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WhiteHouse.gov, Drupal & CMS: A little history

government, Internet, politics, technology, Washington DC, White House 11 Comments

This past weekend, the Associated Press reported that the White House was moving to an open source content management system (CMS) known as Drupal. Many among the tech set have praised the move including Nancy Scola from techPresident who was among the first to write about the change in her post, WhiteHouse.gov goes Drupal. A good read.

White House adopts Drupal open source CMSFor those not familiar with what this actually means, a CMS is basically the back-end (not visible to visitors) of a website that allows the administrators (owners) of the site — often non-programmers — to easily organize site navigation and add content designed to appear on the front-end.

For most CMS solutions, the user experience is pretty simple, usually consisting of a password protected login, options for varied user permissions for approval and forms with specific fields based on type of content such as text, photos, audio and video. Once entered and saved, the CMS stores the information in the back-end database and displays the content on the front-end when called up by a site visitor.

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The Digital Battle Over Healthcare

E-Gov, government, Internet, politics, social media 2 Comments

Traditionally, August is supposed to be a little quieter in Washington, DC. Not so this summer with the current debates heating up over the future of the US economy, bailouts, healthcare reform and energy legislation.

The Internet is certainly playing a key role. In fact, YouTube may have officially reached its digital advocacy “tipping point” when a handful of videos were recently uploaded featuring flustered politicians struggling to answer tough healthcare questions during several Congressional town hall meetings.

White House Reality CheckMany Democrats in support of the bill have moved to characterize opponents as an organized, astroturfing, angry right wing mob. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) even went so far as to call the protests “un-American.” On the contrary, it was the SEIU who was caught on tape beating Kenneth Gladney, a black conservative activist who was on site selling “Don’t Tread on Me” buttons and flags at a Russ Carnahan rally in St. Louis, Missouri.

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Grading WhiteHouse.gov

E-Gov, social media, White House 5 Comments

Back in March, Jose Antonio Vargas from The Washington Post assembled a bipartisan group of five panelists to periodically review President Obama’s White House Website in a feature called “Grading WhiteHouse.gov.”

The group includes Craig Newmark of Craigslist.org; Andrew Rasiej, founder of the Personal Democracy Forum; Ellen Miller from the Sunlight Foundation; Jon Henke, a consultant and blogger for The Next Right; and David Weinberger, a fellow at Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

WhiteHouse.govDue to the overwhelming response to the first column, Jose decided to add a guest reviewer for “Grading WhiteHouse.gov, Round Two,” which was posted earlier this week — and I was honored that he thought of me. Of course, he did indicate that he wasn’t going to be able to print my entire thoughts, but agreed to allow me to post them here.

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Defending Dot Govs

Campaign 2008, E-Gov, White House 3 Comments

Politics Online Conference 2008This week, a few hundred convened to attend the 2-day Politics Online Conference 2008 hosted by the  Institute for Politics Democracy and the Internet (IPDI) at the Renaissance Hotel in Washington, DC. 

On Day 2, I had the pleasure of participating on the Morning Plenary panel sponsored by POLITICO entitled, “White House 2.0.”  We discussed how the Internet, which has been so prevalent in the current presidiential race, will possibly change how a future administration will govern.

The panel, moderated by Ari Schwartz, Center for Democracy and Technology included Sunlight Foundation Executive Director Ellen Miller, former U.S. Congressman Rick White of the Wood Bay Group and Tom Steinberg from the UK’s mySociety.org.

It was a very lively discussion where a number of innovative ideas for citizen activist and engagement websites were shared – but, in my opinion, most would be best managed outside the official dot gov arena.  There are a number of current restrictions and regulations that govern federal government sites that may provide some barriers to participation. 

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