Thursday, February 26, 2009

The most technically savvy use of PHP in government award goes to...

A MP3 drum roll plays in the background, digital camera lights flashing all over, YouTube video camera rolling, and as the twitter volume starts to explode… for what is the first ELE award in government to ever be awarded (ELE stands for Enterprising Leverage of elePHPant technology, aka "super-powered by PHP" — the award is pronounced “elly!”) – and the excitement is simply electrifying here. It is award season after all and from the Oscars to the Golden Globes shows, the crowd has only just been warmed up for this online one. As the email envelope is struggled to be opened… the presenter continues chatting on Skype... "And the winner is?" … pause … then a longer pause … and then an even longer pause for that extra percentage of traffic on twitter and advertising revenue:

And the winner of the 2009 ELE is … President Barack Obama and his team at political social network sites on FACEBOOK and MY.BARACKOBAMA.COM for the most technically savvy use of open source and PHP in government ever!

Obama’s presidential campaign was praised for being one of the most technically savvy and what most people don't realize, was that a lot of their technology was powered by PHP:

  • On, Obama's own social network powered by PHP, 2 million profiles were created

  • In addition, 200,000 offline events were planned

  • About 400,000 blog posts were written

  • And more than 35,000 volunteer groups were created - at least 1,000 of them on Feb. 10, 2007, the day Obama announced his candidacy

  • Obama has gained 5 million supporters in third party social networks.

  • On Facebook (a PHP powered site also), where about 3.2 million (during the campaign) signed up as his supporters, a group called Students for Barack Obama was created in July 2007.

  • It was so effective at energizing college-age voters that senior aides made it an official part of the campaign the following spring.

  • And Facebook users did vote: On Facebook's Election 2008 page, which listed an 800 number to call for voting problems, more than 5.4 million users clicked on an "I Voted" button to let their Facebook friends know that they made it to the polls.

"It doesn't matter if you're a Republican or a Democrat, if you care about how technology has changed campaigning, you watched what they were doing," said Mindy Finn, who worked on President Bush's eCampaign team in 2004 and supervised Mitt Romney's online strategy.

There is a presentation being offered at the Boston PHP User Group in April called "Lessons from" presented by the creators at Blue State Digital. Both Josh King and Chuck Hagenbuch will share their experiences building and scaling some of the tools which powered and the millions of phone calls and over a billion emails that helped make history this year. I plan to attend this meeting on April 1st and deliver the ELE award in person to both Josh and Chuck. Mark Zuckerberg and Chris Hughes from Facebook will be contacted by our HQ in Zend’s California office for his award. If anyone from the Obama organization would contact me and let me know how I can deliver Pres. Obama's award in person, I would be honored to meet the most technically savvy president in history. Send email to

In one of his first official acts as president, Obama ordered more government openness and transparency. In an excerpt from his memo:

"Information maintained by the federal government is a national asset. My administration will take appropriate action, consistent with law and policy, to disclose information rapidly in forms that the public can readily find and use. Executive departments and agencies should harness new technologies to put information about their operations and decisions online and readily available to the public."

From another Obama speech in 02/2007: "Let us be the generation that reshapes our economy to compete in the digital age. Let's set high standards for our schools and give them the resources they need to succeed. Let's recruit a new army of teachers, and give them better pay and more support in exchange for more accountability. Let's make college more affordable, and let's invest in scientific research, and let's lay down broadband lines through the heart of inner cities and rural towns all across America.”

And already in the first 100 days there is a US stimulus bill that pushes e-health records for all medical records online, read more. So congratulations to the entire Obama campaign team for your win and using PHP to make so much impact in politics via web technology. After all it is the people that use tools like the hammer and nail that will rebuild america, and you used PHP to implement your creative digital ideas on the information highway. You needed your ideas built fast, low cost but built well and that's why you picked PHP (it can be the nail gun when you're rebuilding on the information highway)

He's not the only one in government making big changes with open source and PHP, here's a great audio podcast from 2006 of someone I admire in government Tim Vaverchak (Director of Open Source Strategy) at the Commonwealth of MASS IT (ITD) when he began to use LAMP a bit over 2yrs ago. Contact me if you know of other great PHP examples in government, I am always eager to learn more and as I live near the North East Corridor Amtrak line in Princeton, NJ, I am close to Washington DC. My email will accept all invitations from the oval office as well as your office :-)

My Research Articles:

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As you read this article, click here for audio of a band I first saw in a small club in NYC in late 90's


Edward Kietlinski said...

I'm sure there are others who should also be recognized for this ELE award, feel free to leave your comment.

Edward Kietlinski said...

I probably should also explain why the award is a blue elePHPant. No, it’s not political at all, no relation to the GOP, or the Democrats either. Do a Google search for "elePHPant" and you'll get thousands of hits about this symbol of openness in coding with PHP. Notice the PHP in the center of the blue animal and the spelling? From the mind of Vincent Pontier creator of the blue elePHPant:

"It's now been almost 10 years... indeed!
“After having trampled on your HTTP headers, invaded your hard disks, and settled in every page footer, the elePHPant will now find a new home in your bedrooms, on top of your screens, or below your inner mirrors!

“No, you are not dreaming. Just like Tux (the penguin) and other mascots from Open Source, you'll be able to adopt a real elePHPant, and possibly give one as a nice surprise to your fellow developers.

“Yet, I have a word of caution: don't kid yourself, this is not a toy! This is first and foremost a special partner for every PHP coder. Trouble with sessions? Bug in a class? A crashing method? Don't worry! Just tell your elePHPant the problem, and he will give you the solution and if the solution isn’t worth it, you can throw him at the wall (just kidding, no emails from stuffed animal rights people, please!) :-) And with your elePHPant with you, at home or at large, you'll be stealing the show!

“Again, many thanks to Damien, for this exciting project, that will be special to the hearth of PHP aficionado worldwide.
And don't forget to send us the picture of your elephant ! This will be for the family scrapbook!”

Patryk said...

Hi Ed, in the podcast you listed from 2006 with Tim from ITD; I was the "Patryk" that was mentioned without a last name. I didn't give my last name only because it's very long and hard to pronounce. I was on Tim's Open Source team.
I'm writing now, because you've mentioned my current employer; Blue State Digital. I'll be there at the Boston PHP Group in April with Chuck and Josh (for support, once again).

It's great to hear people supporting/appreciating the work that Tim's been doing at the state (likewise the recognition of BSD's hard work with the Obama campaign).

Edward Kietlinski said...

So is my name Patryk, so too is mine long and hard to spell :-) Looking forward to meeting up with you and the Blue State Digi team. When I was just a newbie at my current employer Zend, I called Chuck my first month here to introduce myself, since Chuck was a Zend veteran and he lived on the east coast like I did. But I never had the opportunity to face to face since he was busy working on projects, etc am looking forward to talking with you all in Apr.

Edward Kietlinski said...

another famous Government PHP site WEATHER.GOV aka National Oceanic and Atmospheric Admin (NOAA)

Edward Kietlinski said...

More then 16,100,000 Government PHP pages and sites have been indexed by GOOGLE and that's only a portion of the sites on the internet as we Webmasters know you can easily hide the fact that your site is PHP based to simplify URLs and get better indexing on GOOGLE. Since a majority of the PHP do this, it will not show in the following search:

Google search for PHP + GOV

Edward Kietlinski said...

"Open source President"

So just how receptive will the 44th President will be to the idea of a implementing the workings of a new government around open standards? Mr Obama has promised an open and transparent government already.

OSI president Michael Tiemann.
"It's an accident of history that proprietary standards became so entrenched so early and it's been a colossal expense for government."

"The concept of open source is going to become an undercurrent to almost everything this administration does," declared the OSI's Tiemann.

"The American concept of democracy is not just of the people and by the people but with the people."

He said we have already seen a commitment to this open philosophy throughout President Obama's election campaign.[referring to LAMP based site]

"I think what we will see now is a maturation in America and around the world of an understanding of the open source model."

Mr Tiemann said while some departments already use open source technologies, overall it has been estimated that the global loss due to proprietary software is "in excess of $1 trillion a year."

He claimed that the conservative cost for the US is from " $400bn (£290bn) and upwards."

"A move to open source will lower costs and increase capability," said Mr Tiemann who is also the vice-president of Red Hat, the world's leading open source technology solutions provider.

"This is the kind of change we need if we are ever going to see the government reform its operational capabilities and cost basis. If they fail to do this, it's one more stick in the mud. The capital markets are telling us today we can no longer afford much more status quo," he stated.

The Open Solutions Alliance has said the present economic downturn "will lead to an increase in adoption of open solutions due to their flexibility, scalability and value."

Edward Kietlinski said...

another new PHP site by Obama administration is based on Drupal is RECOVERY.GOV the site that give "transparent economic information" about all the bailouts. I'm not a fan of all these bailouts but on the flip side, I'm not a fan of an economic crash either. Offering transparency about how the money is being used is one step better then having blank checks in the hands of government agencies. Good job Drupal, this isnt the only High Profile customer you have running in a PHP Portal, I'll talk about some others in future posts.


Edward Kietlinski said...

Ask the President Website by Washington Times and The Nation newspaper looks to be a PHP site also. Its a new site that lets users submit questions and then vote on the questions they’d like to see asked. The most highly voted questions will then be given to a credentialed journalist, who will ask the most appropriate one if given the opportunity.

Edward Kietlinski said...

WASHINGTON - More than half of U.S. adults used the Internet to participate in the 2008 election — the first time that threshold has been crossed, according to a study released Wednesday.

Some 55 percent searched for political news online, researched candidate positions, debated issues or otherwise participated in the election over the Internet, the Pew Internet and American Life Project found.

New forms of Internet communication such as blogs, social-networking sites like Facebook and video-sharing sites played a prominent role, the nonprofit group said. Among its findings:

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45 percent of Internet users watched online videos related to politics or the election;

33 percent of Internet users shared political content with others;

52 percent of those on a social network used it for political purposes.
The Internet has grown steadily as a source of political news since 2000, when 11 percent of voters went online to keep up with political developments. That figure now stands at 26 percent. Among young voters and those with broadband connections the Internet has eclipsed traditional media like television, radio and newspapers, the survey found.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama used the Internet to mobilize an army of volunteers that helped him defeat Republican John McCain in the November 4 election.

Obama supporters tended to be more engaged online than McCain backers, the study found. While 26 percent of Obama supporters active on the Internet posted their own thoughts or other content in an online forum, only 15 percent of McCain-backing Internet users participated, for example.

The nonprofit group surveyed 2,254 adults between November 20 and December 4, 2008. The survey has a margin of error of 2 percentage points.

Edward Kietlinski said...

Separating the men from the boys' in Gov 2.0

Everyone knows the internet is critical to getting elected nowadays, especially after it played a crucial role in President Obama’s success. But you need to do more than just throw up a Facebook page and a Twitter account, said Obama campaign advisor/Twitter investor Chris Sacca (pictured on the left). At last night’s Startup2Startup event on “Government 2.0,” Sacca told the crowd that politicians shouldn’t just think of online social networking tools as “yet another proxy for advertising.” etc....

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