The Obama campaign for President is a study in how to effectively use technology to communicate with people. Yet as the new staff moved into the White House offices in January, they found themselves in the technological Dark Ages.
As Obama officials try to bring the same social media sophistication they used in the campaign to governing, they have run smack into the constraints of federal bureaucracy, encountering a jumble of disconnected phone lines, old computer software, and security regulations forbidding outside e-mail accounts. That means no Facebook to communicate with supporters. No outside e-mail log-ins. No instant messaging. No BlackBerry for the President. For a staff that mastered relentless online social networking, it will be an adjustment.
One of the first changes was the launch of the new WhiteHouse.gov Web site which became active minutes after Obama took the oath of office. One of the issues is that due to the Presidential Records Act, all office work must be preserved. It will be interesting to watch how the new administration will enable more open communication options within the constraints of government regulations.