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A President and his Technology

January 26, 2009

The recent inauguration of the 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Obama was probably the most covered inauguration in history. Technology played a large part in this as has been mentioned in mass media and as a result many more people all over the world were able to see, hear and read about the build up, the event itself and the President’s first week in office.

In the build up to the election, Obama’s campaign team made use of Twitter. Leo Laporte, on The Tech Guy Ep.528, talked about Obama’s tech use and said it would be great if he could continue to use something like Twitter but also acknowledged that, with the recent event where a number of high profile Twitter accounts were compromised, the reputation of the President’s office is at risk.

The issue of security has also been an issue with regard to President Obama wanting to maintain contact with the outside world by keeping in touch with a Blackberry handset. There has been speculation that the President would not be able to keep a Blackberry and would have to settle for a clunky NSA approved device. This may still be the case but according to the White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, Barack Obama has a Blackberry device allowing him to keep in contact with “…senior staff and a small group of personal friends….” The Press Secretary also stated that the emails will be subject of the Public Records Act.

The inauguration was highly accessible event for those who had acceess to technology. It could be watched on TV, and online or read about on the various news sites and blogs. Many sites were streaming the event live (incase you were cooped up in an office cubicle without a TV) with many many more people talking about it in chat rooms, on live blogs, in Twitter, FriendFeed, et al. CNN set up a Photosynth collection of pictures from those attending the inauguration and parade demonstrating how common digital cameras have become and how easy it is to get those pictures into a communal space. There’s also another marvel of digital photography, a high-res panorama of the inauguration itself by David Bergman.

As part of the embracing of technology, Obama is also looking to appoint a Chief Technology Officer as part of this technology strategy for the US. Not long after being inaugurated, the whitehouse.gov website was updated for a fresh new presidential term. To go with embracing of technology in a modern era, the weekly presidential address was conducted on the web and made available on YouTube; the address has been traditionally been broadcast over the radio.

On a final note, to go with all the other ‘tech’ tidbits relating to Obama’s presidency, worthy of being noted is that Barack Obama is the first US President to have the official portrait taken with a digital camera. In this case the camera used was a Canon 5D MkII, the photo was taken by Pete Souza.

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