Even Obama gets locked down

Subjecting politicians to excessive regulation discourages interactivity.

Subjecting politicians to excessive regulation discourages interactivity.

My friend Will has e-mailed this from the Washington Post to me – It may cheer Steph up a little to know that he’s not fighting a purely British problem….

“Two years after launching the most technologically savvy presidential campaign in history, Obama officials ran smack into the constraints of the federal bureaucracy yesterday, encountering a jumble of disconnected phone lines, old computer software, and security regulations forbidding outside e-mail accounts.

What does that mean in 21st-century terms? No Facebook to communicate with supporters. No outside e-mail log-ins. No instant messaging. Hard adjustments for a staff that helped sweep Obama to power through, among other things, relentless online social networking.”

Update: Steph’s results are up!

Crowdsourcing policy

The FT has picked up on a couple of social media sites that are intended to bring ‘the wisdom of crowds’ to bear upon the new President’s policymaking. Both Fix This Barack and Whitehouse 2 aim to set priorities for the incoming President. Obama’s team appear to be taking steps to do this themselves by promoting some participative policymaking on the transition website.

A few quick observations:

  • Unless an understanding of how participative politics can work in the context of representative democracy, initiatives like these often seem to put the cart before the horse. I’d suggest that participative policymaking works best when those participating aren’t aware that they have a political audience – a point that I will flesh out in a post here shortly.
  • In promoting transparency in policy-making, Obama may – in some ways – deny himself important policymaking tools. For this reason, I’d be a bit worried that he will disappoint expectations when he decides not to deny himself those tools. And I think that there is a consensus that heightened expectations is one of the greatest handicaps that Obama is going to have to overcome in his early Presidency.

Changing the subject slightly, here is an interesting observation from the UK political blogger Freemania on Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich’s attempt to sell the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama.