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The White House Turns the (Web) Page

The IT people at the White House must have had a busy day yesterday--just in time for President Obama's inauguration, they swapped out the old (see this March 2008 snapshot, courtesy of the Internet Archive) for a new site modeled after Obama's earlier site, which itself owed a great deal of its content and presentation to Obama's campaign site.

The major new feature of the White House's updated Web presence is a blog, but this doesn't come close to the sort of interactivity Obama's earlier sites featured. There are no comments (although, given the sort of ignorant, bigoted comments our blogs can attract every time they mention the new president's name, I can see why his Webmaster might prefer to avoid the headache of comments altogether). And so far, the posts on this blog have been mostly recycled press releases and proclamations--but I'll give the site's authors a break on this, since this administration isn't even 26 hours old.

I do give those authors credit for including a clear list of the site's different branches at the bottom, along with a search engine that seems to work quickly and accurately and a set of RSS feeds for such regularly-updated content as press pool reports and executive orders (though nothing's been posted in those two categories yet, and the old site offered more feeds overall).

The most worthwhile thing the new administration can do online, however, is not a flashier page for the White House, but to live up to its campaign tech-policy promises to publish information about the workings of government--bills, laws, regulations, spending and contracts--in open formats that allow outside observers to break down this data for their own analysis and commentary.

What would you like to see on the White House's home page? Post your suggestions in the comments... because you never know, the president might stumble across this page on his BlackBerry between meetings.

By Rob Pegoraro  |  January 21, 2009; 1:54 PM ET
Categories:  The Web  
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This country needs less internet comments, not more. The 'Average guy / gal" commenting on everything is a scourge on the internet and a stain on our culture.

Wait, is this irony?

Posted by: JkR- | January 21, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse


On any given day, the most recommendations on popular comments these days are often crack [not free base] comments and enhanced paranoia.

There are some who like to post as many links in a comment as they can find, but any serious comment [like my comment as to whether President Obama really needed to retake his oath again and why or why not] will be too long and too detailed and therefore largely ignored.

I am probably one of the most qualified individuals that I know or even know of for the position of US Drug Czar, BUT my 21 years of recovery from Peruvian Sneezing Powder, a Co-founder of my school's law review, having been published by journals of the ABA on multiple occasions, being the Chairman Emeritus of the Budget & Policy Subcommittee with the Drug Advisory Commission, formerly active here in DC and having advised 8 of Clinton's White House Counsels, as well as some of both Bush's White House Counsels is just too much [I guess] -- heck, I'm overqualified and even have relatives in Bolivia.

The challenge of the Obama Administration at this point is getting thru to decision makers without having to send a generic e-mail, or make a generic entry on what was the transition web site, now the White House Web Site.

Things could be worse, right --- I could be using, at least theoretically.

Posted by: | January 22, 2009 4:09 AM | Report abuse

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