May 11th, 2010
By James P. Pinkerton, FOXNews
nice iPod, too bad you can’t use it
Remember that cranky old relative, or neighbor, who told you to stop listening to crazy stuff, or to stop wasting so much time on computers? Of course you remember such a person–because they were and are everywhere. On the other hand, no doubt you also had relatives, and neighbors, and teachers, who encouraged you to try new things and think new thoughts–and that’s good, because, let’s face it, new technology is the lifeblood of our economy, and better communication is the key to our functioning democracy.
But one way or the other, we all grew up with someone who said that everything new was a bad idea. Well, now, those cranky curmudgeons have been joined by the president of the United States. He, too, thinks that new technology is dangerous, especially if it means you will pay less attention to official news.
Yup, this is the same Barack Obama who, in 2008, was the high-tech candidate of cool, whose campaign built a list of 13 million people, many of whom were “Friends of Barack” on Facebook and other cutting-edge websites. Indeed, two years ago, it seemed that in Obama we would finally get a President who was truly in tune with the rhythms of social-networking, Tweeting, and videogaming.
Sigh. That hope was so 2008. On Sunday, in a commencement speech to Hampton University in Virginia, Obama vented his anti-technology spleen to a bunch of 20-somethings, who must have been amazed at what they were hearing from the presidential podium: “With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations–none of which I know how to work–information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation.” The president really doesn’t know how to work an iPod? More than 250 million have been sold around the world since 2001–and the 44th president can’t figure out how to use one?
And this is supposed to be the government that is going to overhaul federal broadband rules, and supervise the digitalization of all our medical records? Other tech challenges loom ahead, too, from figuring out homeland security intelligence to capping leaking oil wells. Maybe now we know why those efforts aren’t going so well.