2.0 View of President Obama’s Inaugural Speech

obama-inaugural-word-cloud

A word-cloud produced (quickly) by the Los Angeles Times.  Befiitting the social-media aspect, the paper published it on Twitter immediately; don’t know if it will even be published as a graphic in the day-old “newspaper” printed and distributed tomorrow.  The New York Times, meanwhile, has the same for every previous presidential inaugural address as well – interesting to scroll back and forth to notice trends in presidential intentions.

Which lines was I most struck by? Because of my national-security interests, I was taken by the strong, even muscular statement to terrorist foes: “You cannot outlast us and we will defeat you.”  That followed on his opening with a declarative statement that ““Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred.”

Information Week has already this afternoon called it the “First Web 2.0 Inauguration,” arguing that “Web 2.0technologies offered plenty of new experiences and communications tools for those witnessing the historic event.”

Some of the best set of mashups using cutting-edge technology, to my mind, are the photographs from media and members of the crowd on the Mall, being synthed into 3D Photosynth virtual models. Really cool!inaugural-photosynth

 

Twitter and other social-media services and channels appeared to hold up well under the crush of traffic. I was pleasantly surprised with the performance of Microsoft’s official streaming of the entire ceremony for the Presidential Inaugural Committee, using Silverlight (same technology was used really nicely for global streaming of the Summer Olympics last year).  In fact, the online streaming was markedly smoother than the ability of the TV networks to speak to reporters reliably down on the Mall – it appeared that network and cellular traffic was constantly cutting out on remote video and microphones.

A moving day, brought to more people than ever before through technology.

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My bold decision to withdraw from consideration as Obama’s CTO

To: President-Elect Barack Obama

From: Lewis Shepherd

RE: My Imminent Selection as Chief Technology Officer for the United States

Mr. President-Elect, I am hereby reluctantly but insistently withdrawing my name from consideration as your appointment to the newly created position of Chief Technology Officer for our nation.

No, no, please don’t try to persuade me otherwise. My decision is final.

Analysis: My earlier post about John Brennan being President-elect Obama’s “imminent” selection as CIA director is now a curio, given Brennan’s decision yesterday to withdraw from consideration. 

Like any good intelligence analyst writing a balanced assessment, I had included the caveat that the only thing standing between Brennan and the appointment was the likelihood of a last-minute political squabble or contretemps.

This being Washington we’re talking about, that is precisely what happened. 

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Healthcare: It’s the Data, Stupid

Fact: Today’s L.A. Times has a startling report: “A stunning number of people who work in healthcare settings lack paid sick time — as many as 75% of all home health aides, for example… Federal data indicate that as many as 29% of all workers in the ‘healthcare and social assistance’ job sector lack paid sick days. Healthcare employees who work while ill may end up hurting the people they are hired to help….”

Analysis: Mark Twain said the only two sure things in life were death and taxes.  So it’s no surprise that the two presidential campaigns are focusing on healthcare and the economy, since people are universally affected in personal ways.  Forget taxes for today, I’m interested in technology’s role in healthcare, which is growing, and there’s no more potentially game-changing facet of that than the role of data. 

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Social Networking in Egypt Takes a Political Turn

FACT: In the past two days, reporters for the Los Angeles Times and the Washington Post have each written accounts of the ongoing confrontation in Egypt between the government and online activists – the “Facebook Revolution” as the Post reporter terms it, hyperbolically. One interesting aspect: the two accounts are not carried as actual news stories in the “newspaper” (real or virtual), but as blog posts by the reporters on dedicated foreign-correspondent blogs. The Washington Post account is on the “PostGlobal” uber-blogsite, under Jack Fairweather’s “Islam’s Advance” blog, while the L.A. Times account is on the “Babylon & Beyond” blog, which carries a sub-head of “Observations from Iraq, Iran, Israel, the Arab World and Beyond.”

ANALYSIS: Up to now there’s been little coverage in traditional American media outlets of the emerging political tenor of some social networks in Egypt over the past several months. Major newspapers and the cable-news channels have not explored the topic, but I just returned from some time in Egypt and I learned that of course it is a widely covered and discussed topic there.  One young woman in her 30s, an urban professional, told me “I’m on Facebook all day long!”

Every morning outside my hotel room I would find an English-language newspaper, and for many days in a row it was a different paper – often because they were weekly editions.  That gave me the opportunity to read a variety of opinions from a somewhat broad band, as measured in “distance to/from the government position.”  

Helpfully, on May 6 2008 the Egyptian Mail included a summary of the raging controversy over Facebook, noting that “In Egypt, Facebook is the stage for the latest twist in the generation gap, playing host to politically hungry young Egyptians eager to take on their ageing leader.”  Only at the end of the article did I notice that it was reprinted from a New-York-based Egyptian blogger, the respected Mona Eltahawwy.

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Do Voters Love the Candidates… or their Fonts?

FACT:  John McCain, Hillary Clinton, and Barack Obama have chosen distinctively different typeface fonts for their campaign posters, bumper stickers, and TV-ad logos. 

font-gotham-obama.jpgObama uses sans serif Gotham.  McCain uses sans serif Optima. Only Clinton uses a serif, New Baskerville.  According to the Los Angeles Times yesterday, many typographers are following the usage choices closely, and now some political analysts are finding message in the medium; Obama’s choice is “the hot font of 2008,” Clinton’s font flourishes “conjure trustworthiness,” while McCain’s communicates an “old-fashioned yet quirky vibe.”

ANALYSIS:  Anyone who remembers their first experience with a personal computer’s word-processing program recalls that initial thrill when the realization hit: I can choose any font? I can choose any font!!!

Billions of funky emails, resumes, and yard-sale posters later, we’re all perhaps jaded by the profusion of font styles, and tend to have built up biases and defenses regarding certain looks.

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