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Net marvels: the Obama Inauguration

Category : Internet, Journalism · by Jan 12th, 2009

There’s nothing like a big event to get people thinking, particularly when that event is the inauguration of a president who brings with him the hopes and dreams of a generation.

Barack Obama will be sworn in as 44th President of the United States in nine days on Tuesday 20th January. There are also a range of events in the weekend leading up to it and on the Monday before – Martin Luther King Day – and all that has got people’s online minds whirring.

Here’s a quick rundown of the best spots on the Net about the inauguration and inspired by the inauguration:

  • The official website: The Presidential Inaugural Committee is in charge of the whole event and it has its site at It’s an impressive site – covering not only what will happen during the ceremony but a whole wealth of information about all the preparation. The Committee also has a YouTube site, a very interesting Flickr picture site which contains a wide range of sets of photos, including some historic photos of previous Inaugural Balls and the like, and a Twitter feed – telling you what’s going on with all the other sites.
  • The official merchandise: Anyone that has been in the US for the past three months, especially in DC, will have confronted with rows and rows of Obamemorabilia. But for the really good stuff, like the $60 bronze medallion that looks nothing like Obama, you have to visit the official shop. The physical shop can be found at 625 E Street NW in Washington. Now’s your chance to make history by paying too much for rubbish goods because of over-excitement about something completely unrelated – what’s stopping yer?
  • The real artwork: Meanwhile, you can check out some real art – images created through a wider sense of inspiration. No matter what you think of Obama, you have to admit he has inspired many millions of people. The ManifestHope site is the online shopfront for a gallary at 3333 M Street NW in Washington DC (which is actually a bit of a walk from the White House, Capitol etc). A range of artists have contributed work and it will be displayed there over the inauguration weekend. I am hoping that they stick some pics of the artwork up online soon.
  • The exciting artwork: While on about artwork, it you are wondering who created the famous Obama “Hope” poster, it was a bloke called Shepard Fairey. Fairey has a very interesting style – you can see more of his work here – and he is selling limited edition copies (well, 10,000) of an inauguration print for $500 signed or $100 unsigned. I have to confess I have bought an unsigned one.
  • The events: Everyone and their dog has desperately been trying to get hold of tickets to the official Inaugural Ball. It’s not going to happen. But there is a whole wealth of other parties going on at the same time – and Ticketmaster can act as your vendor. So whether it’s the Sultans of Satire Inauguration Comedy Tour in DC, or a multitude of other parties out and around the country, you can buy your entry online.
  • Creating your own events: Tied in with the Inauguration, the Obama team has been pushing Martin Luther King Day, in particular its original intended aim which was to get people to volunteer and help out fellow citizens. The transition team has used its extensive organising online architecture and contacts to make events in your area accessible. Sign up and you can see exactly what is going on in your area. At the same time, the official body for MLK Day, the Corporation for National and Community Service, has set up a similar site system where you can register an event or join someone else’s. So if you really want to put your money where your mouth is, you can celebrate the inauguration and the hope message by helping out your neighbours.
  • Attending on a budget:For those who both want to visit DC and do so on some kind of decent budget, there’s another great site – Crash The The site is set up by a company called AirBed&Breakfast which is used for local houseowners to offer their spare beds to people visiting a city for very cheap prices. I’m not all that sure I’d try it if I was a young woman, and I’m far from sure that I’d sign up, but inauguration fever appears to have taken hold and with no rooms available at all in Washington over the weekend, it seems people are being quite genuine and offering beds so visitors can enjoy the event (albeit for a small fee). The site also has a pretty good guide for what to do in DC.
  • And the rest… For everything else, have a very extensive if slightly dry inauguration guide. Enjoy.

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