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Can the White House blog?

I like the fact that the Obama administration put up a site – Change.gov – for the transition within a couple of days of winning the elections. I like that it has a blog. But it isn’t yet a real blog. It’s a news page, written in the safe voice of the trained professional.

It’s early days, so I mainly want to appreciate it, not criticize. But there are reasons to think a White House blog is always going to tend towards the bland.

A president could blog, speaking in his or her own voice. But, have you seen the list of what President Obama has to deal with? If he has time to blog, he’s not paying attention.

But maybe the White House could blog. The problem is that America is a big and diverse country. Some of us are Democrats and some are Republicans. Some of us like our news straight up, and some of us don’t respect it without a side order of snark. Some of us think the world is too serious to be made fun of, and some of us think the world is too serious not to be made fun of. Some of us want lists and footnotes, and some of us want videos and typos. So what do you do? Come up with an informative-but-bland blog that offends no one?

Or perhaps you offer a full plate of bloggers. A White House online magazine, so to speak. Lots of voices, opinions, and styles. A Greek chorus for the President, made up of divergent voices. How divergent? For an official White House blog, I would think it’d have to be pretty mainstream, because it’d be speaking for the President’s administration. Even so, knowing that this blogger is an amazing font of facts about telecom policy, and that one is able to put industrial policy into an historical context, and that other one is capable of occasional crackling sarcasm when discussing energy policy, well, that’d be extremely cool.

It’d take courage … and some grade-A metadata to remind people that bloggers speak more loosely than the press secretary does. But by having, say, a dozen in-house people blogging to start, the administration would have a unique way to keep citizens informed, would continue to build trust and intimacy with the American people, and would be able to try out and improve ideas in the cauldron of public conversation…for comments would definitely have to be turned on.

This may be a terrible idea. In any case, I think it is a very unlikely idea. The risk would be high: Political opponents would certainly seize on posts at every opportunity. But how long can we live in fear of being taken out of context? At some point, don’t we just have to trust the American people to understand that it’s important to be able to talk like human beings amongst ourselves?

I dunno. I’d love to see it. Or, preferably, a much better idea. [Tags: ]

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