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This article is from the In-Depth Report Science and the Obama Administration

The Wired White House--A Pictorial Evolution of the POTUS Web Site [Slide Show]

Tech-savvy Pres. Barack Obama quickly revamps the chief executive Web site, but finds that when it comes to technology at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, change (such as laptops for his staff) will come more slowly
White House, Obama, Web



Courtesy of Whitehouse.gov

It must have been quite the scene when the crew of our oh-so-techy new president, Barack Obama, reported for their first day of work at the White House to discover "a jumble of disconnected phone lines, old computer software, and security regulations forbidding outside e-mail accounts" as The Washington Post reports today. Among other remnants of the past: The aides, who the Post says are accustomed to working on Apple Macs, instead found themselves using PCs running six-year-old versions of Microsoft software. Meanwhile, there are reportedly only enough laptops for a small number of West Wing staffers.

The White House Web site was apparently put on the back burner as Obama's staff adjusted to their first day in their new offices. The site, according to the Post, still said "The president has not yet issued any executive orders," hours after Obama had issued executive orders to tighten ethics rules, loosen Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) guidelines, and freeze the salaries of White House staff who earn more than $100,000. But the new West Wing whizzes didn't neglect it for long—the site was updated by last night.

Slide Show: The evolution of the White House Web site since 1996.

Wireless access will likely be an essential, although somewhat complicated, component of the Obama White House, given the Presidential Records Act (PRA) of 1978. Amended several times since, it requires that all presidential records (including e-mail and text messages) be preserved unless the National Archives and Records Administration gives its okay to scrap them.

As the Web site Engadget pointed out today, it's still unclear exactly which wireless device Obama will use now that he's in the Oval Office. The new president's well-documented affinity for his BlackBerry as well as his staff's relentless use of the Internet throughout his long campaign all but ensure that he'll use some sort of smart phone, even if it has to be modified to make it secure enough for a president. Obama's wireless devices are likely to provide a microcosm of the debate over how the need to secure information can run contrary to one's desire for privacy.

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