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At Obama's urging, USA.gov goes for young whippersnappers with a YouTube contest

February 22, 2010 |  4:52 pm

In between episodes of "SpongeBob SquarePants" and Jonas Brothers records, the Obama administration's federal government is hoping the young ones hop on their Internet-connected iPods or netbooks, and surf to USA.gov.

To promote the website directory, USA.gov is offering $2,500 to whomever submits the most creative and entertaining video about how USA.gov has benefited them.

The site contains sections tailored to specific ages and demographics -- kids, teens, parents, seniors etc. Those pages are broken down into specific topics.

Teens can learn about bad-weather driving techniques, how to calculate their school grade-point average and bicycle safety. Hot topics in the "kids" category include the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the Almosaurus. So, that's what kids are talking about on the playgrounds these days.

USA.gov is much like the curated Yahoo Web directory of the early days of the Internet. In other words, it's not the most cutting-edge idea.

David McClure, associate administrator for the Office of Citizen Services and Community, recorded the video (embedded above), which asks others to record their own videos. Dressed in a suit and tie and sporting a mild hint of enthusiasm, he asks that before recording your 30- to 90-second video, you "take a look around" the site. Probably a good place to start.

“We’re capitalizing on the YouTube generation’s propensity for sharing and creativity to engage the public in a fun and unique way," McClure said in a statement. He goes onto say that "thousands of people" go to the site daily but doesn't mention how many thousands.

The contest was announced Monday, but it hasn't exactly blown up to Jonas-like proportions. Less than 400 people had watched McClure's video by Monday afternoon, and only six people joined the YouTube group to express interest in maybe submitting a video some day, who knows, perhaps.

Kids, you have until April 2 to embarrass yourself in a public, online forum. And if you're the only one who submits a video, those are pretty good odds at winning the $2,500.

-- Mark Milian

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