Tech & The District » 2.0 Tech the way we see it: insights and musings on technology PR, policy and the District, from H&K’s D.C. Tech Team. Thu, 04 Aug 2011 15:06:44 +0000 en hourly 1 On the Agenda Tue, 29 Sep 2009 20:59:22 +0000 Lindsay Campbell September 29, 2009 – PRSA Webinar – Digital Marketing: The Shift of Advertising and the Creative Renaissance

September 29, 2009 – Health 2.0 – Discussing the use of Web 2.0 at the FDA and in local Healthcare

September 29, 2009 – GrowSmartBiz Conference with Wired’s Chris Anderson

September 30, 2009 – DC Media Makers Meetup

September 30, 2009 – Climate Legislation in the U.S. Senate: Will there Be a Bill this Year?  What Will it Look Like?

October 1, 2009 – ZapForum DC: SOA & EA Networking Event

October 8, 2009 – Energy and Natural Resources Hearing

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Tech in 5: BusinessWeek’s Steve Wildstrom Tue, 05 May 2009 20:36:55 +0000 Sharla Lane While known to some, Washington is home to not only the first digital president but also some fairly passionate Web and technology enthusiasts and writers. Staying true to our mission to help bring the local DC tech scene to life, Tech & The District has launched a new video series to showcase some of our best-known talent. For our premier episode, we thought we’d lead off with one of our favorites: BusinessWeek columnist Steve Wildstrom dishes his perspective on tech trends for ‘09, the role of government in technology, DC tourism and more in this first installment of Tech in 5.

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First Hand Account of Tech in the Obama Age: From the Campaign Trail to the White House Fri, 13 Mar 2009 20:35:42 +0000 Vanessa Truskey

A screenshot of the new White House web site

A screenshot of the new White House web site

Tech & The District is pleased to present its first contributing blogger, Liz Purchia!  Liz, a Public Affairs team member at Hill & Knowlton in D.C., left to join the Obama campaign in the summer of 2008.  She offers her thoughts on technology during the campaign and what it will bring to The District.  Enjoy!  -Vanessa

First Hand Account of Tech in the Obama Age: From the Campaign Trail to the White House

As a campaign staffer on the ground in Iowa during the general election, I saw firsthand the strong role grassroots organizing plays in communities across America, particularly in rural areas.  I was in charge of Muscatine County and when I needed to meet with my supporters and volunteers, who often lived 30 miles away from each other, I relied on the online social network the Obama digital teams built. outweighed John McCain’s site by leaps and bounds.  The Web site’s features allowed viewers to personalize their own site on (similar to Facebook), to join online groups with people who shared their same interests.  Groups like Sportsmen for Obama or Women for Obama grew to the thousands.  Without leaving home, supporters could post events in their community, call voters, produce canvassing lists.  I even had volunteers in Massachusetts using the website to call voters in Iowa, updating them on voting laws and encouraging them to vote.

The digital team headquartered in Chicago was supported by in-state digital teams that worked with field organizers to help complement their work regionally.  Based on our feedback and ideas, the site would transform to improve accessibility and ability to reach out to constituents.

No political campaign has seen anything like what President Obama did.  As the saying goes “imitation is the best form of flattery.”  His Web site is a model for others to use.  The campaign Web site of Benjamin Netanyahu, who ran for prime minister of Israel, is eerily similar to Obama’s.  I would even go so far as to say took tips from Obama.

From the first day after the election, a new White House Web site was up and running and completely revamped.  It’s as user-friendly as the campaign site.  There were full digital staffs for the Transition and the Presidential Inaugural Committee, which was only a positive sign for what’s to come.

As a member of the Public Affairs team in Washington, D.C., I often monitored the Web sites of Members of Congress and the different departments.  Looking back now, others have taken a cue from the Obama handbook and are improving their sites. and are just the beginning of the tech advances in government.  Technology will allow the Obama administration to be the most open and accessible administration in history.

Grassroots organizing will always be a central component to political campaigns, but the ability to use technology and social networking tookfield operations to a whole different level, which will only continue to be refined and improved.

If the administration’s use of technology is done anything like the campaign, I have HOPE our country will turn itself around.

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Open House Not Just White Noise Part 2 Wed, 18 Feb 2009 22:32:40 +0000 Saskia Stegeman Following up on my blog posting last week, it seems like more commentators are starting to raise questions about the Obama’s administration commitment to openness and the ways they are going about it.

In the FT’s Tech Blog today, Richard Waters questioned the White House’s handling of the public discussion around the stimulus package run on the White House’s web site, pointing to the complicated long-winded procedure for commenting and noting that it had the hallmarks of a one-way conversation because there was no way to see anybody else’s comments and more importantly there were no indications about how the comments got read, processed and ultimately what will get done with them.

In the New York Times Bits Blog on Tuesday, Saul Hansell, raised similar concerns about the Obama campaign engaging in a one-way conversation, focusing on the web site which went live earlier this week and was created to monitor spending on the stimulus package, proclaiming itself to be “…the main vehicle to provide each and every citizen with the ability to monitor the progress of the recovery.”

As Hansell notes, creating a meaningful track and response system is extremely complicated.  New media is generating interesting new opportunities for public engagement in politics but managing those conversations, filtering them and acting on them so that they become meaningful is challenging.  In many ways this is still a developing terrain since the explosive growth in social networking and other web 2.0 tools is a recent phenomenon.

The Obama administration has the potential to be pioneers in this area but if they really want to break new ground they have to innovate and develop tools that promote real dialogue and openness. If they fail to do so, their efforts in this area will lose credibility and will mainly be seen as propaganda tools.

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Open House Not Just White Noise Fri, 13 Feb 2009 14:58:24 +0000 Saskia Stegeman Earlier this week, I had my first browse through the White House Web site and thought it was a good signal of how the new Obama administration is likely to change the way the White House communicates to the American public.


The active integration of new media tools is not surprising given how the Obama campaign harnessed communications technology and social media  from the start , although adapting to White House infrastructure has posed some challenges – as Obama spokesman Bill Burton told the Washington Post, it was “….kind of like going from an Xbox to an Atari.”


In addition to regular background information, press releases, statements and agenda items the site features a blog which is frequently updated and links to Obama’s weekly video address.  Most interestingly perhaps, the Web site lists the White House agenda on key policy issues such as economics, healthcare and technology. This promotes transparency and holds the administration accountable to what they set out to do and in some cases contains some very tangible metrics, particularly in the area of energy and the environment.


A key objective on President Obama’s technology agenda is to “… ensure the full and free exchange of information through an open Internet and use technology to create a more transparent and connected democracy”  and the administration seems to be taking active steps in that direction.


But a comment made by a friend who is a foreign correspondent here during a recent dinner party also got me thinking about a potential flip-side to this development. He said that he had found the Obama campaign and, to date, the Obama administration, less accommodating towards the press than the Bush administration or other campaigns, and attributed it to the fact that they weren’t as reliant on journalists to reach key target audiences. 


The growth of online communication tools is having a dramatic impact on the media landscape as all of us working in the field can see. This can lead to new and exciting opportunities for those of us working in PR, as Bill McIntyre of Grassroots Enterprise noted in a recent article that was published in PR Week.  However, in a democratic society, the press plays an important role in maintaining balance between state, business and societal interest – in part by asking tough questions and filtering information. Care must be taken to safeguard that role.


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Week in Events: February 2-8, 2009 Tue, 03 Feb 2009 16:08:54 +0000 Sharla Lane Our new administration is headlining the news every night and the events in DC this week reflect the regulatory aura.  Learn the legalities surrounding communication materials on intellectual property or just sit in on the hearing to nominate the next CIA director. If you would rather take a break from governmental issues, stop by the DC Search Engine Optimization February Meet-up for digital advice that will cost you a whole dollar.

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Week in Events: January 26-February 1, 2009 Mon, 26 Jan 2009 21:49:00 +0000 Sharla Lane Come
join the H&K tech team as we endure the snowy weather for
discussions centered around the ever-advancing digital world. Guest
speakers from the Washington Post and BusinessWeek
will be joining other esteemed DC panelists to share their views on
advances in technology from health care to social media. We should have
some great insights to share after attending some of these events, so
stay tuned.

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No IM’ing Friends from The White House Fri, 23 Jan 2009 20:26:00 +0000 Vanessa Truskey Those of us who can’t imagine what it was like to do business before the invention of the cell phone or BlackBerry wouldn’t want to be working at the White House this week.   The Washington Post reported yesterday that when President Obama’s new staff showed up for work, they found the place in technology shambles.  No Facebook (gasp) or IM.  This just won’t do for the folks who defined social networking in political campaigns.  A few days after delighting that he’ll get to keep his BlackBerry, his staff finds itself using Gmail accounts to communicate, instead of that oh-so-coveted “” extension.  I’ve got to imagine security firms nationwide are taking notice: there is a group of young, tech-savvy staffers in the White House now, and an even more fervent American public anxious to read about President Obama’s every move via Twitter, who need secure ways to communicate which aren’t hack-able or phish-able.  Get to work security firms.  Yes you can.

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Week in Events: January 12-18, 2009 Mon, 12 Jan 2009 23:01:00 +0000 Sharla Lane In honor of the 44th
President of the United States, this week’s events are politically
charged. A cyber security breakfast chat and an evening at Macy’s
observing a fashion show inspired by Inauguration Day are just two
examples of how Obamarama has taken over the city. If you know of
something else going on that you think should be on this list, feel
free to add it in your comment to this blog.

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D.C. 2.0? Wed, 17 Dec 2008 22:09:00 +0000 duncanburns Web 2.0. A much used term, but one which many communicators
are still trying to grapple with – knowing they need to embrace it, but not
sure how. Knowing that this is the future, but not sure how to persuade internal
colleagues and executives that the potential risk is worth the potential reward
just yet. I thought this WSJ article was a pretty good primer for marketers.

Increasingly those of us in PR are seeing “traditional”
journalists producing more and more for their organizations’ web outlets, not
just the “hard copy”. They’re establishing brands online and are finding their
feet with it. What’s their beat, how do they cover their beat while also
ensuring they’re producing enough online content – where hits are tracked by
their editors, where salary is often affected by the number of people reading
their story. When media companies like the Tribune are going into bankruptcy,
one can’t really see the trend towards measurement abating. Can you?

We’ve seen a lot of this in Tech PR, just look at some of
the sites we’ve linked to on the left of this page. But I wonder what impact
the arrival of a new, famously web-enabled, Administration will have on how DC
journalists ply their trade – online and offline? Beyond blogging, I wonder how
they will engage in the two way dialogue that is the hallmark of web 2.0. And
what then happens those first few times when it’s the not “right” sort of
response? How will the government respond when there’s less protection in the
polls and as tough choices start to have an impact? Much more to come on this
topic, but I think it’s going to be a fascinating story to watch in 2009.

What do you think will happen with D.C 2.0? Or is that just all too much hype?

p.s. Congratulations to our Pro Bowls Skins! And Happy
Holidays all!

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