On Tuesday, January 20th, 2009, America and the whole world will gather to watch Barack Obama be inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States of America. Many have called Mr. Obama the Internet Presidentbecause of the unprecedented way his campaign used the medium to raise funds, raise awareness, and ultimately outmaneuver John McCain. But what can we do now to help turn this country around? Read on for 7 things every one of us can do on the Internet to help Obama restore America.
As Obama rolls into a very tough job to restore America, it is very clear that the Internet is going to be the #1 channel for read/write communication with the people. Change.gov not only features an elegant design, but has useful content that connects you to the President-Elect and solicits your opinion and ideas. And the seemingly small things like the iPhone application or support of OpenID and Creative Commons show that people on Obama’s team are intimately familiar with the latest technologies and trends on the web.
If Obama and his team are going to use the Internet to help change America, so should we. The Internet is the most powerful information technology ever invented, and it has already changed the way we elect the President of the United States. Next, it just may help us restore America to its true self. How? One person at a time, starting with you and then passing it along. Here are 7 things you can do on the Internet to help President Obama turn this great country around.
1. Read About and Know the Issues
The least you can do is be aware. In this day and age, ignorance cannot be excused. All the information is out there, and whether you are Democrat or Republican or independent, the least you can do is find it. Maybe you prefer the Huffington Post or the New York Times or Fox News or CNN or independent local media; whatever your channel, spend at least 1 hour a week learning what is going on in America and around the world.
2. Join the Conversation
Obama is not a one-way president. If he was, he would never have assembled such a diverse, opinionated cabinet. Mr. Obama knows that our strength is in our diversity, and he wants to hear from you. We’ve been living in the age of the read/write web for the past 5+ years, and we have recently seen a decline in user participation. The time is now to re-engage, particularly around the conversation on how to turn this country around. You can directly help shape the future of America, one comment at a time. Find the blogs and online newspapers that you like and comment on the issues that matter.
3. Spread the News
The social explosion on the web created a wonderful way to disseminate news. Before, news was broadcast through centralized hubs; now, through Twitter, Facebook and other social networks, the news is spread by individuals. The implication is that your tweet matters. When you tweet news, it does not matter if it reaches thousands or dozens of people. What matters is that it reaches the people who want to hear the news from you. By spreading the news, you are leveraging our social fabric, helping the right information travel through the right channels.
4. Learn American History
To change the future, it is important to know the past. Even if you are well versed in American history, there is always more to learn. Learning history is both educational and patriotic. It is the subject that all of us should turn to in tough times. A good starting point is the Wikipedia page on American history, packed with links to historical figures and events. About.com features a whole subdomain dedicated to American history. You can find articles on subjects ranging from the Civil War to presidential elections to biographies. For more in-depth learning, head over to Kindle books on Amazon. Over four thousand books on American history come up.
5. Get Your Finances in Order
Let’s face it, the latest financial crisis is partially our fault. Sure, Wall Street execs were greedy and went too far, but so did we. Many people were not disciplined and lived beyond their means. If you haven’t yet, start using financial software such as Mint and Wesabe, and get your finances under control. Getting organized is the most important step to getting your finances in order. And like news dissemination, fixing the financial crisis is also done one person at a time.
6. Learn about Green Tech
The issues of global warming and green technologies are going to be at the forefront of Obama’s presidency. Yes, the current economic crisis and the needless war in Iraq are the issues of the day, but global warming and green tech are the issues for decades to come. The first step you need to take in 2009 is to educate yourself. What is this all about? What is my energy consumption? What are “green homes“? Which products are green? What is the state of the solar energy industry? The web is full of green tech information; you just need to pick a source to start learning. And for a deeper look at the profound issues facing us, read Thomas Friedmans’ Hot, Flat, and Crowded.
7. Engage Locally
There is one place where Obama needs your help more than anywhere else: your community. Federal government can’t reach out to each corner of America, and frankly, that is not its job. This is why you can really make a difference by engaging in local politics, buying regional produce, taking your kids to a local history museum. Every township is online these days. You can connect through the Internet and engage in local issues. From spring to fall, you can shop at your local farmers’ market, helping make things a little greener. Stepping up and doing just a little locally really goes a long way.
We are living in troubled yet exciting times. Electing Barack Obama was only a first step to turning America around. Now the tough work, the heavy lifting, begins. Mr. Obama is ready, but he needs your help. Take the time to think about things you can do on the Internet to help The Change. It’s patriotic, it is right, and it is a lot of fun. Ready? Let’s do this together!