Amidst a deep depression and fierce war, President Franklin Roosevelt made history by speaking to the people with his radio fireside chats. His frank expositions flowed through living rooms across the country, fostering the emergence of a broader sense of transparency and involvement within the American democracy. Now Andrew Raseij, founder of TechPresident.com, which tracked 2008 campaigns online operations, predicts Barack Obama will revolutionarily employ online video and interactivity to communicate with the American people. Raseij also alluded to the advent of a more efficient dialogue between the country and the administration through blogging or posting questions.
An Internet presidency will likely send and receive information faster than, say, a television presidency. With the economy in dire straits, Obama stressed the need for swift action in his first post-election news conference. Like Roosevelt chatting fireside about the banking crisis or the details of his New Deal policies, Obama will likely employ YouTube-like videos about economic policy. Videos of government meetings and a database of federal spending are also to be included on a new website so taxpayers can see their money at work.
A recent Pew Research survey found 33 percent of Americans got most of their 2008 campaign news from the Internet, up roughly 300 percent from 2004. This trend, coupled with Obamas plan to be the first president to appoint a chief technology officer, suggest a sea of change in government communication. The Internet offers an unrivaled populist platform for civic engagement, and promises a new layer of transparency to the executive. We each ought to make a pragmatic choice to embrace the new media and the democratic progress it represents.