The Inauguration – Live!

inauguration

Photo by H. Darr Beiser, creative commons

mosaicWow.  What a week.  I feel like I’ve been on media-overload  as I’ve watched, listened, read, heard, and otherwise soaked up President Obama’s inauguration. There are so many firsts with this remarkable presidency, but top among them has to be the role played by new media to help us all experience, digest, and reflect on this pivotal moment in U.S. history.

It’s worth a bit of a recap, wouldn’t you say?  So here are a few of the new media highlights that deepened my inaugural-week experience.

Thanks to the NYTimes, there is a zoomable, roll-over composite photo of the inauguration stand which you can search/roll-over to identify each person in the crowd. And here’s a explanation from the photographer, David Bergman, of the way he crafted the 1,474-megapixel photo (thanks, Gardner!).

You can listen to the inauguration speech or read it. And you can speculate about the oath-of-office stumble during Barack Obama’s swearing in, along with Scott Horsley and Robert Siegel (from NPR), discovering along the way that both Calvin Coolidge and Chester Arthur had to repeat the oath due to similar issues.

Here’s a perfectly charming set of behind-the-scenes photos of the first couple, taken by Pete Souza and offered up by the Today show online.  I love the one in the service elevator.

Minute-by-minute coverage was available in a zillion different ways. There was an inauguration report widget to add to your web site, wiki, or cell phone, where you could post up to the minute “tweets” relating to the inauguration from where ever you were (I followed these and it was inspiring!). iPhone offered a UStream application for viewing live coverage of the inauguration.  YouTube offered downloadable video. Bloggers and citizen journalists expanded the perspective with personal stories and commentaries.

Television networks added twitter posts into their coverage of the events. Also on twitter, you could follow inauguration-related updates by using the hashtag #inaug09.

Take a gander at the history tab on the Barack Obama 2009 inauguration wikipedia entry – see the minute-by-minute updates as various contributors added to and refined the entry.

If you wanted to follow the parade route, the NYTimes offered a spectacular 3D model of the Capitol area and parade route tracker, complete with photos and historical notes. Step through it to get the complete picture.

If you type “obama + inauration” into Flickr (the photo sharing site) you’ll get 81,391 results  – including some terrific shots of in-home inauguration parties around the country, including this wonderful mosaic put together by CBuckley.

obama_001Even Second Life got into the act by hosting its own virtual inaugural ball. That’s my avatar, taking it all in.  But Second Lifers are not just partiers.  There is a significant and ongoing political activity in the virtual world. Obama’s transition team held community discussions on health care in SL as a way to provide easier access to people with disabilities to share their views.

To get a sense of the international response to the week, you can read the International Herald Tribune’s coverage.

I loved hearing all the people stories – those who were on the Mall that day and those who were watching from afar.  NPR put together an inspiring narrated slideshow, featuring people on the Mall, who come from all over the U.S.  Or how about the CNN video of the crowd in Baltimore, shouting “We love you Obama”, where he calmly answers, “I love you back.”

There are some fabulous photos on Boston.com – including satellite imagery of the Capital Mall (where the people down below look like ants on an anthill), images of people around the world viewing the festivities, and heart-warming shots of our troops in Iraq, eyes glued to television screens.

Or how about the 4D traffic map of the DC area on inauguration day, built by the CATT Lab at University of Maryland and featured on NPR.  It shows traffic patterns on simulated roads on top of satellite and aerial imagery, all in real time (the 4th dimension). Wow.

If you missed the musical numbers you can find them all here – Aretha Franklin, the Yo-YoMa/Itzhak Perlman “Simple Gifts” quartet, and the San Francisco Boys and Girls chorus.

For an “aw shucks” moment, check out the video of Jenna and Barbara Bush reading their “playing house in the White House” letter to the Obama daughters.

For fashionistas, here’s a recap of Michelle Obama’s clothing choices throughout inauguration week, with voice over by Cathy Horyn (could she sound any more bored?).

And what inauguration coverage would be complete without a slideshow of the inauguration balls or a video of the first couple’s first dance (waltzing to the voice of Beyonce, singing At Last)?  Ahh…..At Last, indeed.

In the wake of the first week, there’s the NYTimes interactive representation charting the hopes of 200 people around the country – each were asked what their hopes were for the Obama administration.

And, of course, there is always http://www.barackobama.com. The web site that helped shaped the election is now helping to shape the new administration.  On this site you can read about the issues, take political action, learn more about the President and his cabinet, read a state-specific blog with Obama-realted updates relevant to your state, tell the administration what you think, and, of course, donate.

Now that we’ve arrived at the end of the week, I’m reflecting on how these new tools and affordances changed the experience for me.  My understanding and appreciation of the process was certainly deepened, but beyond that, I felt so much more connected. I was reading, singing, listening, commenting, and cheering right along with 300 million other Amercians – and 6 billion others all over the globe. I felt a part of everything and everything felt like a part of me.  It’s heady stuff.

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