On Putting a President's Democratic Address on Youtube


Obama is now putting his weekly Democratic address on youtube.  That is pretty neat, but I want to inject a slight note of skepticism as to how important it really is.

What's innovative and interesting about political technology is not that the President-elect can use it, but that it allows for different social arrangements and ways of using power.  What's interesting about youtube is that it lets anyone have access to a TV channel.  The President-elect already has access to a real TV channel.  The essence of a social change via technology is that it will allow citizens to group with each other to speak to elected leadership in interesting ways, not that it allows yet another mechanism for a powerful President to address citizens.  I mean, many of Bush's addresses were put on youtube without him having an account, but that's not innovative, it's just what happens when the internet is mainstream.

What Obama is doing by putting various speeches on youtube has been done before with more interesting twists.  Foreign leaders put their addresses on youtube; Tony Blair congratulated his French colleague Nicolas Sarkozy upon his election over youtube, in both French an English.  It would be interesting if other foreign leaders responded to Obama on youtube, and that could potentially be exciting depending on what results. 

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