The transition of digital power

President Barack Obama takes part in a Twitter Q&A session, 2012

President Barack Obama takes part in a Twitter Q&A session, 2012

Once upon a time the transition of digital power meant nothing more complicated than removing the ‘W’ keys from White House keyboards to frustrate the incoming 43rd president’s staff.

Nowadays things have progressed much further and President Obama can quite rightfully claim to be the first US president of the social media age.

Consequently he has been working to preserve his digital legacy and this week finalised plans for of all of his tweets, posts and shares, outlining how they will not only be preserved but also given a life of their own well into the next administration.

Firstly the White House social media accounts will remain for the next president, but everything will be saved separately, with the ArchiveSocial platform hosting an open archive of the Obama Administration’s quarter of a million social media posts, making them searchable by date, platform and keyword.

“The White House social media archive tells the story not just of how we’ve used these platforms to engage with people wherever they are, but also of how the digital landscape has changed over the past eight years,” a White House blog noted.

Going further, digital art organisation Rhizome is publishing a series of multi-media, digital essays on the internet culture associated with the Obama administration and MIT Media Lab’s Electome group developed an interactive tool that compares Administration tweets with a sampling of citizen tweets.

And in case you don’t have enough GIFs in your life, search engine GIPHY has collated all the GIFs the White House shared, as well as a collection of all of the White House’s Vines.

Finally, lest he be forgotten, a new Twitter will republish select White House tweets over the next eight years, which could provide an interesting comparison with the next US president’s Twitter outpouring.

The White House will also make Obama’s social media data available to download from the Internet Archive so anybody can download the White House’s Twitter, Facebook and Vine archives.

Whatever your view of social media, it’s a much more grown up approach than that seen from the UK’s Labour or Conservative parties in recent years (at least, until the National Archives got involved).


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