Barack Obama – “President 2.0”

I’d like to say I was an avid follower of the US Presidential Election race, but unfortunately I was not. I kept and eye on what was going on but really I was not particularity cued up on either. I just hated Bush though so any change no matter who it was, was going to be a very good thing.

I didn’t like the sound of McCain, he’s so dam Old that he’ll have a properly old-fashioned attitude to running the country free world. I was quite suspicious of this video about Obama highlighting some pretty scary facts about his background. However those concerns did not last long after I got to truly understand who he is and what he’s about. Right now I think that from many standpoints, he’s the best thing to happen to this world in quite a long long time.

One of the main reasons I like Obama so much, is that he the first person in real authority that is truly part of the new generation, and his ideas and aspirations reflect this. For this reason the younger generation – the ‘new generation’ of people who are now running this world, can really identify with him – and he will bring to fruition a lot of changes that the older generations would not have really though about. Long before he was president he wrote a book himself, where you can get to know the real Obama. He even admits that he used to smoke a lot of marijuana, and even did cocaine occasionally. What that says to the general public is that he’s not going to pretend to be the prefect model citizen – because most people are not that themselves. He is normal, and cool, and experienced in ‘real-life’ – that is how a proper representative of the people should be.

The other (main) reason, the reason behind the title of this post – is that I really believe Obama is the first president in history who actually “Gets Technology” – and for this reason I’m calling him “President 2.0“. Technology was an absolutely crucial part of his election campaign, and definitely one of the main reasons why he won. He used services like Facebook, Myspace & Twitter to spread his name in the campaign run. His Change.gov website is absolutely excellent in terms of the  quality of his website from a standards point of view, and also the  overall objective and delivery of his message. A big different from McCain who admitted his did not even use Email. Obama on the other hand has a Wii hooked up to his presidential sized TV in his oval office. (Well, its probably in his living room but I’d like to think  about how it would be cool if he played a little Wii tennis while entertaining the worlds leaders)…

Reagan was the first president to mix things up in his generation by having a weekly address to the nation on the radio. Obama does it on youtube.

I’ve watched all his addresses, and the most incredibly striking thing to me is his absolute sincerity in what he is saying. Polar opposites from how George Dubahyah just seemed like he was reading a pre written speech and really he had no understanding of what he was saying whatsoever. With the constant clueless look on his face I just don’t know how anyone could take him seriously…

So, back to technology – Obama has announced how he is going to use significant use of technology in turning his country around. He wants to encourage a lot more jobs to be created in, and using, technology. He acknowledges that the US has an embarrassingly low amount of people who have access to broadband, and plans to change that. He has committed to creating a “Chief Technology Officer” for the US. He also wants to fully digitise the American Health service – which in my opinion is a complete shambles – but that’s a topic for another post.

But it was something I saw today that really impressed me. He is using a methodology known as “Crowdsourcing”  to get a real representation of what his people think are the most important and pressing issues that his cabinet will need to address. He’s then getting the best and most popular ideas on how to solve these problems – and he’s using  the best of real “Web 2.0” technologies to achieve this.

To briefly explain what Crowdsourcing is, it dates back hundreds of years. A gentlemen did an experiment where he brought a cow to a town fair and offered a prize to the person who could guess the exactly weight. There were many hundreds of guesses and none of them were exactly correct. However when he charted the average of all of these guesses, collectively the mean average of these guesses, was exactly correct. This then, has some very powerful ramifications. It is generally accepted that although ‘a person’ may be smart, ‘people’ (collectively) are incredibly stupid. For example: think of how in cartoon The Simpson’s, an ‘angry mob’ usually do some ridiculous things and make very poor decisions. However, just because most peoples ideas are bad, it does not mean you can’t get good ideas from a random selection of the great unwashed. If you put a few rules and regulations around it, and moderate it in a fair and progressive manner (in this case using technology) you can get some really fantastic ideas – and lean a lot.

One of the best examples of this I have seen before is the Dell Idea Storm – in which Dell asks its customers to send them ideas how to improve their products and their service – so really see what their customer want. People then read these ideas and easily vote on if they agree of disagree. To do this, Dell have used a software program from Salesforce.com – who are in my opinion the best real “Web 2.0”  company out there. Obama is now using that same program to let his people tell him what they think. The Citizens Briefing Book is a great idea. People can voice their opinions, suggest ideas – and the good ones become known pretty quick. Yes, there may be some idiots and weirdo’s – but on the absolutely massive scale that this is being done on, the cream generally rises to the top.

And this is exactly why I am so impressed. I truly believe that doing this is going to be really effective and we are going to see some fantastic things come out of it. Using these technologies like this has been a ‘vision’ of mine, for a very long time. I’ve always felt in my heart that the usage of such advanced web technologies brings absolutely monumental power to the people, and if done properly, will bring some really fantastic positive results. Before now it just has not been practical or possible to let so many people have their voice heard, but the times are a changing – and I think this is only the beginning.

Obama – Change. I can’t wait.

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