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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Why Was Barack Obama the President So Late to the Digital Revolution That Won His Campaign As Candidate?


You win the election in 2008, and Twitter is just becoming a thing. Over the course of your presidency, that’s the biggest thing that’s changed. What’s the biggest challenge with all that stuff?

Speed. You are on 24/7—you have to respond immediately. The job of our office, to keep up and to respond quickly to anything that’s happening but not be consumed by it, is completely different. We’ve been building a digital team inside the White House. 

When did that start?

Too late. That’s an example of something that I would’ve started earlier. That was a lesson that coming out of the first term, I should’ve understood. That’s why we built this team. It’s so interesting watching my daughters. Both are complete ninjas on the phone, right? And they can do things that I don’t even understand—they’re doing it in two seconds. But I even see a difference between Malia, who’s 17, and Sasha, who’s 14. There’s almost a mini-generational gap in terms of Sasha being so connected seamlessly to this smartphone in a way that Malia, who was already a little bit older when it really started to take, is not.

The ability to multitask with 19 different friends at the same time…

Yeah. And just the degree to which her social life is so connected to that. So it’s not just having to change how we do business inside the White House to react to stories, but also, how do we tell a story about issues to constituencies that are completely splintered, who don’t watch television in the same way, who don’t watch the news in the same way? In some ways we’re just laying the foundation for what I assume will be the standard practice of future presidents.

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