Should the president read blogs? Ezra thinks so:
Many of us bloggers know Jesse Lee, the White House’s crack blog outreach guy. It would be nice, however, if the Eisenhower Executive Office Building housed Lee’s inverse: An independent-minded new media guy charged by Obama with digging through the blogosphere and picking out a selection of posts and contrary voices that the President might find analytically useful. That’s certainly happening on the communications side of things, where the blogs are watched with an eye towards message and influence. It would be nice to know a similar project was underway to trawl the more technical corners of the blogosphere for insights that might be useful but aren’t being hunted down by a busy president or his overworked underlings, much less passed on by technocrats whose incentives don’t include elevating analyses that undercut their own positions.
Nah. Obama has all the technical expertise he needs, and the real outliers wouldn’t make it past this hypothetical EEOB gatekeeper anyway. Instead, Obama ought to just read some blogs. Either pick a few he likes and scan them daily, or else commission some kind of random RSS feed based on a larger universe of blogs. It would be sort of like Ozymandias watching all those TV screens at once to suck in the zeitgeist, except in words.
(Sorry. I played hooky this afternoon and went to see Watchmen. So I figured I ought to work in a reference somewhere.)
Anyway, one of the keys to this would be to keep his reading list absolutely secret. Can you imagine what your blog would become like if you knew the president was reading it? You’d either become a constant shill for every one of your pet hobbyhorses or else catatonic from the pressure of knowing that the leader of the free world was reading your pearls of wisdom. So that means Obama needs to make the choices himself and not let anybody else in on it.
Besides, assuming that Obama doesn’t screw the pooch completely over the next eight years, what would be cooler than discovering in 2016 that your blog was one of the ones he had been reading? Not much. So get that man an RSS reader and let him see the outside world in all its raw glory.