It was interesting to turn to the Ideas section of today’s Boston Globe where freelance writer, Matthew Battles, compared the Obama and Bush administration’s design of the WHITEHOUSE.gov website, Extreme Makeover WHITEHOUSE.GOV EDITION. My last blog entry on the inauguration recommended that teachers use the new site as a way to teach the basic principles of Web 2.0 to their students. Let’s examine a few more design features that make the site worthy of study. Click on the picture for a larger view.
1) The main toolbar cleverly conceals plenty of content with submenus that popup when your mouse cursor hovers over them.
2) Simply type in your email and push the Get Updates button to automatically receive emails whenever new content it uploaded.
3) Displaying a rotating stack of pictures is a popular technique to share content without forcing users to click through tabs. Only four featured headlines is just right in my opinion.
4) That little RSS icon may be small, but it’s quite powerful. Saving this feed to your browser means that updates come to you as soon as they post to WhiteHouse.gov.
5) Search is definitely the center of attention. It invites users to the content.
6) Leaving these “breadcrumbs” help users know exactly where they are. Spread some breadcrumbs by visiting a few pages.
The inauguration of Barack Obama on January 20, 2009 promises to usher in a 21st century overhaul of the United States government. I was fortunate to have attended the inaugural ceremonies with what was estimated to be a crowd of over 1.8 million people. While standing with my fellow citizens in what can only be described as a scene reminiscent of March of the Penguins, we huddled together for over four hours in sub freezing temperatures on the National Mall. Spirits of course were high and everyone just made the best of the situation. There has been plenty of talk of the 21st century lately, from the need to transform every area of our society from energy to education, and oh yes, financial regulations. Let’s use Wordle to examine President Obama’s inaugural address. [Learn more about Wordle from a previous post] The most frequent words used in President Obama’s address were Nation, America, New, Must, and Every denoted by the larger font sizes in the image. The phrase “21st Century” was not spoken in President Obama’s address. Visit the new White House dot gov website to view the transcript and watch a streaming video of his speech. The inaugural address page actually contains two of three of what I like to remind teachers are the big three when it comes to Web 2.0. — Blogs and YouTube — the third being a Wiki. The address is posted as a blog entry and contains a streaming video similar to those found on YouTube. WhiteHouse.gov has even gone one step further allowing anyone to download and save a high quality mp4 version of the video. Great for teachers and students who may be interested in creating multimedia presentations. While the blog does not have the ability for readers to post and share comments, I’m sure that will evolve in the near future. If you are new to the Web 2.0 world it might be interesting to monitor WhiteHouse.gov over the next several months to see how it grows into a fully mature 21st century communication infrastructure.
Now back to the Washington Mall… One of the hallmarks of the Web 2.0 world is the ubiquitous nature of digital recording and communication devices. Unlike our penguin brethren, we occupied our time texting, calling friends and family on the cell phone, and taking pictures and videos while we waited for the ceremony to begin. My inauguration photo slideshow was created using Adobe’s Photoshop.com. Photos were uploaded using a free account, added to an album, and then I copied and pasted the embed code into this blog post. Photography sharing sites like Photoshop.com and Flickr are the life blood of creating media rich blogs. As we learned on the WhiteHouse.gov site, sharing video is another good way to communicate. Watch the citizen penguin’s stir as they watch Obama take the presidential oath of office. The embedded video recorded using a FlipVideo camera streams from Google video NOT YouTube so it should work in school districts that block YouTube. How can Web 2.0 transform the American Government? Hey teachers, does this sound like a neat student project?