Obama Debuts New WhiteHouse.gov

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The White House on Pennsylvania Avenue isn't the only presidential home getting a renovation today. Barack Obama's virtual home, WhiteHouse.gov, also has a brand new look to go with the brand new presidency.

Inside the New WhiteHouse.gov

A revamped WhiteHouse.gov went live during Obama's inaugural ceremony this afternoon. The site features a modernized interface with rotating news headlines and an official White House blog. Upon its launch, the main headline proclaimed: "Change Has Come To America." The blog section followed suit with the title: "Change Has Come To WhiteHouse.gov."

Obama's WhiteHouse.gov also offers links to various presidential agendas and a "briefing room" that will host clips of the president's weekly video addresses. Photo slideshows and information on appointments, proclamations, and executive orders will be made available in that section as well.

Limited Interaction

Interestingly, given the ongoing focus on interaction and community involvement, the site does not appear to have an open comment function within the blog section or any other area. There is, however, a "contact" page that offers an HTML-based form to submit questions and comments to the president.

"President Obama is committed to creating the most open and accessible administration in American history," the page states. "To send questions, comments, concerns, or well-wishes to the President or his staff, please use the form below."

The introductory blog does suggest more opportunities for interaction could arise as the weeks wear on.

"Citizen participation will be a priority for the administration, and the Internet will play an important role in that," the site says. "One significant addition to WhiteHouse.gov reflects a campaign promise from the president: we will publish all non-emergency legislation to the website for five days, and allow the public to review and comment before the president signs it."

Launch Issues

Of course, no change is without its share of issues. The site offered a link to Obama's inaugural address before it was actually online, and the first blog post stated Obama had been sworn in before the ceremony had been completed. Still, the virtual transition appears to have gone more smoothly than the last (and only other to date): When President Bush first took office in 2001, his WhiteHouse.gov launched with broken links and template messages in place.

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