consultant at Deloitte, said he sees Obama's broadband initiative as part of a larger infrastructure improvement project, a la President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal. Only this time, the government will hire as many people to lay fiber as pour concrete.

"I think [building out rural broadband] is going to be very important to this administration," Skowron said. "There's a general consensus that there will be more infrastructure spending. In the technology age, it may look different than the FDR infrastructure spending of solely bridges and highways. You could start to see spending within infrastructure from an IT perspective -- next-generation networks, expanding broadband, looking at cyber-security," Skowron explained. "I think technology is going to play a vital role in federal government, and that will certainly trickle down and permeate in the state and local space."

Financial woes aside, even ardent Bush supporters would probably agree his administration hasn't been terribly forthcoming. Obama seized on that during his campaign and promised, as part of his infrastructure plans, a new era of government openness that, much like expanding broadband, will help the rest of his technology plans move from campaign crowd-pleasers to reality.

"One of the things Obama had said was he wanted to create a chief performance officer and a performance team," said Anthony McKinney, public security director at SAP. "With the way we see decreasing resources, because he is IT savvy, he can help by leveraging all the technology initiatives and making sure that when they get implemented in the states, the states get rewarded from that performance-management perspective."

 

MyBarack, MyState, MyLocal

One core strength of Obama's presidential campaign was its expansion and innovative use of Web 2.0 tools for fundraising, energizing the Democratic Party base and Election Day "get out the vote" efforts. The campaign enthusiastically embraced new media -- online social networking, Twitter, YouTube, etc. -- and most observers believe it was a key advantage that propelled Obama to victory over McCain.

Of course, Obama also enjoyed advantages in both donors and total fundraising, banking about $745 million during the campaign from nearly 4 million contributors. Many of those donors also signed up on the campaign's social network MyBarackObama.com, giving the president-elect a built-in legion of committed supporters whom he could call upon when attempting to push his legislative agenda through Congress.

Exactly how Obama would mobilize such an effort is unclear, and it's too soon to tell if his online support structure could lead to a new way forward for politics -- and furthermore, if such an apparatus would someday trickle down to state and local lawmakers.

What's clear is that Obama believes that the "democratization of data" will guide a new way forward. Yes, Obama is seemingly a technophile -- he is reportedly addicted to his BlackBerry and will also be the first sitting U.S. president to simulcast his weekly radio address on YouTube. But there are larger issues at hand. Obama's support of Net neutrality and his legislative backing of USAspending.gov, a Web site that tracks federal spending on contracts, grants and other expenditures, could signal that technology will play a more prominent role in government and governance.

But how exactly will Obama achieve "change?" Some observers believe that it will come through "user-generated government," which is a buzzword for applications that are developed and created by public citizens using data that is released openly by the government.

"I was surprised when I first read about his technology policy that [Obama] seemed to be a candidate and a campaign that seemed to be much more 'with it' than politicians I've seen in the past," said Tim Koelkebeck, one of the developers who created iLive.at, an

Chad Vander Veen  |  Associate Editor
Matt Williams  |  Associate Editor