Today Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States. As several million people attended the inauguration in Washington D.C., Facebook and CNN invited the rest of the world to watch the moment online. Online visitors to CNN.com were able to use its video player to watch the live broadcast coverage of the event. We also saw what has be one of the most brilliant examples of the real-time web in action: next to the video, the Facebook status updates of those watching streamed by in the sidebar.

The integration of the status updates on CNN.com Live was powered by Facebook Connect, Facebook's relatively new platform for porting your online identity anywhere on the web. When a web site uses Facebook Connect, visitors can easily authenticate on that site using their Facebook account information - no need for a separate username and password. Besides simply being convenient, it allows people to log on as their "real" selves, a trend that perhaps speaks to the beginning of the end of online anonymity.

If there was any doubt of the power this platform provides, we've just witnessed an incredible - if not historic - example of what it can do. President Obama's inauguration is sure to knock Facebook Connect ahead of its main competitor in the realm of portable social identities, Google Friend Connect, whose current claim to fame is a blog widget that does little more than the falling-from-grace Yahoo's MyBlogLog widget does now, save for some over-hyped integration with social services like Twitter, Plaxo, and Orkut.

In the end, not only did Facebook Connect provide an interactive look into the thoughts and feelings of all those watching CNN's coverage via the web - it did so without crashing. According to the statistics, there were 200,000+ status updates, which equaled out to 3,000 people commenting on the Facebook/CNN feed per minute. Right before Obama spoke, that number grew to 8500. Additionally, Obama's Facebook Fan Page has more than 4 million fans and more than 500,000 wall posts. (We wonder if anyone on his staff will ever read all those!).

CNN didn't do too badly either. They broke their total daily streaming record, set earlier on Election Day, and delivered 5.3 million streams. Did you have trouble catching a stream? We didn't hear of any issues, but if you missed out, you can watch it again later today. CNN will replay the live video at 3 PM,  5 PM,  9 PM, and 12 midnight (EST) on cnn.com/video.

For more political coverage as it relates to the web, see also our post from last night 7 Online Things You Can Do to Help Obama Restore America.