Winds of change fan Obama’s high expectations

Since Barack Obama won the US presidential election last week, warm goodwill around the world towards the President-elect (and, I’d argue, towards the USA in general) is undiminished; if anything, it’s increasing.

You can read the opinions of political analysts, commentators, pundits and anyone with a blog or Twitter account and a point of view as to what’s driving this. This blogger’s unscientific view is simple: People around the world think that Obama as the next US president and in charge of the world’s most powerful country is the man who will sort everything put and make it all better.

There’s little concrete foundation to support such emotive expectations, more a wing and a prayer combined with a credible view that Obama is someone who seems more in tune with things and knows how to find smart people to work with. Therefore, he might be worth trusting, never mind that he’s going to be the president of one particular country and clearly will feel obliged to put that country’s interests above all others’ interests.

(Hmm, I wonder what the Gartner hype cycle would look like if people’s high expectations of Obama were mapped to it.)

There’s also Obama’s own expectations and his actions to date in support of them – signs indicate they are very clearly matching his words, ie, his promises for action and change. Nowhere is this more evident than in action addressing his campaign promise of visible changes in Washington regarding political lobbying.

A few days ago, John Podesta, Co-Chair of President-elect Obama and Vice President-elect Biden’s Transition Team, announced rules for lobbyists in transition, what some are calling the most far-reaching ethics rules of any transition team in history concerning what political lobbyists can and cannot do during the time between now and inauguration day next January 20.

Then there’s the new disclosure requirements if you want to apply for a senior cabinet-level job in the Obama administration.

The New York Times reports that Obama’s office is sending a seven-page questionnaire to those seeking cabinet and other high-ranking posts which, says the newspaper, may be the most extensive application ever.

[…] The questionnaire includes 63 requests for personal and professional records, some covering applicants’ spouses and grown children as well, that are forcing job-seekers to rummage from basements to attics, in shoe boxes, diaries and computer archives to document both their achievements and missteps.

Only the smallest details are excluded; traffic tickets carrying fines of less than $50 need not be reported, the application says. Applicants are asked whether they or anyone in their family owns a gun. They must include any e-mail that might embarrass the president-elect, along with any blog posts and links to their Facebook pages.

The application also asks applicants to “please list all aliases or ‘handles’ you have used to communicate on the Internet.”

You can see the questionnaire (PDF) for yourself.

I think Obama does have some pretty smart people on his team, certainly some who understand the significance of someone’s online presence and other participatory activity online (even though it looks as though someone is missing a beat on his team as far as the Obama Twitter ID is concerned).

How they deal with and safeguard the information people provide is even more significant (hopefully that will be far better handled than the dismal history of data loss in the UK).

I just hope everyone’s expectations are attainable.

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. neville

    Absolutely, Michelle, he does have a lot riding on his shoulder. The whole world, it seems. So I think it's inevitable that he cannot meet everyone's expectations.

  2. Mark Raskino

    We know the hype cycle is applicable to technologies and business management innovations beyond IT. The case for extending its use to politics is unclear. However you are not alone in thinking it might be a way to view progress over time. We have seen recent attempts such as a Gordon Brown hype cycle (http://will-lion.blogspot.com/2008/03/technology-rollercoaster.html) and a Sarah Palin hype cycle ( http://www.rumproast.com/index.php/site/comments/the_sarah_palin_hype_cycle/ )

  3. An Obama Hype Cycle?

    […] Recently we have noticed several blogs raise the question of whether there could be an Obama hype cycle. For example Miki Szikszai says ‘I hope his advisers are telling him about the Gartner hype cycle’ and Neville Hobson asks ‘Hmm, I wonder what the Gartner hype cycle would look like if people’s high expectations of … […]

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