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« Barack Obama, will you tap the groundswell? | Main | A few nice links »

November 07, 2008

Tell Obama to embrace the groundswell. Now.

by Josh Bernoff

Thanks_for_sharing We told Barack Obama to tap the groundswell. He's getting there. Already, the his transition team's Web site is up at change.gov.

Is it social? Not yet. It contains outgoing information. And it solicits your feedback. But when you tell President-Elect Obama your vision for America, your suggestion goes . . . well, I don't know where it goes. You type it in and then get the "thanks for sharing" message shown here. Will they just pick the ones they like and republish them?

Embracing applications like mystarbucksidea.com require two things to be successful. 1. everyone needs to see all the ideas. And 2. the organization has to respond -- tell what it is going to do (or not do) about the ideas.

So here's what I want you to do. Right now, go to this Web site: http://www.change.gov/page/s/yourvision. Enter your personal information. And when it asks for your vision, enter your own version of something like this.

Mr. Obama, in my vision for America, the government is responsive to the needs of citizens. Social technologies make this possible. You were very effective in mobilizing those technologies to help get you elected. Now it's time to use them to get your ideas from real Americans.

So here's what you should do. Publish all the ideas that people enter on this site. Allow us all to vote for them. And then tell us, directly, what you are going to do to address the ones that are most popular, or the best.

You have created a movement. Will you listen to the people who elected you? We'll be watching.

Remember, this will be most effective if you enter it in your own words. Let's see what happens!


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Rick Burnes

Josh -- Nice post. I'm on my way over to change.gov to do exactly what you say.

I think it's actually a good sign that change.gov is a little thin at launch. I hope it means the Obama folks are trying to release early and often: don't expect it to be perfect the first time, just get something up, gather feedback, and iterate.

Jeannie Walters

I totally agree. I was impressed, however, with the way the site INVITES your thoughts. A better version would include a ranking and voting system. Stakes (and expectations) are super high right now. The site, in all its clean and simply glory, is already a breath of fresh air!


Great idea. I'm doing it. Thanks!

Jeremiah Owyang

Good call to action, you convinced me!

Despite the website not being two way in a public manner I was intrigued to see that there was an energizing feature to 'invite ones' friends


Marcus Nelson

Josh --

In the same spirit as mystarbucksidea.com - we created a site that does the same thing: http://obamachangefor.us

Would love for Change.gov to take it over, as they'd probably be the best home for embracing user input.

Marcus Nelson

Debbie Curtis-Magley

Glad to see this topic addressed. Like you, I was curious to see how Obama would leverage social media after the election. His campaign showed that it was a game-changing element.

Josh Bernoff

Have a look at UserVoice's http://change.uservoice.com/ to see how this can work. (Thanks for the tip, Marcus.)

I'd still like Obama to embrace it himself, but now we can see how it should work.

Marcus Nelson

Thank you for the mention Josh -- we agree this should be coming from Obama's camp, which if someone from Change.gov is reading this, please contact us.

Also of note, a group of Republicans have also started a similar ideas page: http://ideas.rebuildtheparty.com/

Once again, thank you for the post.

Marcus Nelson

Blog Picture

It's a long way to go. Many practical details shall be cleared before we can see the real effect. Election promise must be examined by the following actions.

Jackie Huba

Great series of posts!

I was encouraged to see that Obama will be using YouTube to do the weekly address to the nation: http://tinyurl.com/6asc7k

Petty Vices

Love it. Following instructions. Thanks for the suggested letter framework!


It's a nice idea, to have citizens rank & vote online for policies the government should implement but I think there are some constitutional elements that would prevent this from working. In representative democracy everyone should be able to vote, however there are still people that don't use the computer/internet in the way some of us do. The response you'd would surely be biased and not representative in a lot of ways.

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