Technology evangelists believe that Barack Obama has the potential to fundamentally alter communication between the presidency and the people.
Wikis in the White House? Online public comments on legislation? A real-time two-way conversation between citizens and their elected officials?
For better or worse, however, nothing is as easy as it might seem. Federal regulations, First Amendment issues, and just plain common sense are going to slow -- and potentially stagnate -- technological innovation in Washington.
Panelists discussed their hopes for a more transparent Obama administration and the challenges to a more open and participatory government - New America Foundation
Mindy Finn is a Republican political strategist and student focused on the post-broadcast shift that has made each of us "the media."
She has led online strategy at the presidential, senate and political committee level, and currently blogs for The Next Right, NPR and TechPresident.com.
Sascha Meinrath is the Research Director of the New America Foundation's Wireless Future Program and coordinates the Foundation's Open Technology Initiative. Meinrath has been described as a "community Internet pioneer" and an "entrepreneurial visionary" and is a well-known expert on community wireless networks (CWNs) and municipal broadband, and telecommunications policy.
Leading news sources, including the Economist, the New York Times, the Nation, and National Public Radio, often cite Meinrath's work in covering issues related to CWNs and telecommunications policy. Additionally, Meinrath coordinates the Open Source Wireless Coalition, a global partnership of open source wireless integrators, researchers, implementors and companies dedicated to the development of open source, interoperable, low-cost wireless technologies.
Meinrath is a regular contributor to Government Technology's Digital Communities, the online portal and comprehensive information resource for the public sector. Meinrath has also worked with Free Press, the Cooperative Association for Internet Data Analysis (CAIDA), the Acorn Active Media Foundation, the Ethos Group, and the CUWiN Foundation.
Ellen S. Miller is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Sunlight Foundation, a Washington-based, non-profit catalyst that is using new technology to open up Congress. In just two years, Sunlight has created more than two dozen Web sites, databases, distributed research projects, tools and widgets to make information about Congress' activities more accessible through the Internet.
She is the founder of two prominent Washington-based organizations in the field of money and politics -- the Center for Responsive Politics and Public Campaign -- and a nationally recognized expert on campaign finance and ethics issues. Ms. Miller is a well-recognized public speaker, commentator, and writer on the issues of money, politics, and power. Her experience as a Washington advocate for more than 35 years spans the worlds of public interest advocacy, grass roots activism and journalism.
In addition to her more than two decades of work on the issue of money in politics, Ms. Miller served as Deputy Director of Campaign for America's Future, where she directed its Project for an Accountable Congress, the publisher of TomPaine.com and a senior fellow at The American Prospect.
Craig Newmark is a senior Web-oriented software engineer, with around twenty-five years of experience (including 18 years at IBM), and has become a leader in online community by virtue of running www.craigslist.org for over 9 years. He's compiled extensive experience evangelizing, leading and building, including work at Bank of America and Charles Schwab.
In 1995, Newmark started craigslist which serves as a non-commercial community bulletin board with classifieds and discussion forums. Using a common sense, down-to-earth approach, craigslist strives to make the 'net more personal and authentic, while advocating social responsibility through the promotion of small, non-profit organizations.
Newmark's community activities include being on the advisory boards of Climate Theatre and Haight-Ashbury Food Program as well as supporting local writers through Grotto Nights. Newmark has been featured in the Associated Press, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Business Week, Time Magazine, and Esquire Magazine.
Nicholas Thompson was most recently a senior editor at Legal Affairs Magazine and, before that, an editor at Washington Monthly. He is now a contributing editor at both publications and an editor at Wired. Mr. Thompson has written about politics, technology, and the law for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Times, Slate, Foreign Policy, The New Republic, The New York Observer, and many other publications.
He was a 2005 Livingston Award nominee, and has appeared as a commentator on Fox News, MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, ABC's Live with Regis and Kelly, NBC's Today Show, and National Public Radio.
As a Fellow at the New America Foundation in 2002-03, Mr. Thompson wrote about the ways that information technology was changing West Africa. Currently, he is writing a book about Paul Nitze and George Kennan, and how the 50-year battle of ideas between those two men defined the Cold War and illuminates current foreign policy debates.