Obama, Trump and the Democracy of Connectivity [April 4, 2017]

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Tuesday, April 4, 2017
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The Australian

By David Swan

Love him or hate him, US President Donald Trump’s use of Twitter has ushered in a new phase of democracy, one we’re still coming to grips with, according to the man who pulled the digital strings for Barack Obama.

Tom Cochran, who had a four-year stint at the White House, now runs software-as-a-service company Acquia’s global public sector business from Washington DC, and he’s excited by the ease with which the US President can now connect with the public, completely bypassing media gatekeepers.

“That’s something that didn’t exist 10 years ago,’’ Mr Cochran said. “That’s a remarkable feat, and something we should applaud in terms of technology opening doors. The question is what do we do with that power?

“We’re in a very early adolescent phase of figuring out what are the rules of engagement here.”

Mr Cochran worked with his friends at Blue State Digital, and they started work for Mr Obama when Mr Obama was a “senator from Illinois with a funny name”. He said his signature achievement in the White House was We the People, a system in which everyday citizens could petition the White House, and force a response if 100,000 signatures were received in 30 days.

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