Was part of a good discussion today about 1) highs-and-lows of the digital year [almost] gone and 2) hopes and fears for the year to come.
Barack Obama’s use of digital media featured highly in both. We spoke about our shared admiration for the election campaign, and our shared aspirations for what might happen after January 20th 2009.
What excites someone in my sort of role about what the new US Administration might do with digital, is how it might excite other leaders around the world and encourage them to keep pace.
Only time will tell if the adventurous, inclusive and integrated approach to digital we witnessed during the presidential campaign will translate to an average day in the White House. But I think the portents are positive.
policy teams will be sharing new developments with you [the American people]… and asking for feedback.
Yes it is basic, broad and bloggy but the application integration is good, there rules are clear and simple, and the tone is right – more ‘inform and deliberate with us’ rather than ‘have your say and tell us what to think’. It has certainly caught the American public’s attention as can be seen by the number of comments and participants.
Sophistication, depth and value will come with time… so long as the encouragement keeps coming and the momentum is maintained.
Yet, surprisingly not everyone is as convinced by the value of engagement as you might think in the closing stages of the first decade of the Twenty-First Century. Have a look at this article on the BBC website carrying a comment from former Whitehouse E-Communications Director, David Almacy, where he says:
‘the question is whether he’ll be governing based on how people vote in online polls or whether he’ll just be choosing policies and making decisions based on what he feels is right and on what is best to move this country forward.’
I suspect that this sort of dismissive comment will, unfortunately, be encountered again and again. Sadly, I think we’ll also find the media stirring up the controversy and doubt.
My advice is to ignore it. Don’t get frustrated. Questioning whether engagement – on- or offline- is right and feasible will quickly disappear under the sheer weight of proof-in-practise. After all that sort of thinking is just so 1999.