On January the 20th, 2009, we coordinated a massive journalistic project to document Barack Obama's inauguration. More than 100 observers from around the world sent in detailed chronicles that documented the small scenes and seeming trivialities of the day. Predictability and punditry defined most of the media coverage of Obama's inauguration. By asking observers to notice minutiae instead of the dominant storyline, we hoped to cut through the reigning culture of staid soundbites with a revealing and surprising narrative. Thanks to an unexpectedly diverse and talented group of observers—1st graders in Colorado, a U.S. Army officer near Tikrit, a Kenyan journalist in Kisumu, to name just a few—we think the project exceeded its goals.
To view all of our observations you can CHECK OUT THE COMPLETE COMPILATION below or you can search the ARCHIVES by word or region on the LEFT SIDEBAR.
We took our inspiration from the Mass Observation movement, a group of 1930s British intellectuals who believed the most revealing way to document an event was to report the peripheral activities surrounding it. You can read more about the original Mass Observers by clicking on Our Predecessors.