Thursday, September 4, 2008

President Unplugged

Lee Gomes of the WSJ is my new muse.

After reading his misguided rant against the Long Tail (which inspired Tuesday's post) I decided to see what other topics he had weighed in on.

Sure enough, I found some good fodder in his July 30th piece -- Note to Next President: Avoid Computers.

Think Different

Gomes argues that the president of the U.S. should not spend more than 20 minutes per day on a computer. "The severe time rationing is necessary because a computer, far from making you more productive, instead loads you down with things to do, and it's important for the machine to know who is boss."

After all, "Does anyone who spends all day in front of a PC, forging a river of data posing as information, have any time to think?"

So what does Gomes propose the leader of the free world do during his 20 minute daily allotment? "The president could use his computer time any way he wished: a favorite blog, YouTube videos, a mind-clearing game of Spider Solitaire. "

Gee, Lee, if that's how you spend your time online, no wonder you think computers make you less productive.

Carbon Copies, er... Footprint

Gomes goes on to posit that "the president wouldn't need to worry about his email inbox; a staff would be standing by ready to handle it. Memos, position papers, summaries of newspaper reports and all the rest, would be delivered via printouts, since words on printed paper appear to have more of an impact than words on a flickering screen."

Besides the obvious environmental concerns with printing out all the email the president gets on a daily basis (I'm sure Al Gore would have a field day with that one), I'm not convinced a computer illiterate president would be equipped to run the world's technological superpower.

Series of Tubes

How could the president possibly set policy on issues like net neutrality, digital copyright, cookie privacy or anti-competitive monopoly without an understanding of how the web works and what the difference is between an OS and an ISP or a portal and a search engine.

And beyond those issues that touch those of us in the digital marketing and media world, how could a tech neophyte be an effective commander-in-chief of an armed forces that conducts most its communications and warfare deployment electronically?

Do We Really Want our President ROTFLMAO?

Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting the president forgo meetings with heads of state in lieu of email or IM chat. ("Hey Putin - Georgia War? WTF! When R U going to pull out? LMK.")

But again, I go back to the pendulum analogy. We need a president that can speak the language of technology without being tied to it. With the constant innovation in the space, I don't think 20 minutes a day is going to cut it.

Heck, that's not even enough time to watch the videos on YouTube making fun of you.

Update 12/15: Behold the issue with politicians not understanding how to use technology... Apparently, the McCain/Palin campaign sold off Blackberries without erasing contacts and emails.

1 comment:

john said...

Aaron, I would agree that we need a president that can run the machine and not let the machine run him. But as you mentioned above it must be done so with a fair balance.

I believe that this will be a key differentiator as this election unfolds.

The one thing I question from your blog though is how you reference the US as a technological superpower. I am not quite so sure that we are. Otherwise I wouldn't care if the presidents spends 20 minutes playing solitaire on the computer before he meets with his fellow world leaders.

Please take a look at this interview here to get a better idea of what I am talking about.

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