Outside the Frame: Documenting Inauguration 2009 Online

by |

Amanda HirschFreelance writer Amanda Hirsch, former editorial director of PBS Interactive, blogs about documentaries and the Web in her column, Outside the Frame, published every week on the POV Blog.

Forget what you’ve heard: The inauguration of President-elect Barack Obama does not actually begin on January 20. Sure, that’s when the official ceremony takes place, but who says that’s where the story of the inauguration begins? In fact, this particular story has been unfolding online for weeks, nay, months. To wit:
The Presidential Inauguration Committee has a website, blog and Twitter feed offering up-to-the-minute inauguration news and a behind the scenes look at what it takes to mount such an event. The committee also has its own photo stream on Flickr that allows virtual access to, say, the January 11 inauguration dress rehearsal or, for the more nostalgic, a round-up of photos from past inaugural balls. (Nice touch, adding historical context to enrich the story.)
Inauguration Parade Rehearsal

Photo of Inauguration Parade rehearsal courtesy of the Presidential Inauguration Committee on Flickr.

Not to be outdone, the Joint Congressional Inauguration Committee is also hard at work documenting the inauguration, including posting weekly photos of the inaugural platform as it’s being constructed outside the U.S. Capitol. (A contender for the TMI, or “too much information,” category is the slideshow of the nail-driving ceremony. We get it: you’re building a platform! What’s next, a photo gallery of the construction workers’ lunch breaks?)

Lest we all forget where the inauguration is taking place (other than online), the Washington, D.C. government’s website is on hand, offering further photos of inaugurations past, as well as a series of interactive maps to help enrich your inauguration visit. You can even download the Navigating Washington map application to your Blackberry or iPhone. And since this seems to be the age of Twitter, you can follow the government’s inauguration tweets as well.

Screenshot of the navigating Washington map

Screenshot of the D.C. government’s Navigating Washington interactive inauguration map.

Speaking (again) of Twitter: The Twitter community is amassing its own archive of inauguration coverage that goes well beyond any official committee or government contributions. Individual users can just tag their tweets with #inaug to add their content to the central inauguration pool, which is viewable at the hashtags website. (If this is all Greek to you, check out this excellent explanation of “hashtags” and how they work.)

Twitter user Andy Carvin, for example — who also happens to head up social media efforts at NPR and helped organize Twitter users to employ the #inaug tag — has posted such inauguration-related tidbits as:
“The Neighborhood Inaug Ball will also have interactive video and texting to link to other neighborhood balls around the country #inaug09″
“Overheard people at LL Bean in Columbia, MD buying all-weather clothing for standing outside at #inaug09.”
(Incidentally, POV will be twittering from the inauguration, too — we have an actual ticket! — at twitter.com/povdocs.)

Last but not least: Local media giant The Washington Post is also in on the action with its Inauguration Watch website. I like the “Faces in the Crowd” feature, a series of profiles of people who plan to attend the inauguration — from Indian American Gulshan Gachoke, who “almost never ventures beyond her Fremont (California) neighborhood’s Indian shops, lest someone mistake her for a Muslim and insult her,” to a Rhode Island professor and the 17 students taking his “Inauguration 2009″ political science course at Bryant University.

The Post also joins the congressional inauguration committee in offering video of the inaugural stage’s construction and even goes a step further, offering a live webcam of the action — begging the question, What action?! But I digress.

There’s something for everyone, it seems, in this unfolding story of Inauguration ’09. Add your links to the mix using the comments section below.

Amanda Hirsch
Amanda Hirsch
Amanda Hirsch is former editorial director of PBS Interactive.
  • Ann

    FOREIGNID: 18182
    Does anybody else feel the inauguration is excessively expensive and dangerous? Does anybody else feel the hotel stay was excessively expensive and unnecessary? Does anybody else wonder how many presidents have their mothes-in-law live in the White House (rent-free? on us?)? Does anybody else wonder about who should pay their taxes? I voted for Obama. The alternative was worse, but I have a sinking feeling about this…

  • Anonymous

    FOREIGNID: 18183
    Are you serious – his mother-in-law staying in the whitehouse excessive? Armies of gov. employees and lawyers that do nothing all day is excessive. LOL
    As for dangerous – is this not why we have trained secret service and all these resources? As for the expense how can you put a price tag on history?
    So I guess, no I do no think this is dangerous or excessive – its exactly what this country needs.

  • Marilyn

    FOREIGNID: 18184
    You may use HTML tags for style and links.
    Does anyone know of live streaming on the net for the inauguration? I know CNN is doing it through Facebook – but I can’t seem to use my password to enter it. Is anyone else offering it??? I want my 5th grade students to experience it live.
    Marilyn – a teacher in Wyoming who is a DEMOCRAT !!!!!

  • Edward

    FOREIGNID: 18185
    This is truly a wonderful moment in history. We have lived in the shadow of incompentence for eight long years. Now, we will emerge back in the sunshine of reason, science, and hope.
    California is watching!

  • http://www.creativedc.org Amanda

    FOREIGNID: 18186
    Marilyn, so sorry I didn’t see your comment sooner – The NewsHour and NPR partnered to offer a feed. I’m sure it was streaming on C-SPAN as well, among other places – I hope you found something!
    The PBS Engage blog has links to some images and video from the day – check it out here: