News Center

open
Elsewhere Online twitter Facebook SLS Blogs YouTube SLS Channel Linked In SLSNavigator SLS on Flickr

President 2.0

Publication Date: 
November 22, 2008
Source: 
Newsweek
Author: 
Daniel Lyons and Daniel Stone

Professor Lawrence Lessig is quoted in an article in Newsweek about the role the Internet and new media will play in Obama's presidency.

Barack Obama is the first major politician who really "gets" the Internet. Sure, Howard Dean used the Web to raise money. But Obama used it to build an army. And now, that army of digital kids expects to stick around and help him govern. Crowd-sourced online brainstorming sessions? Web sites where regular folks hash out policy ideas and vote yea or nay online? A new government computer infrastructure that lets people get a look into the workings of Washington, including where the money flows and how decisions get made? Yes to all those and more. "This was not just an election—this was a social movement," says Don Tapscott, author of "Grown Up Digital," which chronicles the lives of 20-somethings raised on computers and the Web. "I'm convinced," Tapscott says, "that we're in the early days of fundamental change in the nature of democracy itself."

...

Federal disclosure laws could further limit Obama's participation in all this new Internet activity. Statutes say that any official correspondence from the president becomes property of the office, not the man in it. The rules were drafted at a time when the president's sole communication was on paper, and there wasn't that much of it. But now, with things like e-mail and instant messaging, the most mundane messages from or to Obama would become government property, and much of it would eventually be accessible to the public under the Freedom of Information Act. For this reason, Obama earlier this month started to wean himself from his BlackBerry. If he wanted to, he could choose to keep it. But if he did, he'd have to acknowledge that a historian decades from now could study just how much time the president spent bantering with pals or gushing about the White Sox. "He'll be restricted by how much information about him will become public property," says Lawrence Lessig, founder of the Center for Internet and Society at Stanford. "This is an area where the statutes are far out of date for the current technology."