Unified Communications Featured Article

1 Million to Watch Obama Inauguration via Facebook-CNN.com

January 19, 2009

We’re been reading a lot lately about the problems that officials are anticipating as millions gather in Washington, D.C. tomorrow for the inauguration ceremony of President-elect Barack Obama: wireless network congestion, crowd control, Beltway traffic and security.

One major story that emerged on Election Day-plus-one was how the Illinois Democrat leveraged technology as he walked his long road to the White House – through bitter primary and presidential races.
Today, it appears that Obama, our most tech-savvy president (to be), has passed another milestone: More than 1 million Facebook users have joined a group on the social networking site that’s agreed to watch a live stream of tomorrow’s ceremony online.
At last count, the “Obama Inauguration on CNN.com Live with Facebook” group counted 1,077,673 attending members – as well as 152,105 “maybes.”
“What will your Facebook status say when Obama becomes President? CNN.com and Facebook are partnering to enable you to update your status, and follow your friends’ updates, while you watch the inauguration live online, all on http://cnn.com/live,” the group’s message says. “On Tuesday, January 20th, watch President-elect Barack Obama become the next President of the United States on http://cnn.com/live. You can watch the live video online from anywhere with broadband access.”
The even begins at 8 a.m. Eastern, with the ceremony starting four hours later, followed by Obama’s inauguration address – after which, thankfully, we journalists can stop writing “-elect” after “President” when describing the man.
Here’s what the Facebook group’s homepage looks like:

To be sure, Obama didn’t stop using technology to communicate with his constituents after Election Day.
As unified communications reported, Obama’s transition team is using technology from San Francisco’s Salesforce.com – a Web-based customer relationship management and Software-as-a-Service provider – to set up a sort of testing lab online for citizens’ ideas.
Obama’s so-called “Citizen’s Briefing Book” – available here – leverages Salesforce’s “CRM Ideas” to allow Americans to submit an idea about an issue facing the government. Others will be able to vote on those ideas and the most popular ones will be presented directly to Obama and his cabinet following Tuesday’s inauguration, the company says, in a document to be called “The Citizen’s Briefing Book.”
Like many other industries that are struggling through this recession, the technology and telecommunications is looking to Obama and his team – including newly appointed Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski – for guidance.
Just today, an executive with one tech company which works in an area that’s thriving in this slower economy – video-based communications – told unified communications in an interview that Obama already has provided strong guidance for the sector.
Stephen Epstein, chief marketing officer for San Mateo, California-based video communications company Avistar, told unified communications that America needs to invest in industries that power the future, such as renewable energy, infrastructure and small businesses that can think out of the box and innovate the way we all work and live.
“Providing access to research, infrastructure and generally supporting small businesses would greatly benefit America’s ability to innovate and become more competitive,” Epstein told unified communications.
If his use of the Internet and social networking sites such as Facebook is any indicator, Obama could be a good man to lead that innovation and resurgence in international competition.

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Michael Dinan is a contributing editor for unified communications, covering news in the IP communications, call center and customer relationship management industries. To read more of Michael's articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Michael Dinan

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