more noteworthy than the website itself is what the Obama team is signaling with its launch. It isn’t coincidental that Obama is addressing health care in this type of forum. During the campaign, he was repeatedly critical of the closed nature of negotiations during the Clinton-era push for health care reform. Already, he seems to be trying to make the public a shareholder in the process.
it might be the first sign of canalization of the energy of the communities created during the campaign. It is a new way of creating a constituency that supports a reform of the policies this new administration wants to change. Obama, in my opinion, has an open view of the way he wants to make policy decisions. He is not fundamentalist about ideology, though he has strong principles and values. He doesn’t believe he is always right; instead he sees the truth lying out there among the people being recreated continuously. The Internet allows this truth to be shared, reconstructed and communicated to those that have the capacity to take decisions. He and his administration will set the agenda and take the path that adapts better to what they think is right, but it will be an informed and participative decision. This information and participation won’t come anymore from an exclusive group of people (i.e. lobbyists and powerful constituencies), but from many different quarters of society, which will be empowered by the Internet. By allowing this, he is also empowering himself, for he will have the public and expressed support of those that are participating in this new way of doing politics.
Alejandro Ribo-Labastida, DPhil student, Oxford Internet Institute