Welcome to White House 2.0

White House 2.0The shelf-life of this post is rapidly fading. I would have blogged it sooner, but Paul wanted real work out of me this week.

So, hey we have a new president here in the US of A. I loathe politics. So for the most part, I’ve tried to stay clear of all that ruckus since, I dunno, 2000 or so.

One very interesting theme from this week’s festivities was the technology one. The Obama camp of course has embraced and successfully used technology since they got going, which contributed heavily to their victory. However, the Executive Branch has been slow to uptake technologies, which is a good thing. Remeber the whitehouse.com-shows-pr0n incident? Thanks to Rick for reminding me of that one. Ah, the good old days.

Anyway, I’ve been watching the coverage with interest.

  • All the changes to whitehouse.gov
  • The President’s New Media Director, Macon Phillips
  • Obama’s staff finds the White House stuck in the Dark Ages
  • Obama’s ongoing BlackBerry saga and the secure brick approved by the NSA
  • The country’s new robots.txt file
  • Obama’s interest in Open Source

Oh and don’t forget the weekly video  address and the National CTO, the list is long. All signs point to an adminstration driven by transparency, which is good. I hope it succeeds. The changes to robots.txt were especially funny because it’s a geeky Easter Egg that didn’t get enough coverage. From Jason Kotte’s post:

Here’s a small and nerdy measure of the huge change in the executive branch of the US government today. Here’s the robots.txt file from whitehouse.gov yesterday:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /cgi-bin
Disallow: /search
Disallow: /query.html
Disallow: /omb/search
Disallow: /omb/query.html
Disallow: /expectmore/search
Disallow: /expectmore/query.html
Disallow: /results/search
Disallow: /results/query.html
Disallow: /earmarks/search
Disallow: /earmarks/query.html
Disallow: /help
Disallow: /360pics/text
Disallow: /911/911day/text
Disallow: /911/heroes/text

And it goes on like that for almost 2400 lines! Here’s the new Obamafied robots.txt file:

User-agent: *
Disallow: /includes/

This relatively innocuous change says a lot about the change in attitude between administrations.

So, I’ve subsribed to the White House blog, as have several thousand other people. I wish the would open comments on the posts, probably one place that comment moderation would be a good thing (FIRST!).

I haven’t followed TheWhiteHouse on Twitter yet, but I may if it gets interesting; funny that the avatar has reverted to the generic one. It was a picture of Obama earlier in the week. It’s unclear what will happen to the famous BarackObama account.

I love all this for a number of reasons.  It’ll be nice to have transparency, or at least the closest they can get to it. I love geeking out, and this adds legitimacy to what we doe everyday.

What about you? What do you think of the technology presence of the new administration so far? Are you jumping on board?

Sound off in the comments.




  1. I'm of the opinion that it may be too much to read political intent into a robots.txt file. As I noted in the comments of a January 21 post in the Inquisitr (perhaps JR Raphael didn't have real work to do this week), perhaps there is a technical explanation for the different changes.

    And I continue to maintain that technology, while it can be a tool to help you achieve a strategic goal, is not a goal in itself. To prove that, you only need to look at Ron Paul, whose campaign arguably had comparable technical savvy to Obama's. How many delegates did Ron Paul secure in his party's political convention? And he was beaten by John McCain, a person who, for whatever reason, doesn't use a computer personally.

    The one thing that I will grant is that technology does give a government official an improved way to get his or her unadulterated message out to the people. And, if the government official allows it, it gives citizens an improved way to get their unadulterated messages back to the government official. Perhaps I can't send a tweet to my Congressman, but I can certainly send him an e-mail.

    However, I don't believe that this is necessarily a sea change in WHY we do things, but just a technological change in HOW we do things.

  2. As I mentioned, I loathe politics.

    The robots.txt file seems to me more like the product of add-as-you-go maintenance and less a product of the administration. Or a conspiracy to hide directories from Google (and those other search engines). Plus, this is the beginning. We should check back in a few years to see if it's still the same.

    I'm just glad to see technology take a bigger role b/c I'm a geek.

  3. And yet you still have no Beer and Blog chapter in DC. There are new chapters forming in Tokyo, Houston and Phoenix.

    But seriously, I highly recommend attending these types of events, which are usually free (as in freedom), because you can learn a lot and meet like-minded folks. I expect the DC area to pick up steam now that the new administration is installed and pushing these types of events and thinking.

    Good stuff.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.