Last week, I compared my research habits with my daughter’s, commenting that while she is used to looking everything up in the encyclopedia, I rely solely on Wikipedia and online searches.  Well, it turns out that I am not the only one that has traded in the experience of using a dictionary for instant gratification on the web.

Tonight, President Obama’s State of the Union Address is going to be presented slightly differently than in the past.  There will not only be an online broadcast of the annual speech, but also an interactive aspect on the White House’s website with background information and quick stats in an attempt to keep viewers informed and engaged.  An article on ExecutiveGov explains, “The features promise to be interactive, informative and experience-enhancing and hope to answer any questions the viewers may have during the president’s address to Congress.”

Obama is known for his use of social media, and many suggest that his victory in the 2008 election was a direct result of his involvement and interaction with constituents via Twitter and Facebook.  He has a clear understanding of the value that these tools can provide, and uses them to bring politics to those who normally would not be aware or involved.

By pushing the State of the Union Address out over these new channels, Obama is making politics more accessible to younger voters, and encouraging an interactive, and some may say more democratic, environment.  TV is an extremely one-way channel in which viewers are passive consumers of information.  However, the online community that the Obama administration has created around the State of the Union Address is encouraging viewers to submit questions for Obama and senior officials to answer via live online events.

All of these efforts are not only helping educate the general public, but it also is including them in politics, an aspect of our country that many often feel very separated from.  Luckily, Obama is bringing the government into the 21st century and attempting to include more citizens by offering online explanations and background on what is being discussed in his speech.

How will you interact with the State of the Union Address tonight?