Unlike the last time a new President took over the West Wing, the members of President Obama’s staff came into their new offices Tuesday to find their keyboards intact — all of the O’s were still in place. But for an administration that ran a famously high-tech campaign, the keyboards may have been the only recognizable office equipment. According to the Washington Post, the Obama staffers found themselves in a technological dark age, with communication hindered by “a jumble of disconnected phone lines, old computer software, and security regulations forbidding outside e-mail accounts.” Without tools like instant messaging and social networking, staffers may be forced to communicate the old-fashioned way. Does this mean that Obama supporters will finally stop getting emails from David Plouffe? I, for one, hope so.

However, the administration has already begun updating White House technology, using new features like the official White House blog to keep in touch. In perhaps the most surprising new development, it appears that President Obama will be able to keep his treasured BlackBerry after all. As we discussed on this blog last week, the White House security team initially feared that using a BlackBerry could put confidential communications at risk. Past presidents have not used personal email in an effort to avoid both internet hackers and judicial subpoenas. But, according to White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, President Obama’s BlackBerry will be enhanced with special protection and he will be able to email “senior staff and a small group of personal friends.”

I imagine that if all of the senior staff are able to use BlackBerries, we may not have seen the last of Mr. Plouffe.

Spencer Compton

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