Malcolm In Cyberspace

Malcolm A. Smith

May 07, 2009

The Daily Politics
By Elizabeth Benjamin

Here's the welcome video featured on the Senate's spiffy new Website, which Majority Leader Malcolm Smith is unveiling this morning.

The press conference, which is taking place at 250 Broadway, is being streamed live here. I've been getting countdown texts on my cell phone for several days now.

Smith just said he's betting the Senate is going to have the best Website in the country. An Internet smackdown!

The new site will have lots of bells and whistles and will include what is known as "crowdsourcing."

Making better use of the Internet is intended to be a hallmark of Smith's tenure as leader and a way for him to make good on his pledge to make the Senate more transparent and user-friendly under Democratic control.

To that end, Smith has brought on a whole team of techies who are netroots-savvy, including: Phillip Anderson (director of new media communications, formerly a writer with The Albany Project), Brian Keeler (director of communications, veteran Democratic operative and a former Senate candidate), and Andrew Hoppin (chief information officer).

The majority is stressing that this is the entire Senate's Website, not just something being done to promote and benefit the Democratic majority. There are photos and videos of Senate Republicans on the site, although the Democrats are featured a bit more prominently. But that stands to reason. They are in control, after all.

All 62 senators received the same training on the site and have the same tools and resources, I'm told, and Senate Minority Leader Dean Skelos was offered a role in the welcome video. He declined.