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How Will You Follow the Inauguration Online?

The day has finally arrived. At noon, the government of the United States of America will trade one employee for another; George W. Bush's term as president will end, and Barack Obama's will begin.

At this point, I don't think I need to describe all the reasons why people might look forward to this change of personnel, and why more than a million of them will probably be watching on the Mall today.

But what about those of you who can't or choose not to make the pilgrimage to Washington? Will you leave it to TV to tell the story of Obama's inauguration, or will you turn to the Web in place of television, or in addition to it? You won't lack for options, between the Twitter and Facebook updates you can expect from friends and strangers in the crowd (assuming the wireless networks don't implode from overuse), the live streaming video to be Webcast (using Microsoft's Silverlight software) from the official inaugural site, the open threads you can expect to see at the usual political hubs online, and whatever interactive widgets the journalistic world can cook up for the occasion.

If your primary prism for this event will be your computer's monitor, tell me how that goes. Because I'll be missing out on that part of the inauguration -- I plan on being among the million-plus on the Mall. And I won't be liveblogging the event or posting more than one or two Twitter updates (typing on my phone in gloves is a nonstarter, as is removing my gloves multiple times just so I can tweet about every little development in the inauguration). Instead, I will experience the event in a thoroughly analog way -- as one among hundreds of thousands, somewhere in the crowd. It will surely be a pain, but some events are worth experiencing through your own eyes and in real time.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  January 20, 2009; 7:15 AM ET
Categories:  Digital culture  
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Selected, not elected. The man is a total FRAUD. Not my president. I could care less. Oh, and how come things are instantly better now? Huh? Guess that ZERO is a big ZERO after all. All Obama's fault. Get used to hearing it.

Posted by: DemsHateAmerica | January 20, 2009 8:42 AM | Report abuse

No Silverlight for us. My wife and I are in our study in front of our respective Macs reading our mail, the Post, and the Times with the radio is tuned to NPR. My MacBook Pro sits on the desk displaying a full-screen stream from

Champagne sometime afternoon.

Posted by: doshea | January 20, 2009 9:04 AM | Report abuse

I will observe the occasion by displaying my American Flag at half-staff for the dishonor being done to the history of this country and President Lincoln today.
The least experienced, least qualified, least accomplished President-elect in history, with racist, anti-American, abortion extremist, and criminal associates, will be sworn in with the Bible of the greatest President this country ever had. This is truly an Obamanation and a desecration, a violation of the posessions of the dead. Obamanation is a term that will live for a hundred years or more. Just wanted to take a moment to remind everybody that the President-elect couldn't have gotten a government job that required a security clearance otherwise because of some of his closest long-term associates. Yeah, I know, a lot of people don't care

Posted by: lightnin001 | January 20, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Hi, I live in Montgomery Co. and I have been watching coverage online since 6 this morning. My brother and I created a website called lyvegyde ( that provides links to live, online events. We have links to all kinds of live inaugural webcasts today (from the Washington Post, CNN Live, C-SPAN, PBS, CBS News, MSNBC, and much much more) that we hope you will check out!

Ustream also just released an app for the iPhone so that you can watch their coverage (from the AP) if you have a 3G iPhone with wifi access. Everything seems to be going pretty smoothly with the webcasts today.

Thanks! Mary

Posted by: lyvegyde | January 20, 2009 10:27 AM | Report abuse

I'm watching the live AP video feed on WAMU's website at and I'm amazed at how well it's holding up.

I'm also just plain embarrassed by some of the other posters comments. Get a life, folks. Sheesh.

Posted by: HaigEK | January 20, 2009 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Max Anderson here. I sat with some of your front line reporters digitally today. You have a great network of leaders and columnists out there with their ears to the wall, so to speak. I sat here at my station in KC,MO watching tv on various channels and montoring internet traffic this morning. I would have to say this is one of the largets events in history! I am glad to be have been present in such an event. Obama has begun to adress many issues by the horns, so to speak today! This is good! I have no doubt he will be a great leader. From what I am hearing now he will continue a legacy of understanding by unity. But, don't be confused that he will be soft on any foreign policy continued in his legacy, he has made that relatively clear. I feel he is a good newer fresh mind in office that took that sacred oath today! We can only flourish if we change with the world in adaptability as it changes. Thank you so much for inviting me to your community forums today. I was honored to be a part of history with you!
Max Anderson

Posted by: max1mos111 | January 20, 2009 12:25 PM | Report abuse

I tried to watch the swearing-in at my desk, but the live-streaming didn't go so well. I first tried Washington Post's stream, very choppy. CNN immediately put me on a "wait list" so I went to MSNBC. Not quite as choppy, but then during the speech it slowed down even more. Then it started jumping ahead trying to catch up, causing me to miss most of the speech. I tried a few other sites but none seemed to work, so I went back to Washington Post's stream, which was still choppy but at least didn't skip anything.

Maybe I waited too late to look, but I was disappointed to not find any audio streams. I'm more than willing to sacrifice the video of Obama and crowd reaction shots to just get some good audio.

Posted by: mskidz | January 20, 2009 1:41 PM | Report abuse

The Obama live stream was choppy on my Earthlink DSL after downloading Silverstream, which kept 'complaining' about bandwith.

CNN's connection via Facebook was not much better, thus it was ABC Ch 7 affiliate here in DC that did the honors.

Posted by: | January 20, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

You should have realized that you would subject yourself to idiotic political pseudo-commentary by zealots such as DemsHateAmerica and lightnin001 -- which have absolutely nothing to do with the subject of your blog -- when you bring up the subject of the inauguration, even if it is to talk about the technology, not the politics.

They must be reminded that such defamatory comments as theirs would, in many other nations, subject them to imprisonment or worse. Like the guy who just received three years in a Thai prison for a few “inappropriate” lines in a novel about a member of the royal family.

Posted by: 54Stratocaster | January 20, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I have had the tv on all day, flipping around but...the Blackberry thumbs are flying. I have really enjoyed the posts on "Getting There" and WTOP giving perspectives from all over the city and reports on Metro and all.

Posted by: tbva | January 20, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Well, coverage of the Parade leaves quite a bit to be desired.
The inaugration coverage on the NEW White House web site is not covering the paRADE.

Ch 7 has now begun to SUCK

Ch 4 is probably best now, but still fUll of other things and

CNN's 4 possible viewing options also doesn't seem to get CONTINUOUS coverage of the parade.


Posted by: | January 20, 2009 5:59 PM | Report abuse

Combo coverage for me.

I watched the swearing in, some of the coverage before that, and some after, up to the point when CNN had to pull out of the luncheon, on TV with friends. We switched between NBC in real time and TiVo recording CNN. We mostly watched TiVo so we could pause, go back to examine details, etc. Meanwhile, I had the live feed through running on my laptop and another browser tab on the Post's front page, where I was checking on the live coverage in blogs and updates. My friend and I were also looking up things online. For instance, we were fascinated by Aretha Franklin's hat, and my friend wondered whether it was an echo back to Marian Anderson's famous concert. So I found some photos, and it turned out Marian Anderson wasn't wearing a hat at all. And my friend found the text of Obama's inaugural address online while he was still delivering it, so she followed along and sent me a link via e-mail (as we sat side by side on the sofa).

I didn't bother with the parade coverage at all.

I think what gave me the most feel for being there (spurious or not) were the blog posts on Following Dr. Gridlock's progress on Metro, the entries about ticketholders standing in line or the people who got too cold to stay, notes about bathroom lines at restaurants, etc. The CNN and NBC coverage was good for the official stuff (and my friends have high-def, so we got great detail), but there was very little sense of the crowd, aside from the obligatory overhead shots down the Mall and individual reaction shots.

NPR was also good. On NPR (playing upstairs, in case we had to run up to the bathroom and didn't want to miss anything), you could hear people booing Bush or cheering when the Obamas appeared or whatever. Didn't get any of that on TV.

Posted by: moxilator | January 20, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse



Last night, I ran Microsoft's current version of the Malicious Software Removal Tool using the Full Scan option and it found nothing.

This evening, I ran Super Antispyware Professional, Quick Scan, which found a number of spy ware items, as well as 3 Trojans of unspecified origin.

My antivirus is BitDefender Total Security 2009, which admitably doesn't catch much spy ware [thus Super Antispyware.] I use Superanti-spyware instead of Lavasoft Adaware, because Adaware tends to 'hang up' after being run a couple of times and for only $20 more than the free version of Super Antispyware, one gets a 'lifetime' of updates.

Now since Bit Defender has changed its free 800 support number to a 904 toll [Fla.] number, I have no idea if their technical support is still in Romania, simply because every time I try to call them at the new number, they are 'always to busy' to pick up and I ultimately get 'disconnected' after 5 to 10 minutes on hold. Also you can repair ANY BitDefender issue by removing and then reinstalling the program -- presto.

But I am wondering how the unspecified Trojans got thru Bit Defender, but were caught by Super Antispyware in a quick system scan -- which is quicker than the Quick BitDefender scan, which is always suppose to be checking 'incoming anyway' and yes, it is so set up.

Any other folks notice in increase in unspecified Trojans today watching the multiple sites for the Obama activities, namely, the White House site, CNN and the WaPo versions of streaming video, etc. ?

Posted by: | January 20, 2009 10:50 PM | Report abuse

Work with an IT Dept. at a NYC agency. At the last minute, for ITD staff, IT management decided to present live coverage via computer and projector in a conference room. Results:

1. The city's networks are managed by another agency, which decided to ration the bandwidth city-wide. Thus, most connections to streaming sites were slow, shaky, or non-functional.

2. That city agency set up a multicast site for city agencies, but the specs were sent out late Thursday afternoon and would have required re-working firewall rules, so they weren't implemented at my agency. That agency also set up a unicast site, but that was quickly overloaded by all the other city agencies that didn't implement the multicast settings. Thus, the city's link to live coverage brought up only a "link not found" error.

3. My agency has web filtering and, sure enough, most video streaming sites are blocked.'s video page brought up a block message, MSNBC's just looked like it was connecting without any result. No luck with WaPo's video, either.

4. Got video from the PIC2009 site, though it forced me to install SilverLight. However, the picture froze and the app buffered video every 30 seconds, so it was unwatchable.

5. Got video from the New York Times home page. It, too, paused to buffer, but that was every 10 minutes or so. However, since the NYT home page automatically refreshes every 15 minutes or so, it got cut short during Aretha's song. Re-connected, but then I got it in my head to pre-emptively refresh it before Obama went up to take the oath. Sure enough, couldn't reconnect to the video stream at all. At which point, the few people watching scrambled over to the boss' office, where he had it on TV.

6. Afterward, out of stubbornness, brought up the CBS News video of Obama taking the oath. However, when I clicked the fullscreen link, it said Flash Player 9.x or higher was needed to zoom up. Installed Flash 10 twice, once for IE, once for FireFox. Connected to the video, clicked the link, it still says 9.x or higher needed. (Same result at home, where I also have the latest Flash player)

At which point, I finally had enough. I'll check the repeat on C-SPAN or the video at news web sites from home.

As for live TV over the Internet, from what I see, it still has a long way to go.

Posted by: wapo-nc | January 21, 2009 9:05 AM | Report abuse

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