By Anna Fiorentino
When Alexander Heffner was a student at Phillips Academy in Andover, he cofounded Scoop08, an online student newspaper that contained student observations on the presidential race.
Heffner, now a freshman at Harvard University, is part of an entire generation that has come to expect its political information dot-com style.
When Barack Obama takes the oath of office Tuesday, more people than ever before will be watching the proceedings on the Web. Especially since the inauguration will air during the workday.
"There are a lot of people who are going to be captivated by the entire day, and a lot of them are not going to be able to have a television set in the office, or have access to a television," said Sean McManus, CBS News president. The online coverage "has a much higher priority than it has in the past," he said.
So it should come as no surprise that the organizers of the 56th presidential inauguration are pulling out all the interactive stops. This year, for the first time, the Presidential Inaugural Committee has opted to stream Obama's Inaugural Ball live via webcast to computers of all sizes — even iPhones — making it the most accessible swearing-in in history.
On Tuesday, people will be able to stop by online cafes to hang out and react to the inauguration coverage. Others will plug away on their keyboards, reacting to the coverage faster than you can say "blogosphere."
"The inauguration could be the single most recorded moment in history," said New Hampshire-based new media mogul John Herman. "People will be recording with their cameras, phones, uploading to personal Web sites and blogs, YouTube and iReport (a user-generated site created by CNN)."
CNN.com will have four live streams and also allow Facebook users to connect through its site. The Associated Press will stream the inauguration on its Online Video Network, which distributes the news agency's acclaimed video content to about 2,000 United States media organizations. The Eagle-Tribune's Web site, eagletribune.com, will pick up the AP feed.
Meanwhile, ABC will offer online archived speeches of past presidents, and the Fox News and MSNBC Web sites will stream the inauguration live online. Jim Lehrer's PBS inaugural coverage will also be accompanied by Web site forums where voters can pose questions.
Of course, you don't need to be a conglomerate to have a Web site.
Locally, where it all began in New Hampshire, new media leaders like Herman will provide their own Web commentary on the inauguration.
On Monday night, Herman will be live casting an event called "Bush Bash" at The Blue Mermaid in Portsmouth, N.H. Tuesday night he'll perform comedy and live casting at "The End of an Error" celebration at The Press Room in Portsmouth.
"Wherever people are, they will be capturing history," Herman said. "Historians of the future will be able to experience events like these from so many angles and perspectives."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Where to watch the inauguration
Television coverage of the inauguration has expanded to almost every network, including PBS, Nickelodeon, QVC, BET, TV One, The Disney Channel, C-SPAN, PBS, CBS, NBC, FOX-TV, and HBO. Online coverage will be provided by C-SPAN, Fox News, PBS, The NY Times, CNN Live, Channel 3 News, MSNBC, and Hulu, among others.
Lawrence composer writes score for BET inauguration special
On Tuesday at 8 p.m. on BET, a news special about the inauguration will air to a musical score by Lawrence-based composer Jose Luis Arias of Ill Vibes Publishing, BMI.
"I started working on it about a month ago," he said.
Arias is also credited with producing hip hop background music last spring on a Yo! MTV Raps, 20th Anniversary special, and on BET on Election Day last year for celebrity commentary about Obama by Busta Rhymes and Jim Jones.