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Inside the Most Open and Participatory Administration in History

Since day one, President Obama has always worked to make 1600 Pennsylvania and this Administration as open and accessible as possible, to keep pace with the changing ways we connect with each other, and to invite the American public to be a part of his Presidency, reaching people where the conversation is already happening online.

The State of the Union and Big Block of Cheese Day

The State of the Union Address is the President’s most important speech of the year. Since 2011, the White House has made the address accessible to more people and used it to kickstart conversations between the Administration and the American people on the challenges ahead. In 2011, the White House first aired a live enhanced stream of the President’s State of the Union Address, complete with charts and stats to help Americans better understand key points. In 2014, the Administration hosted the first-ever virtual “Big Block of Cheese Day,” during which dozens of White House officials took to social media for a day long ‘open house’ answering questions in real-time on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Instagram and via Google+ Hangout.

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We the People: A New Way to Petition Your Government

Launched in September of 2011, We the People was a new way to digitally petition the government. Using the platform, anybody could create a petition, gather support, and – if they reached a defined number of signatures – receive a response directly from Administration officials. Over the course of President Obama’s administration, hundreds of thousands of petitions were launched and millions of signatures were collected – some of these efforts resulting in real change. Often, petitions resulted in ongoing engagement with the White House, with petitioners being invited to online hangouts and in person conversations with Administration officials.

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South by South Lawn: A White House Festival of Ideas, Art, and Action

In March 2016, President Obama traveled to South by Southwest® for a conversation on civic engagement. In Austin, he called on creative thinkers and entrepreneurs from across the country to help tackle our toughest challenges. In October 2016, the White House celebrated that spirit of innovation at the first-ever South by South Lawn, a White House festival of ideas, art, and action. At SXSL, we celebrated the inspiring work that so many Americans have already accomplished - called on everyone to roll up their sleeves and discover their own way to make a positive difference in our country.

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Read more about President Obama's digital firsts

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