The Obama Library - Physical or Virtual ? Networked or Fixed ?

obamaobamaBronzeville among city sites seeking Obama library - this reported by Dahleen Glanton - a Chicago Tribune reporter - on December 25th. (Christmas Day - they were THAT short of news).

Since reading this, I have picked up various commentaries and opinions on the not (yet) widely discussed, but much anticipated, rivalry between Chicago and Honolulu - as to where Obama’s library will end up.

Most of what I have seen sees Illinois in the lead and Hawaii the underdog.

What I have NOT seen is any discussion that this time it might be different.

The world, business, academia are all accelerating towards distributed, virtual, online collaborative (fill in your words of choice) spaces. The importance of Geography is theoretically going away. Each POTUS brings with them a certain back story of how they came to be where they are. I am not a political historian - thank god - but it does occur to me that Obama rode in to the White House on the back of new technologies in the social sphere. A lot of the social tech behemoths were started before Obama became president - but they have absolutely come to power under his watch. And the tech advisors he seeks out are not the old guard - but the new - Dorsey, Zuckerberg et al.

Not only that - but the very strength of his power as a community organizer, is in some respects the physical manifestation of these networks.

So - here’s my prediction ….

Obama’s library will be a network with physical bases both in The Second City AND The New Constantinople (as I affectionately think of The Hawaiian Islands - that is a whole different post that I need to get to). Why would we assume that the Library has to be in once place or the other. We live in the 21st century. We are networked and virtualized people. Why wouldn’t Obama’s library be representative and symbolic of his presidential term …

  • both geographies played a massive part in his making him who he is
  • he is about community organizing - which is a distributed grass roots model - not centralized
  • he was the first ‘blackberry’ - if not mobile - president
  • his time in power mirrors the fundamental shifts in power throughout  the world - enabled by - if not accelerated through Social Networks and distributed power bases

What do you think ? Does that make sense to you ?

January 8, 2013