January 26, 2011 4:09 am

Internet age heralds early release of speech

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President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address featured technology and research and development as one of his key themes – Google and Facebook were mentioned early in the one-hour-plus speech – and received an early positive response on political blogs and Twitter.

The online commentary varied in tone, ranging from remarks on the significance of Mr Obama’s choice of tie colour, to the bipartisan seating arrangement, and the feasibility of implementing the promises the president was making.

Nate Silver of fivethirtyeight tweeted “Obama’s tie tonight is about 3/4 of the way to purple from blue. (Just like his speech)”, while former MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann tweeted “with bipartisan seating, wondering how many will unintentionally stand up, or forget to, because of who’s sitting next to them.”

Bloggers also provided some behind-the-scenes insight. “The White House had tried to hold the written speech until Mr Obama delivered it. But it leaked out, and the White House was forced to release it early. As the president walked down the aisle and saw his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, he leaned in and said, ‘I don’t need to deliver it now. Everybody saw it,’” The New York Times Caucus blog said.

The president’s official Twitter feed – @BarackObama – tweeted the key lines of the speech as it was delivered and the White House’s website offered an enhanced version of the State of the Union, which featured photographs, facts and quotes that were applicable to the speech in real time. Other Twitter accounts provided translations into other languages of the speech line-by-line.

“Thirty years ago, we couldn’t know that something called the Internet would lead to an economic revolution … We are the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook,” Mr Obama said.

The Huffington Post provided real-time fact-checking and posted documents to help confirm or contradict points. Their bloggers also provided commentary on the effectiveness of the speech.

“Yet no matter how ambitious Obama’s rhetorical reach, his speech at the halfway point of his term will be viewed in the context of his new political reality,” the blog said.

The Huffington Post also noted what Mr Obama did not mention, which included the thorny issues of the US homeloans foreclosure crisis, as well as the gun control and climate change debates.

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