As we transition from the presidential campaign to an Obama administration, the looming question is, "What will become of all those people networked via My.BarackObama.com (MyBO) and Obama’s massive email list?" Is there a place in government for the swarming grassroots masses? And can we capitalize on its collective intelligence in order to make its contribution meaningful?
I see two non-mutually exclusive tracks Obama can take. Track one is to keep MyBO alive as a political community outside of government. Track two is to turn Obama’s massive grassroots community into a vehicle for a more transparent and connected democracy.
Regardless of how Obama pursues using these new technologies in the coming years, there will be technological and legal challenges to overcome. The laws separating the two domains and the technological challenges of bringing federal government systems up to date will shape how social networking technology gets incorporated into the mix. And in addition to the challenges of bringing the social network inside, there will also be the challenge of making government more transparent. In an ideal world, the government will provide an easy to use interface for citizens to access government data and an open access to the raw data so others can use them in other ways.
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