A direct line between citizens and the White House

Never in the history of our country have citizens had a more direct line to the President of the United States. Social Media and other Government 2.0 technologies, combined with a desire to be more transparent, have opened up channels for all of us. Last Thursday and Friday, for example, Press Secretary Gibbs spent 30 minutes each day answering questions from ordinary citizens on Twitter. Alex Howard of O’Reilly Media captured these sessions in his blog if you’d like to check them out.

As great as efforts like these are, they are disorganized and segmented within one social media channel, in this case Twitter. It is critical that efforts like these reach a maximum number of citizens, more planning is required. My advice to the Press Secretary, and to Macon Phillips who is coordinating these efforts, is:

  • Make this a scheduled weekly activity.
  • Setup an ideation platform to capture questions ahead of the event. By using a simple technology like this citizens can vote for the questions they want answered and the Press Secretary can maximize his time on those items. As I have already offered, I would be happy to coordinate with White House to set this up for FREE.
  • Answer the questions simultaneously via a Live Video stream and on the idea platform. The benefits of this approach:
    • The number of people who can get answers is maximized.
    • The Live Video Stream should be captured and stored on YouTube, again, broadening the reach of this message.
    • By answering the questions on the idea platform you have a record of the answers that are available to people who were not able to attend in real-time.
    • If using the right platform the information is 508 compliant so those with disabilities can also obtain the information.

By taking this simple approach we can allow citizens to extend their understanding of issues beyond what is delivered to them by journalist alone.


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Tim Evans

Same problem here as with other Open Government initiatives: it’s just a new transom over which to throw the same old complaints about Government, or to pursue their personal benefits claims.