EXECUTIVE BRANCH

The White House now has a director of product

America’s executive branch continues to build out its digital organization. Today, former Facebook product manager Josh Miller announced that he is joining the White House as its first director of product.

What does that mean, exactly? Miller explains in a blog post:

The White House has many digital products – from WhiteHouse.gov to the We the People Petition site. It’s a dream to be able to add to and improve this portfolio.

In order to do that, my plan is to lean on the product ideals that I learned during the last four years building Branch and working at Facebook. Wouldn’t it be great if your government had a conversation with you instead of just talking at you? The Obama Administration has already responded to 255 online petitions that had collectively gathered more than 11 million signatures. Imagine if talking to the government was as easy as talking to your friends on social networks? White House officials have started to regularly host Q&As on Twitter. These initiatives represent amazing progress, and there’s so much more good work to be done. I’m excited to apply what I’ve learned in the technology industry to the ideals of our democracy.

While it’s tempting to see this as some sort of government-learning-from-Facebook conspiracy, what’s happening is probably much simpler than that.

Miller, who announced his departure from Facebook on Aug. 27, had joined the social media company in early 2014 when it acquired Branch, the digital discussion-forum startup he founded. Branch—like Miller himself—was mentored by former Twitter product head Jason Goldman, who became the White House’s chief digital officer earlier this year.

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