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Under Obama, a newly interactive government?

The president-elect aims to use the Internet to make government more participatory.

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Hi-tech: Volunteers entered data into laptops in April at an Obama campaign office in Carlisle, PA.

Chris Fitzgerald/Candidate Photos

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Want to give Barack Obama a piece of your mind about what’s wrong with the United States government? Just go to www.change.gov and click on “Share Your Ideas.”

A man named John from Seattle did: “I am so tired of special interests getting the best of us all.”

So did Lexington from San Diego: “I’d like to see an agenda that focuses on promoting transparency....”

The website is the official, online face of the Office of the President Elect. It gives a first glimpse of how Mr. Obama intends to harness technology to create a cutting-edge, participatory democracy in a similar way he used Internet connectivity to transform campaigning.

The idea is premised on the digital world’s potential to transform the US into one large cyber town-hall meeting: Every citizen will ideally have a window into the workings of government and an opportunity to tell elected leaders exactly what they think of it.

It’s an idealistic notion that will require some concrete changes – from a large investment in upgrading government computers to a change in the rules and regulations that guide government employees. Most important, it will require a radical transformation of the entrenched culture of secrecy and the dominance of special interests that define how Washington operates.

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