Obama makes quick move to update WhiteHouse.gov

New administration unveils new, more interactive presidential website

Inauguration day historically is known as being all about a peaceful passage of power. But a change of administration wasn't the only change happening as President Barack Obama took the oath of office.

As Obama was being sworn in, the WhiteHouse.gov Web site was getting a change of its own.

At noon EST today, the president's official Web site appeared online with a new design, one that focused not just on the new administration but on new media. For example, it has a feature called The Briefing Room where users can go to read the latest White House blog posts and even sign up for e-mail news updates.

In a blog post, Macon Phillips, director of new media for the White House, said that nonemergency legislation will be posted on the site for five days, giving citizens a chance to review and comment on it.

"Especially with their campaign, they've shown how savvy they are with these tools," said Caroline Dangson, an analyst at IDC. "[Obama] used these tools to connect with people and gave them hope that they [would] have a say in government. Obama has surrounded himself with people who are technically savvy. His thinking is to empower Americans and make them feel part of a social change -- and social media is a part of that."

During his campaign for president, Obama seemingly showed other politicians what it means to harness the power of the Web. The then-senator went beyond the somewhat static Web pages of most past campaigns and tapped the power of Web 2.0 tools, including Facebook, YouTube, blogs and discussion boards, to create a conversation with potential voters.

And just last week, Obama made it clear how attached he is to his BlackBerry, telling a CNN reporter that he's planning on hanging onto it despite security and legal issues.

Allen Weiner, an analyst at research firm Gartner Inc., said now that Obama and his team have proven themselves to be technically savvy, continued proficiency is going to be expected.

"Clearly, Obama's advisers understood how to use the Internet," he said. "I think it is almost a mandate for him to continue that. I think people would be disappointed if he didn't do that. I don't know if they need to be cutting edge, but using tested technology is going to be important."

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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