Tuesday, March 03, 2009

From the White House to the Wood Shed

In "White House Denies Shunning YouTube," the Bits blog from the New York Times attempts to explain apparent fluctuations in the web design philosophy of the Obama administration, as it grapples with whether or not to use third-party commercial providers for online video content when presenting what is ostensibly a digital form of the public record.

Now the White House is denying that it has changed its policy on videos from YouTube, which is owned by Google, or other third parties. While it chose to host President Barack Obama’s weekly radio and video address on WhiteHouse.gov, rather than embed a video from YouTube on its site, the change was simply an experiment, said Nick Shapiro, a White House spokesman.

“As the president continues his goal of making government more accessible and transparent, this week we tested a new way of presenting the president’s weekly address by using a player developed in-house,” Mr. Shapiro said in a statement. “This decision is more about better understanding our internal capabilities than it is a position on third-party solutions or a policy. The weekly address was also published in third-party video hosting communities and we will likely continue to embed videos from these services on WhiteHouse.gov in the future.”

The story also links to a blog posting by VP friend Christopher Soghoian, "Is the White House changing its YouTube tune?," which explains how privacy advocates have attempted to influence the White House webmasters to consider the problems with relying on sites that rely on collecting data for marketers and directing targeted advertising to consumers in order to generate a profitable -- and perhaps monopolistic -- income stream.

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