picked him due to his previous experience in technology, as he has served in an executive capacity at IAC.

Interest groups like Free Press seem to be happy with Obama’s selection.

“Under Julius Genachowski’s leadership, the FCC’s compass would point toward the public interest,” the organization’s executive director Josh Silver said. “The challenges facing the next FCC are enormous — a vast digital divide, an open Internet in jeopardy, consolidated media ownership, newsrooms in economic freefall and entrenched industries invested in maintaining the status quo.”


Obama Fighting the Anti-BlackBerry Forces

President-elect Obama is still fighting to keep his BlackBerry, the addictive electronic device that has helped him keep in constant contact with friends and advisers from his Senatorial days right through the campaign, the New York Times’ Jeff Zeleny reports. Saying “they’re going to have to pry it out of my hands,” Obama is arguing that it would keep him up-to-date on what is going on outside of the presidential bubble. I’ve argued previously here that I think Mr. Obama should keep his BlackBerry, and its worth repeating. Here’s hoping that our 44th president wins this battle…


Sorry, Mr. President Elect: Twitter Gets Hacked

Twitter logoMalicious users gained access to Twitter’s account support tools by exploiting an undisclosed security vulnerability and hacked into 33 high profile accounts, including those belonging to Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly, U.S. President Elect Barack Obama, and CNN anchor Rick Sanchez. The intrusions caused no real harm, but Twitter’s status as a soapbox for public figures obligates it to be more responsible going forward.

Twitter acknowledged the exploits on its blog, which it considered to have been a “very serious breach of security.” It took the tools offline and froze the affect accounts when it was alerted to the problem. The Twitter team speculated that the breach may have been prevented had it been using the open authentication protocol (OAuth), a protocol to allow secure API authorization from Web applications.

The hacker (or hackers) used the President Elect’s account (which had been inactive since election day) to plug a gas card offer, made O’Reilly a more interesting individual, and changed Sanchez’s status to, “high on crack and might not be coming into work today.” Screen grabs of the exploits have been posted by TechCrunch.

No real harm was done, but the hackers’ puerile statements could have caused a real kerfuffle. Had Barack Obama already been swore in as President, an inappropriate statement could have inflamed political tinderboxes around the world. Indeed, Officials of other governments have been using Twitter for official statements.

The Israeli Consulate has been using Twitter to explain its justification for its recent military action; the wrong statement could have made an already acute political and humanitarian situation worse. It may be time for public officials and governments to reconsider their participation in social media unless there has been some form of a security audit. Twitter should take the responsibilities that come with being an impactful channel for disseminating information seriously.

The TV station across the street from me has a security guard and uses access cards at the door for a reason. The same standard should apply to new media.

In an indication that Twitter has become hackers’ target de jour, the intrusions come on the heels of a major phishing campaign that took place over the weekend. An untold number of Twitter users were lured into giving up their passwords for the promise of an iPhone.


Shocker: Obama May Cut NASA Shuttle Replacement

nasalogoI know this is a bit outside of Technologizer’s typical coverage area but it is interesting nonetheless. There has been some reports of bad feelings between the President-Elect and NASA, and we may be finding out why. Obama may be considering ending the Ares rocket program, intended to be the replacement for the space shuttle.

According to UK daily The Telegraph, Obama’s transition team has hammered the space agency on its budget issues. Over half of the 74 queries sent to NASA dealt with this topic, sources indicate.

This could mean potentially for the first time in over 40 years the agency may have no method to send astronauts into space. At the same time, the Ares program has been plagued by mismanagement and budget overruns, and in this time of cutbacks everywhere that certainly is not a good thing.

Obama has sent mixed messages on manned spaceflight. His earlier campaign comments seemed to suggest he was in favor of some type of delay in the program altogether, however this softened considerably as Florida became an important state.

NASA has  said that it wants to put humans back on the moon by 2020, which is preparation for a permanent lunar base and manned mission to Mars a decade or so later. However if Ares is scrapped, that could put that timeline in jeopardy.

In any case, it will not be more of the same at the agency. “There will be changes,” Obama NASA liason and former adminstrator Lori Garver has said.


President-Elect Obama, You Need that BlackBerry

I just saw a piece by Jonathan Alter on Newsweek that responds to the talk surrounding Obama’s BlackBerry use: that it poses a security risk and he will be forced to surrender it upon inauguration. Alter argues that in order for Obama to be successful in the presidency, he will need to remain connected to the outside world — not just his cadre of advisers, officials and the like.

This is beneficial because sometimes Washington becomes an echo chamber of sorts. Sometimes, the people with the best view of things are outside the Beltway, and the president needs to hear these people. Wouldn’t succumbing to the Washington way of thought and blocking out the outside world come at an antithesis to what Obama’s preached his entire campaign?

Stephen Wildstrom at BusinessWeek has also opined in support of Obama keeping his gadget rights, adding that BlackBerry traffic is “encrypted to standards that meet Federal Information Procession Standards for sensitive but unclassified information.” He also says that the president-elect should already know how to handle classified and sensitive material, so he likely wouldn’t be thumb-tapping out senstive stuff on his BlackBerry anyway.

I see additional reasons why Mr. Obama should be able to keep his device. With the country moving into such an uncertain period, having some type of instantaneous communications with his staff and cabinet. Being able to make quicker decisions is something that I think would be very beneficial.

Yes, I can understand the security concerns. But come on, this is the 21st Century. A leader these days should be able to use the technologies around him if its going to make him (or her) a more effective leader.

What do you think?


Obama Campaign Launches iPhone App

While the Obama campaign has been pretty innovative in its uses of technology, this latest move takes the cake in my opinion. The official iPhone application debuted on Thursday, which is yet another method for the campaign to stay closely connected to its supporters.

The primary feature here seems to be the call a friend functionality. Contacts, taken from the iPhone address book, are sorted by state with the most competitive listed first. For example, my contacts from Virginia, Ohio, Florida, Indiana, and Pennsylvania were listed at the top, while those in Delaware, Hawaii, and New York were listed at the bottom.

No personal data is shared with the campaign — only anonymous call data — and the application will also allow users to keep track of whom they called and their intentions.

The iPhone’s GPS functionality is put to use: users would be able to find a local campaign office in relation to their current location, as well as events in the area. Links to news, video and photos from the trail are also included, as well as talking points on Obama’s positions when talking about the candidate to friends.

An official webpage is available on the Obama website, and it is available through the App Store. Those who don’t have an iPhone should not fret — the WAP page for the campaign offers some of the same features.

I think this application is a great idea. Obama supporters have shown that they are (generally) a more technically sophisticated bunch, using the Internet a great deal to organize, raise money, and disseminate information on the candidate.

What of course remains to be seen is how responsive supporters are to this latest attempt at keeping its supporters involved. The application has apparently only been live on the iTunes App Store since this morning, so its a little early yet to judge.