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Obama Inauguration a Web-Wide Affair

Washington D.C. at the Obama inauguration
Washington D.C. crowds on the mall for the Obama inauguration.
Source: Reuters
So you don't want to tangle with the record crowds in Washington to catch a glimpse of the inauguration of the 44th President of the United States?

Not a worry -- the Web's got you covered.

The Internet has played a key role in covering all the recent events that warrant the term "media blitz" -- from the Super Bowl to the Olympics to the presidential campaign. But today's inauguration of Barack Obama as the United State's 44th President is raising the bar even higher.

Of course, news heavyweights like the New York Times and broadcasters such as CBS will be streaming live coverage of the inauguration on their Web sites.

CNN is going a step farther. The news network has struck a partnership with social-networking giant Facebook to stream inauguration coverage on its site. The video feed appears on the left side of a split-screen window, allowing you to interact with your Facebook friends on the right.

As of this writing, more than 1.2 million Facebookers had signed up to view the feed.

CNN has also joined forces with Microsoft to enhance its inaugural coverage. Using Microsoft's Photosynth product, software that combines a series of photos into a 3-D panorama, CNN is looking to create a grand photographic retrospective of the occasion from images submitted by its viewers. The Photosynth experiment, part of the cable network's iReport citizen-journalism project, aims to "capture the most detailed experience of a single moment ever," to be presented on a special page on its Web site.

Of course, for the 1 million-plus folks thronging the parade route and the National Mall, submitting those images in real time could be a problem. The Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) has warned that wireless networks could be overwhelmed to the point where text messages and pictures might have a hard time getting through.

Some online video hubs have partnered with news networks to deliver online coverage of the event. Hulu, a joint venture of NBC Universal and News Corp., is live-streaming Fox News' inaugural coverage. Another video site, Joost, is airing CBS News' coverage.

YouTube, the kingpin of online video, is not offering live coverage of the inaugural ceremonies, but it has plenty of other content to mark the occasion. The Google-owned site has partnered with C-Span to compile videos of every president's inaugural address dating back to Franklin Roosevelt's in 1933, available through its home page.

YouTube will post video of today's swearing-in ceremonies shortly after they conclude, capping off a frenzied two-year presidential campaign which saw users post, share and mash up hundreds of thousands of politically-themed videos.

YouTube also has a channel dedicated to the inauguration, which currently features videos themed around the call to service Obama made yesterday in observance of the birthday of Martin Luther King.

The official site of the Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC) is offering live-streaming of the inaugural ceremonies and this evening's neighborhood inaugural ball.

The PIC has also set up a Twitter feed with information on the ceremonies, as well as a Flickr page.

Even the Senate's getting in on the action, with its own live video feed.

Additionally, the site contains event information, such as weather updates, items prohibited at the swearing-in ceremony (backpacks, umbrellas, signs, strollers, etc.) and the menu and recipes for the Senate's honorary luncheon.