A State of the Union address delivered the open source way?

No readers like this yet.
Open government


This evening, United States President Barack Obama will be delivering the annual State of the Union address at 9pm EST (if you want to learn more about the tradition of the State of the Union address in the United States, the White House has put together a nice video about the history and making of it here).

The president's staff is trying out an interesting concept during tonight's address. Here is an excerpt from an email sent out this afternoon with the details:

This year we're trying something new.  As President Obama addresses the Nation, we'll offer a companion stream of visual aids, including charts and quick stats about what’s happening in the country.  You can view this feature at WhiteHouse.gov/SOTU.

Immediately following the speech, stay tuned for our live Open for Questions event with policy experts from the White House answering your questions about key issues in the speech.

They've branded the event with the slogan "Watch & Engage" and have planned a whole week of events where citizens can participate in interactive sessions with government officials including President Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebellus, and many others.

I'll be interested to see how this plays out. Over the past two years, I've been excited to see many attempts within the US government to increase transparency, improve sharing of information, and create better forums for citizen collaboration. I've also seen examples where transparency, openness, and engagement are more spin than substance.

Which will this be? I'll have to stay by my computer tonight and find out. If you decide to do the same, please feel free to share your experiences and opinions.

User profile image.
Chris Grams is the Head of Marketing at Tidelift and author of The Ad-Free Brand: Secrets to Building Successful Brands in a Digital World. Twitter LinkedIn Email: chris(at)tidelift.com


It's about time that the "little people" like ourselves can ask questions in a somewhat live setting, although I'm sure the questions that are "aired" are limited to the ones that they want people to ask.

My heart lept highest during the segment about Opening Datasets, government information, and unprecedented transparency. In the words of one of our Luminaries "Many eyes make any bug shallow."

But my heart strangely sank when the issue of internet access was brought up. This is strange--downright backwards to me--as this was historically one of the issues that excited me most as someone coming of age during the information age. On the screen a map of 98% of Americans having access to the internet would used to have filled me with hope and represent "The free market of ideas." This map now looks to me more like a captive market at the mercy of colluding industries. In light of the recent DOJ approval of the Comcast/NBC Merger, coupled with <a href="http://www.pcworld.com/businesscenter/article/217312/verizon_challenges_fcc_net_neutrality_authority.html">Verizon's contesting the FCC's authority to ensure net neutrality</a> (and weakened watered down net neutrality at that)--I am hard pressed to believe this issue is being recognized as a real priority and public good it needs to be.

What good is 98% of the country being online, if the open nature of the internet, and freedoms of expression are subject to deep packet inspection that amounts to tiered (read::segregated) second class digital citizenship?

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.