Something that swiftly caught attention and many imaginations yesterday is what happened to the White House website the instant after Barack Obama was sworn in as US President.
The new siteâ€™s design and overall look-and-feel obviously reflect the change in incumbent at the White House, so itâ€™s not the appearance of the site today compared to the previous version when George W. Bush was in charge thatâ€™s so much the main thing to talk about.
What is attention-grabbing are many things behind the scenes, but starting with one thatâ€™s right in front â€“ The Blog.
From reading the first post by Macon Phillips, Director of New Media for the White House, it will be clear to anyone who visits that the White House communicators intend the website to be a primary communication channel:
[â€¦] One of the first changes is the White House’s new website, which will serve as a place for the President and his administration to connect with the rest of the nation and the world. Millions of Americans have powered President Obama’s journey to the White House, many taking advantage of the internet to play a role in shaping our country’s future. WhiteHouse.gov is just the beginning of the new administration’s efforts to expand and deepen this online engagement.
Philipsâ€™ post highlights communication, transparency and participation that he says will be priorities for the online engagement he speaks of.
Even though the blog is a wholly one-way channel â€“ no commenting on any posts, for instance â€“ these are very early days and I bet it will evolve over time.
You certainly have many options for subscribing to the websiteâ€™s content (not just the blogâ€™s) via RSS â€“ this is what I see in Firefox when I click on the RSS icon in the browserâ€™s address bar:
Iâ€™m curious about the platform on which the blog, if not the whole site, is built. Itâ€™s hard to tell anything meaningful to me from peeking at the siteâ€™s page source â€“ no metadata there that indicates in any obvious manner whatâ€™s running the site.
Unlike 10 Downing Street, for instance, which is clear to see that itâ€™s running on WordPress. Even though thereâ€™s no blog.
I think Whitehouse.gov is bespoke. I see references to ASP.NET here and there in the page source and lots of â€˜.aspâ€™ and .aspxâ€™ file extensions referenced, so it looks like itâ€™s built with Microsoftâ€™s ASP.NET. If anyone can throw a bit of light on the platform, Iâ€™d love to know.
Wired magazine has a terrific feature published on Monday which discusses many of the issues it sees facing the new American administration in how that administration needs to develop and evolve its approach to online communication and the huge bureaucracy hurdles to jump along the journey.
So the WhiteHouse.gov that we see today, including the new blog, is just the first step in an evolving journey.
Like much about Barack Obama, there are many expectations to live up to.
[Later] I hit the â€˜publishâ€™ button in Windows Live Writer after a moment of distraction â€“ receiving a phone call and chatting for 20 minutes â€“ before including one quite significant aspect of WhiteHouse.gov that I must also mention here: copyright.
Not only is original content published on the site with no traditional copyright claim (I guess thatâ€™s always been the case as the wording references federal law requirements in this regard) but the new websiteâ€™s copyright statement includes reference to a Creative Commons copyright license:
Except where otherwise noted, third-party content on this site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License. Visitors to this website agree to grant a non-exclusive, irrevocable, royalty-free license to the rest of the world for their submissions to Whitehouse.gov under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License
I read that as meaning it doesnâ€™t apply to content created by Whitehouse.gov content creators, but rather to content submitted by others.
Itâ€™s a pity there isnâ€™t a link to the Creative Commons license text referenced on that page, as then it would be wholly clear what the terms are. I assume it must relate to â€œCreative Commons Attribution 3.0 License,â€ the text that comes up from a search on the Creative Commons website on that precise phrase.
First steps, etc.
[…] the robots.txt file) but it’s another symbol of change being brought in at all levels and another example of how the web is being recognised as an integral part of communicating with the […]
30 mins ago a friend forwarded an anonymous email that had just been sent to her. I rather like it…
We, the United States of America, your top quality supplier of the
ideals of liberty and democracy, would like to apologize for our
2001-2008 interruption in service. The technical fault that led to
this eight-year service outage was located, and the software
responsible was replaced November 4th. Early tests of the newly
installed program indicate that we are now operating correctly, and we
are now fully functional as of January 20th. We apologize for any
inconvenience caused by the outage. We look forward to resuming full
service and hope to improve in years to come. We thank you for your
patience and understanding.
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA