From the start of his campaign, Barack Obama has distinguished himself as the articulate, tech-savvy candidate who utilized social networking to his advantage. As a direct result, he generated wide support from the online digerati, who collectively comment on the state of the union daily via social media outlets. Euphemistically described as the “wisdom of the crowds” it’s a common belief that there is a certain zeitgeist that emanates when millions of people are reacting to the same topic at the same time. Whether or not there is disagreement along the way, what ends up bubbling to the surface is a certain level of consensus.
Now, it appears that Obama is going to the source. In an unprecedented move, our Commander in Chief, who has been known to be an out-of-the box thinker, is turning to the CEO and co-founder of Twitter for advice on the economy. Yes, Mr. “Evan Williams goes to Washington” is Obama’s latest chess move in our financial game of woe. On March 6, 2009, Evan Williams and 20 other entrepreneurs met with the president.
However, judging from William’s White House tweet, the Twitter co-founder was perplexed by Obama’s invitation and was not quite sure what he could contribute when he arrived at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Twitter was founded by Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams. It began in March 2006 as a research and development project inside San Francisco’s podcasting company Odeo, and officially rolled out as Twitter in April, 2007. Twitter’s evolution and growth during that time span is comparable to Obama’s meteoric rise in popularity and historical electoral victory.
On February 27, 2009, Williams appeared at the Ted 2009 Conference in Long Beach California to discuss Twitter’s explosive growth.
Actually much of Twitter’s recent street cred can probably be attributed to its role as a new-age electioneering tool used by Barack Obama. Once Obama won and the news media started analyzing his success, Twitter and its world of microblogging experienced heightened media attention, and the twitterati started lining up in droves.
Marking Twitter as a mainstay in today’s culture, the microblogging phenomenon was legitimized when it was satirized by Jon Stewart on The Daily Show. In his typical mock-news banter he allowed one of his faux-correspondents to eviscerate this new trend as a self-indulgent obsession.
There are countless other examples of Twitter’s popularity going mainstream. The Chicago Tribune ran an article on Twitter’s increasing popularity among lawmakers in Congress.They noted that Louisiana Governor Jindal tweeted Oregon Democrat Earl Blumenauer during the recent Presidential Address to the nation.The website “OhMyGov.com” lists the Twitter addresses of a good number of our elected officials. On an MSNBC broadcast, even John McCain touted the benefits of tweeting daily and the opportunity it gave him to critique all the earmarks he found in the recent bailout bill.
As Williams told Charlie Rose on a recent broadcast, Twitter is still undecided about the best path to monetization, but what Twitter has embraced closely parallels the themes that surfaced during Obama’s campaign. Obama and Williams seem to have struck a similar chord when they talk about the ability to tap into man’s basic desire for communication and socialization. Transparency and authenticity were components that Obama reinforced as the essential needs of the American people. Evans illustrates how his social network embraces these core elements of our human nature.
While Twitter is lambasted regularly by critics for being supported by venture capital and having no real revenue model, with over 6 million registered users and 700% plus growth, Twitter is definitely on to something. But what?
Monetizing Twitter is especially interesting because of its size and structure. One can assume, when there is excessive user adoption, a revenue stream should follow. Conjecture however abounds as to how Twitter can become fiscally sound. Some indicate it will be acquired by Google. Others say that banner ads and keyword ad sales will become its cash cow. Currently, however, the consensus of opinion seems to be that Twitter will eventually monetize itself through the value of its real time search capabilities. But nothing is jumping off the page just yet as the next BIG IDEA, or one worthy of the president tapping into this resource as a potential cure for the economy.
Unless Barack Obama has determined that the best decision for the country is to base that decison on the “wisdom of the crowds!” While Bill Clinton favored polling as a decion-making barometer, this type of metric may not have elicited the most accurate results. Avoiding the filter of sample surveys, and by going direct to the people, the President can gain insight from not only those that put him in office, but also from those that voted for other guy. Perhaps the Obama plan is to examine the collective zeitgeist at this moment in time, so that his next chess move is in consort with general opinion. And perhaps the Twitterverse is the first stage in the mining process for that opinion.
Since the United States has underwent a big change this January now that Barack Obama is in office, it stands to reason that the White House Web site has also undergone some serious changes as well.
Go ahead and do a compare and contrast with the picture. Note the one from the Bush era has a sidebar menu that is big and wide. As for the menu for the Obama era, you will need to bring your cursor over to see that one, and there are some serious changes there.
I would definitely call the changes sweeping as it has undergone a full overhaul. In comparison to the whitehouse.gov during the Dub-ya years, the logo has been reduced in size, and the menu uses the carousel effect.
Other changes are detours from the usual standards of usability, and a search box that is not in the usual upper right hand corner. There is an email/newsletter sign-up there.
So what has caused the White House site to go new-cue-ler? Could it be because we have a president who knows how to navigate the net, and realizes how important web design is when presenting a great image of the executive office? Well, I have heard no report that the changes came from an executive order.