Politics and social networks don’t mix?And if they do, how do online communities have a say, and aren’t just ‘used’?

I’ve have my doubts about Obama’s commitment to social media. Oh, not to social network marketing – the pushing out, on social media broadcast channels like YouTube and Twitter, of widgets and press releases. But he or his advisors stopped tweeting the day of the election and weren’t heard from for months (there are now 2 tweets on his account). Fundraising using social media – full marks. Listening to the people? Hmmmm…

An Obama Promise Broken Already?

I was excited when the President’s new administration announced that their website Http://www.whitehouse.gov would play a big role. Here’s what it said:

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.


They’ve also opened the site up to search engines, for the very first time. Great step!

They promise more communication, transparency and participation. Sounds good, but their blog is not open for comments.

That’s right. Although you can fill out a form, commenting on their blog isn’t available.

Communication and participation is a dialogue, not a monologue. Although it may seem like a petty gripe with all the big issues the new administration has to deal with, from a public relations standpoint, this may backfire on them.

Sure, I know it takes a lot of time to weed through comments, after all I write and manage three blogs. But it’s not like they aren’t already getting tons of email and letters, and someone (or many) are on top of that!

What do you think? Should the blog be open to comments? (more)

I wonder which social media consultant the Whitehouse is taking advice from?

If a government can’t have comments on their blog, the likelihood of them having something like The Future of Melbourne wiki or the The Police Act wiki is… well, unlikely.

Barack Obama widget for News PR

Barack Obama widget for News PR

Especially one that has had a few years of engagement online to learn engagement. Now it’s time to give back. And not by turning off comments.

What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility — a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, … (inauguration speech)

He’s right – it’s time for collaborative government. Leaving comments turned on, even with pre-moderation but a tonne of interns would’ve been a start. But until those comments go on, we’ll have lots of push press releases, and no open source governance.

If you want to read more on how good Barack Obama was at advocacy (motivating people to do stuff for him), read Stephen Collins at Acidlabs. I wonder how the New Mr. President will reward those advocates. Oh not with money. Just with a voice, that will be heard.

You can also comment on the above at CommonSensePR. Don’t forget to say how great he was a pushing out onto social media, that comments turned off does not mean not engaged, that he’s only been in the job 24 hours yada yada 😛

EDIT: What is a blog? What is a website?


Is a blog an “easy to update website” ie something that is dependent on what the creator/owner does with it? Or is a blog “a website for engagement” and dependent on what the reader does with it? Because at the end of the day, how many people really care if it’s WordPress or Dreamweaver that the site was written in – they just know if it’s read-only or read/write, no?

I personally don’t care – only, if you call your website a blog, I’ll scamper over to have a conversation, to find it has no comment function, I’ll be disappointed. If you call it a nice new website with a feedback form, I won’t even notice.