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The presidency and Twitter
The Municipalist

The Municipalist blogger (slogan: “Where government and Web 2.0 collide”) has an entertaining post about the potential of Twitter as a presidential platform.

Twitter — a service that enables users to post short entries online via PCs or handheld systems — is the next logical step for a president-elect who has already embraced video, the blogger writes.

Twitter would let the public get to know Barack Obama in a way that his videos will never allow, the Municipalist says. “Could Obama do this? Is it even possible? Certainly it is. We have to make it possible. What kind of democracy is this if the president is literally afraid to…tweet?”

For a good model, Obama need look no further than the tweets by basketball great Shaquille O’Neal, the Municipalist adds.

Tweets without context

Phil Windley, former chief information officer of Utah, points out one of the inherent shortcomings of Twitter as a news source: its lack of context. Because tweets are limited to 140 characters, writers cannot do much more than convey facts or reactions. That was a problem during the terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, he says. Reading a stream of comments is “like being in the middle of a crowd that you can't see over and you know something’s happening on the edge, but you can't tell what and you’re trying to figure it out from what people around you are saying,” Windley writes. “In many cases, they can’t see either — it's mostly hearsay.”

Gadgets galore
Scientific American

Scientific American showcases 13 products that range in price from cheap ($9) to ghastly ($11,000) that are designed to please “techno geeks.”

First up: Widescreen virtual reality visors that make it seem as if the user is viewing a 52-inch video screen. The visors work with personal computers, gaming consoles, cell phones and other devices. The price: $200 to $400.

At the high end, look for the Dreamflyer flight simulator, which looks like a recumbent exercise machine equipped with a flat panel monitor. The price: $10,500.

More advice for Obama
U.S. News and World Report

Jonathan Breul, executive director of the IBM Center for the Business of Government, suggests eight ways in which President-elect Barack Obama could make the government more effective.

Breul’s first piece of advice is to immediately start focusing on management and performance issues. “While many of the president’s appointees will not yet be confirmed, management and performance cannot wait. How soon the administration begins its management initiatives will likely determine how successful the initiatives will be,” he writes.

Obama should also take a cue from both Bill Clinton and the current president by defining an overarching set of management principles and values. “A clear agenda is needed to build and sustain the support needed to further a president’s program and agenda,” Breul writes.

Posted on Dec 05, 2008 at 12:12 PM


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