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WhiteHouse.gov gets quick overhaul

While Barack Obama was being sworn in as president last week, his administration was unveiling a redesigned WhiteHouse.gov Web site with new Web 2.0 tools that promise increased interactivity and easier access to government data.

For example, the refurbished site includes a “Briefing Room” where users can read the latest White House blog posts and sign up for e-mail news updates. Macon Phillips, director of new media for the White House, added in a blog post that the site also provides users with pages to comment on nonemergency legislation.

The Obama team already demonstrated technical expertise during the campaign by using Web 2.0 tools like Facebook, YouTube, blogs and discussion boards to converse with voters.

Allen Weiner, an analyst at Gartner Inc., said that because the Obama team has proved to be technically savvy, it will be expected to make continual updates to the Web site.

“Clearly, Obama's advisers understood how to use the Internet,” he said. “I think it is almost a mandate for him to continue that. I think people would be disappointed if he didn't.”

New York-based blogger Jason Kottke also noted in an e-mail that changes to the site's robots.txt file loosened search restrictions set by the Bush administration.

“One of Obama's big talking points during the campaign was a desire for a more transparent government,” he said. “The spare robots.txt file is a symbol of that.”

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