Experts: Obama's Only Begun To Use The Web

(CBS) Barack Obama is widely seen as the first presidential candidate to make the Internet a powerful tool in his campaign.

And now, reports CBS News Science and Technology Correspondent Daniel Sieberg, the Web will likely be just as important to the president-elect when he takes office.

Obama used the Web to get his message out, especially to young voters, Sieberg noted on The Early Show Friday.

This election cycle, Sieberg observed, the online push went further than the candidates' personal Web sites, as both Mr. Obama and John McCain tapped into the newest forms of social interaction, from Facebook to MySpace, even text messages. Obama employed the Web to raise record amounts of money for a presidential campaign.

"A lot of elections have been won because of television appearances," Doug Jaeger, a Web designer for thehappycorp.com, told Sieberg. "How people are appearing on the Internet is becoming more and more important."

Mr. Obama must now shift from campaign mode to governing mode with his cyber-supporters, Sieberg points out.

"The Internet has changed the game dramatically," says Andrew Rasiej, founder of TechPresident.com. "It's as if, in 2004, the Internet was allowed into the conference room of politics; in 2006, it was allowed to sit at the table; but in 2008, it's sitting at the head of the table, holding the agenda."

Mr. Obama has said he'd like to appoint a chief technology officer, perhaps at the cabinet level, and he's made it clear he will embrace new technologies in office -- technologies such as Skype, a video tool Sieberg used to get this quote from John Tedesco, a Virginia Tech political communications professor: "(Mr.) Obama recognized that young voters are using social networking sites and social networking software, and he brought his campaign to the young voters online."

Ultimately, according to tech experts, the most important part of Mr. Obama's future strategy is to ensure his digital followers continue to feel empowered.

Says Rasiej, "We're going to see this online community become really the special interest of the Obama presidency. Not the lobbyists, not the people who've traditionally give money, but the people who actually know how to use these tools to make sure that their voices are heard."

Think of it, suggest Sieberg, as the 21st century equivalent of giving power to the people.

And, Sieberg says, there's a sense that people are going to become more deeply involved in local politics, from school boards to running for office themselves, as a result of this online empowerment.

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