SocialMedia with Obama As President

Ellen McGirt of Fast Company asked a couple of questions about the new administration and SocialMedia which she summarized in a moving, personal post that combined fresh reactions to the President-elect and perspective from a wide range of respondents. The two questions and my quickly prepared response follow:


1) What would be some things that a modern president could do to embrace new technologies?

2) What, if anything, should we be worried about with a wired, connected citizenry?

My Response:

I’ve heard Obama will appoint a Cabinet-level IT/Digital Czar. Very good start. Would recommend that they have a primary office in Silicon Valley/Palo Alto/S.F. Here are 5 other ways to embrace:

1) Fund at earliest education levels. Fund access, literacy and security. If we want to change the way the world views us as well as our world view, also extend each new laptop purchased in US to “One Lap Top Per Child” initiative and connect both ends (past efforts from OLTC didn’t keep donation and donators connected). Pen pals, but via txt.

2) Extend literacy and access to all areas of the US and every strata of income. Bart Decreem, now of Tapulous (the iphone app guys) created a non-profit in East Palo Alto in the early 90s called “Plugged-In” that taught inner-city kids how to code websites and create rich media storytelling. Like teaching them music, but perhaps more lucrative. This is a BIG idea that should be revived and nationalized. Not a hand-out but a true hand-up.

3) Create Innovation Incentives. Instead of a housing rush, create a start-up rush and make it easier to start, create, fail and reiterate–just as the silicon valley has done for nearly six decades. Not asking for long-term loans that can default, but offering incentives to employ local talent, breaks for incorporation, perhaps even pooled resources like Amazon’s backbone but funded by Government–reduce the final barriers to the true two-guys-in-a-garage dream. Also under incentives, consider extending cap-gain incentives for tech; tax moratorium on emerging areas as they did ecommerce; esp social commerce; etc.

4) Net neutrality.

5) Increase Security in a way that does not diminish rights. Financial. Identity. Corporate.

To answer second question, I grow stronger each day in my faith in the citizens/community to self-regulate and police. Based on my first two responses, I’m a big fan of access and literacy to make us more connected. I believe the upsides of a connected citizenry far outweigh concerns.

In fact, as Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff point out in Groundswell, Social Media amplified by Social Networks have changed the game where people now source from each other what they used to through corporations. That means the ignorance or the arrogance of Power is now accountable to the collective intelligence. As we look back five years from now, I believe our analysis will tell us that this is what ultimately changed the tone and tide of these elections. It made smear politics more difficult. It made previously silenced voices heard. And it gave candidates unprecedented access to constituents, influence and even funding.

Forrester’s Jeremiah Owyang also posted a reminder of Barack Obama’s campaign promises around technology reform as a good anchor. They include R&D funding and credits as well as Anti-trust law language. Would love to see more on the other initiatives above. So, what do want to see? Add to the list in the comments below.

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