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Meet the Mind Behind Barack Obama’s Online Persona

You’ve most definitely seen it by now. Michelle Obama, wearing a red-and-white checkered dress, stands with her back to the camera. Her arms are wrapped around her husband, the hints of a smile lingering on the edges of his lips. “Four more years,” reads the text, which was posted on the Obama campaign’s social media accounts around 11:15pm on election night‚ just as it became clear the president had won a second term. 

The photo, taken by campaign photographer Scout Tufankjian just a few days into the job, pretty much won the internet: 816,000 retweets, the most likes ever on Facebook; thousands of reblogs on Tumblr. And yet it wasn’t chosen by the president’s press secretary, or even a senior-level operative, but by 31-year-old Laura Olin, a social media strategist who’d been up since 4am. For the first time since the campaign ended, she talked to Tumblr, in partnership with The Daily Beast, about what it’s like being the voice of the President — where millions of people, and a ravenous press, await your every grammatical error.

So how does it actually work, being the voice of the President? Who makes the decisions about what to post?

All of our decisions were made in-house — in Chicago, mostly — so we weren’t getting direct directives from the White House or anything. But we tried as much as possible to have voices for each account, so depending on the message — because we had all these channels — we had an appropriate place to put it. Obviously some stuff was sufficiently huge so that it went everywhere, but as much as possible we tried to tailor the message for the channel and the audience.

It must be daunting.

It was kind of terrifying, actually. My team ran the Barack Obama Twitter handle, which I think was probably most susceptible to really embarrassing and silly mistakes. We didn’t ever really have one, which I still can’t believe we pulled off.

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Sandy on Tumblr: Beating the Hurricane Blues

The disaster wrought by Hurricane Sandy on the East Coast dwarfs anything most of us have ever experienced. But the response to that disaster from the community has humbled and gratified those of us who work at Tumblr. We want to recognize a few of the people and organizations doing amazing work related to Sandy, and we want to make it clear the credit for that work rests entirely with them. Obviously this is just a tiny fraction of the massively diverse and positive response; for more, be sure to check out the Hurricane Sandy tag, and check back for ongoing coverage on Storyboard.

Cool Tumblrs Doing Cool Things

NOLA to New York - Survivors of Hurricane Katrina share messages of hope with New Yorkers affected by Sandy, and ask for your submissions.
• Dr. Dave Ores - A doctor on Manhattan’s Lower East Side providing free medical services to his stormstruck neighbors, among other humanitarian acts.

The Moosehead - Photographer Nathan Hoang has some amazing pre-/during/post-Sandy shots.
Is Twitter Wrong? - A mini-Snopes that’s done a lot of yeoman work disproving various fake “news” photos of menacing weather, storm damage, etc.
Momofuku - The NYC restaurant powerhouse is hosting three events today in various locations to benefit the Red Cross.
Pith - The prolific Jesse Chan-Norris has produced some of the most immediate and amazing storm photos to come out of New York, bar none. If you’ve been on Tumblr this week, it’s almost guaranteed you’ve seen his work.
Change.org - Publicizing services and circulating a number of petitions and initiatives to benefit those affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Humans of New York - Our pal Brandon Stanton is of course out on the streets photographing his fellow New Yorkers with the usual aplomb and care.
Jen Bekman Projects - Donating proceeds from particular artworks to hurricane relief.
Shapeways - The 3D printing company blogged their efforts of getting back together post-Sandy.
Casey Neistat - Photog and avid biker, combining both passions for some unique photos & video of Sandy in New York.
Scott’s Pizza Journal - Very Important: Where can you still get a slice in NYC?

Hurricane Sandy Tumblrs

Working from Home During Sandy - The staff of Bonobos doing business outside the office.
Hurricane Sandy Blog - A dedicated Tumblr from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management.
Sandy Hates Books - Cleanup and fundraising for the Sandy-damaged powerHouse Arena bookstore and event space.
Surviving Hurricane Sandy in Zone A - Two guys, their cameras, and a typical neverending quest for battery charging, food, and/or beer.
Governor - Rebuilding a restaurant in New York’s DUMBO neighborhood savaged by Sandy.
Lydia Callis’ Face for NYC Mayor - Devoted to the adoration of Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s on-camera American Sign Language interpreter (see also).

Media Tumblrs

WNYC’s Transmitter - Like the radio station, WNYC’s Tumblr has stayed up thanks to listener/reader support. They’ve turned in excellent coverage and service alerts before, during, and after the storm.
The Atlantic - Tying in hurricane stories from the Atlantic’s main site, plus the Atlantic Wire and the Tumblr community generally.
The Daily - News Corp’s iPad mag putting some of their best storm content on their Tumblr as well.
Gawker - The flagship of Gawker Media (and its various siblings) moved backup sites to Tumblr after their datacenter was flooded, and their storm coverage and editorial style are a natural fit.
BuzzFeed - Also temporarily housing their newsgathering on Tumblr post-flood, BF farmed out a wide range of coverage and collection via their subject-oriented Tumblrs as well as their staffers’ blogs — notably Scott Lamb, Ryan Broderick, and Andrew Kaczynski.
Mother Jones - Mixing in activism and local storm response with national news and politics

Storyboard Features

• Pizza That Never Sleeps (Even in a Hurricane) - A profile of Lombardi’s pizzeria, which stayed open all throughout the aftermath of the storm. 
• Scenes from the Recovery Effort - An ongoing portrait series by photojournalist Benjamin Lowy, who shoots exclusively on an iPhone camera.

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