Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Obama YouTubes and Techies Swoon (BoomTown Will Only Do So When There Is a National Broadband Policy)

Is it just me or does the fact that President-Elect Barack Obama is broadcasting his weekly address on YouTube not seem like it should be the very biggest deal in the world?

Still, when an article in the Washington Post reported late last week that he would put his weekly Democratic address online in video–on YouTube and his own transition site, Change.gov–as well as the regular radio, the squeals from tech were louder than at a mall appearance by the Zac Efron of “High School Musical.”

While it is a first for the Commander-in-Chief, I am more depressed that it is a first–after all, skateboarding cats made it to YouTube eons ago–than utterly thrilled that he is doing it.

But, when it come to the glacial movement related to politicians and tech issues, disappointment seems to be a better stance than hope.

I could begin with the fact that the U.S. has poor broadband and wireless coverage compared with most comparable nations (Softbank’s Masa Son once told me in an interview that this country was the “third world of broadband”).

Ironically, the price of high-speed access ranks at the top, by really gross margins.

Or that the federal government remains unfocused on a number of important digital issues, from immigration to privacy to net neutrality.

Perhaps because of his more obvious use of Internet tools, from communicating to supporters to raising money to targeting voters, Obama has felt like the first true Internet candidate, well beyond the ultimately unsuccessful inroads made by Howard Dean in 2004.

And now with even more YouTube videos, the Twitters, a much more interactive Web site at Change.gov and, best of all, the possible appointment of a CTO for America, it has been a general lovefest that the Obama presidency has engendered from the Internet community, simply for the focus the sector is now getting.

And more interactive communications are promised, such as regular video interviews with senior members of the Obama administration.

“This is just one of many ways that he will communicate directly with the American people and make the White House and the political process more transparent,” spokeswoman Jen Psaki said to the Washington Post.

It’s not that BoomTown does not think this is a great thing, but to me, this kind of transparent communication should be as normal as it has become throughout the rest of society as a matter of course.

Also, it would be nice if the Obama videos were also distributed on many other video services besides YouTube, which is the largest, but owned by Google (GOOG), whose CEO Eric Schmidt is a prominent supporter of the new administration.

Still, the four-minute video that Obama released yesterday is a good first step, along with a previous one from transition Co-Chairman Valerie Jarrett, who recorded a two-minute video earlier in the week.

Both are below:

President-Elect Barack Obama

Transition Co-Chairman Valerie Jarrett


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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work