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Obama Launches Web Site to Reach Public
Barack Obama had a formidable online presence during his quest for the White House, and he is once again turning to the Internet to communicate with the American public as president-elect.
Within 24 hours of last week's historic vote, his transition team rolled out change.gov, a Web site that promises to be "your source for the latest news, events and announcements so that you can follow the setting up of the Obama administration."
The site is still a little thin on content, but there's a blog, a newsroom and a countdown to the January 20 inauguration.
Visitors can fill out a form to share their stories about what the election meant to them, or they can give their vision of an Obama presidency. They can even apply for a job.
The Web site is an extension of Obama's online strategy during the campaign.
As a candidate, he had four times as many friends as his Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, on MySpace.com. Obama had almost 3 million supporters on Facebook and put together a massive database of e-mail addresses -- some 10 million.
Obama even announced Sen. Joe Biden as his choice for vice president in a text message to supporters.
People who follow Obama online have become a community that the president-elect can tap into, said Andrew Raseij, founder of TechPresident.com, a Web site that tracked the online operations of the 2008 presidential campaigns.
"He now has his own special interest. He has a group of people he can go to and ask them to participate in helping him pass his legislative agenda," Raseij said.
He also predicted that Obama will use online video and interactivity to revolutionize the way the commander in chief communicates.
"I think the days of just a Saturday morning radio address and an occasional press conference as the way the president speaks to the American public are over," Raseij said.
"I wouldn't be surprised if Barack Obama starts doing a weekly YouTube video and also fireside chats for the 21st century by allowing people to filter up questions to him that he might answer."
The president-elect already has said he'll have a five-day online comment period before signing any nonemergency legislation, so Americans can be part of the process.
He's also planning to appoint a chief technology officer and has pledged to get true broadband to every community in the country.
Obama's embrace of the Internet during his presidential campaign came as Americans increasingly turned to online sources to get election news.
A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found 33 percent got most of their 2008 campaign news from the Internet, compared with 10 percent in 2004.
The same survey found almost half of Americans ages 18 to 29 turned to the Internet as their major source of election news in 2008. Seventeen percent of people in this age group turned to newspapers.