President Obama’s new website


Motherjones has a note on the new Whitehouse website. I point out some additional information of a new contract with America.

An off-line Obama isn’t just bad for Barack. It’s bad for all of us. The president’s ability to reach outside his inner circle gives him access to fresh ideas and constructive critics; it underscores the difference between political “victories” and actual solutions; and it brings the American people into a battle we can only win by working together.

I hope Obama can take the attitude Podesta has about his BlackBerry and apply it throughout government. Making more than just a place for press releases and photo ops would be a great place to start. How about bringing the transition’s “Open for Questions” feature over to the new site? Just asking…

Update: I’m not the only one noticing the changes. Over at Slate, Farhad Manjoo notes that Obama plans to keep a crucial campaign promise: posting non-emergency legislation on the White House website for five days and allowing (and reviewing) comments. Manjoo also noticed some bugs: “A flashy slide show of past presidents fails to include anyone past Gerald Ford” and “when you Google George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, FDR, or any other past president, you get now-broken links to their bios on the White House site.” Let’s hope the White House webmasters get all that fixed—we wouldn’t want FDR falling in those Google ratings.

Update 2: Speaking of Google ratings, Jason Kottke points to the new website’s robots.txt file, which tells search engines what parts of the site to include in results, as “a small and nerdy measure of the huge change in the executive branch of the US government today.” The Bush administration’s version of the robots.txt file had 2400 lines of code for what it didn’t want people finding on Google. The Obama administration has one.

Update: On the robot.txt hat tip Kolohe

Declan McCullagh points out in CNET:

There’s just one problem with these comments. They’re wrong. As of Tuesday morning, the Bush administration’s robots.txt file did only two things: first, it pointed search engines to the high-graphics versions of the page, as opposed to the text-only versions, and second, it tried to keep type-in-your-search-query pages from being indexed.