Web 2.0 Representation in the Obama Administration

We are not 4 full days into the Obama transition period and already three web executives have made theoir way into the mix in some kind of advisory role. Yesterday, we covered the naming of Julius Genachowski of Launchbox Digital and Sonal Shah of Google.org to the transition team. Today, the New York Times points out that Google CEO Eric Schmidt has been named to his economic advisory board.

This got me thinking about what a Web 2.0 Administration would look like. In considering roles within the new administration, I’m suggesting possibilities based on their personal reputation within the web space with a favoring for people that own or run their own companies.

Chris Brogan is the ultimate diplomat and community guy, so he should be considered for Secretary of State. Louis Gray is my candidate for Ambassador to the United Nations. Oh and Tom from MySpace needs to be an Ambassador or something because he’s everyones friend.

Jason Calacanis is a master businessman, having been the CEO or an executive in companies such as Weblogs Inc., AOL and now Mahalo. As such, I am naming him as Secretary of Commerce.

Mike Arrington is not a practicing attorney, but it is his background. He is a no-bullshit kind of guy not hesitating to name companies to the dead pool if he thinks they have no chance and propping up companies who he believes does have a chance. Because of the nature of the FBI, and the Department of Justice, Mike seems like a good fit as the Attorney General.

Gary Vaynerchuk, as the ultimate communicator, is qualified and should be President Obama’s Press Secretary.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs seems to be the only CEO of a publicly traded company (AAPL) who seems to be doing okay in the economic downturn. Sure, he might want to redistribute iPods, and ensure the Star Spangled Banner is the top pick in the iTunes Music Store for 4 years, but he should be the Secretary of the Treasury.

Lightning rod video and puppet blogger, Loren Feldman, has no issue going after “enemies of America” (or anyone else) and as such, he gets my designation for Secretary of Defense.

Knowledge blogger, Dave Taylor, has built up a wealth of intelligence regarding a variety of topics. I nominate him as the Director of Central Intelligence.

Graham Hill of Treehugger is the notable nominee for Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk as Administrator of NASA.

Julia Allison should definitely be a White House intern.

What do you think? Who else should be in the cabinet?

Added: Melanie Notkin has been nominated, and I concur, in comments below as Secretary of Health and Human Services. Her site is using Web 2.0 to enlighten and inform aunts, families and the general population.

Loren Feldman Demonstrates Artistic Handiwork But is Not Racist

Alot has been said recently of the cyclone that has begun to swirl around Loren Feldman. Loren is, and continues to be, my friend first and foremost. Though I know this will be completely offensive to some in the blogosphere, many of whom I respect and see as colleagues, it has to be said.

madame_x.jpgArtwork is artwork and Loren is an artist. The best art is offensive to somebody. That’s the truth. Take this painting known as Madame X.

According to the story, this piece caused such a stir in 19th century France due to the sexual posturing of the Madame in the photo. The sexuality conveyed with the skin and pink ears was absolutely obscene in French society of 1884. (Source) Today, we would think nothing of this piece of art but in that day, there was a clear message sent about the nature of the society at the time and the truth was offensive.

In the late 80s, the National Endowment for the Arts funded the exhibition of a photograph called Piss Christ which set evangelical Christians on edge. The photograph portrays a crucifix set in a jar of the author’s urine. Some saw the piece as blasphemy while others saw it as an observation of what society has done to Jesus.

The point being that artwork can sometimes be damning. Art, like music, is one of those rare things that provides such an avenue into a person’s soul that sometimes what is seen within is frightening and, like the French of 1884, they don’t confront the issue but shove it back into a dark corner.

Do I believe racism still exists in America? Absolutely. It is one of the worst calamities ever wrought on this nation, and many others. Do I believe Loren Feldman, in his weeklong parody/social experiment, toed the line? Yeah, I do. Did he cross it? Eh… who am I to judge? Is he racist? Heck no.

Many of the people who have defended Loren have done so from the position of first hand experience. I, like many of them, know Loren personally. I’ve spent days with the guy. I’ve slept on his sofa when I was stranded in New York. I laughed with him in San Francisco and Toronto at two different events.

Is he controversial? You betcha. Is he racist? Not a chance.

Loren Feldman Debacle Demonstrates Ignorance Lives

By now, many of you have heard about the failed attempt at humor by video blogger Loren Feldman. In the past, I’ve been pleased to call Loren my friend. He is funny, and very New York – two combos that I like. People like Loren often make me miss NYC, where people are real.

However, Loren took things a bit too far with his videos from a year ago. He stepped over serious racial lines, offending many people. It started with a video where he asks, “Where are all the black tech bloggers?” It ends with a series of other racist videos that resulted in the termination of his contract with PodTech.

Now, I believe that everyone makes mistakes and that mistakes are forgiveable. Hell, I’ve made mistakes – some of the racial type – that have been forgiven.

But Loren has intentionally gone too far and shows no signs of coming back. Last month, Loren had two deals secured to create and distribute video content. One was with CNet (owned by CBS) and the other with Verizon Wireless who planned to syndicated his content to their V-Cast service.

Both companies canned him after recognizing that this was not the kind of image they wanted their brands to convey.

Corvida, over at SheGeeks, was instrumental in having the Verizon Wireless deal deep-sixed. She states in her post:

The video was degrading. He was degrading an entire community and it should not be supported by Verizon nor its customers. It hit close to home and not necessarily because it was true on some levels, but because it was negative on every level. It was an ignorant video and one that mocked a small percentage of the African-American community. Yet, that particular part of the community is the most profile and we can all guess why. Everyone loves drama.

Corvida is dead right. Apparently, many other people agree with her.

Loren stepped over a serious line. I’ve attempted, thus far, to stay out of this. Race is a serious issue in this country and though some would like to believe it is a thing of the past, it is not. Anyone who bandys around racial slurs so recklessly deserves never to have business again.

The Internet is Not a Free Speech Zone

It would seem that people, by and large, think that the internet is a free speech zone. We have blogs, these are our personal spaces and we can do whatever the hell we want.

In case you missed the memo, this is not the case.

Sure, you might not go to jail (actually, this increasingly becomes possible) but as bad, if not worse, is the possibility of destroying relationships because of your actions on the internet.

It’s not a free speech zone.

A few days ago, Loic Lemeur, the founder of Seesmic and someone who I have yet to meet in person, put out a very impassioned video calling Kosso (who is my friend and the developer of Phreadz) to task for disseminating private conversation.

I find this video very honest and transparent. Loic apologizes for direct comments that may have been inappropriate. From Kosso’s standpoint, he explains in a very coherent way why the whole thing is very awkward:

Now, if you’ve made it this far and watched the videos, you can understand that the politics of the web is a very delicate thing. It’s easy for people to get twisted up, but there’s always two sides to every conversation.

A few months ago, Loren Feldman started a series of parody videos mocking Shel Israel’s videos at FastCompany.tv. Quite a number of people took offense to these videos and that particular conversation got downright nasty. What some people don’t understand is that the internet is not a free speech zone and, if Loren wanted to, he could destroy their lives, businesses, client relationships, etc.

Does that make Loren a bad guy? No, I hardly think so. I personally think that Loren is one of the nicest and most honest guys on the internet. But I know he could destroy me.

That in itself doesn’t keep me from stepping into that fray, but it’s a healthy respect valve.

So to everyone I have bitten harshly in this internet world, accept my apologies. There have been a lot of them, but to name a few: Tyme White, Mike Rundle, Kris Smith, John Havens, David Krug, Robert Scoble, Mike Arrington, Jason Calacanis and others.

Life’s too short.