Computer Literacy

I have been reading a lot of article discussing McCain’s professed ignorance of all things internets, and I’ve begun to wonder what all of you think about how important computer literacy is to being president in 2009. Though there are obvious political undertones to this question (that is, Obama can use computer and McCain, well, can’t), I am genuinely curious about how it relates to the office of the presidency.

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4 responses to “Computer Literacy

  1. polisciafterparty

    Honestly, I am not bothered by a President or Politician who is not extremely knowledgeable about the internet. The President should know how to use his Blackberry/Trio and that’s about it. Following real life examples with proper nouns excluded.

    A good friend of mine is a senior staffer with a US Senator that has been in office for 30 years. He calls his computer “the machine” and is quoted as yelling “come fix my google machine” he is aged as McCain, but is a major mover and shaker on the Hill, as is McCain. He hires fresh young blood who navigate the internet well so that he can use his precious time writing legislation and having serious meetings with politicians, instead of what me and you do here blogging about it.

    Working for a small department, of a small government, of a small city, I see that my boss has absolutely no need for a computer. He spends the day from 7 am – 7 pm in meetings and running around the city. He really has no need for an office. The support staff has plenty of need for the computer and the internet and so we do his research and “googling” for him. This is just the same for a president.

    I curse the day that a computer lands itself on the desk of the Oval Office, Buckingham Palace, or any similar office. Plus, knowing the politicians we know, being that attached to a desk would only lead the likes of some to be watching porn while the VA is sitting in front of them trying to get larger funding for retirees.

    Hopefully a president not like one of us, who is not attached to the computer, will use that time to be out among people talking, whoever that ends up being.

    Now I read some of the articles pulled and really it is silly. I don’t expect people period that are older than 30 to really know how to use computers well unless they are engrossed in them everyday. Even then, they suprise me. And it does not bother me how rich, famous, or important they are.

    -Beltway Bob

  2. polisciafterparty

    I disagree. My issue with computer illiteracy isn’t that the man won’t be able to run an office, or keep in touch, or even read emails. Though I think that an inability to use email, the internet and blackberries will an effect on how efficiently he can run his office, I think the effect is marginal and is not a disqualifying handicap for a presidential candidate. Instead, my problem is that the internet- and telecommunications broadly- will essentially determine the extent to which our economy thrives in the 21st century. We are already woefully behind countries like Japan and Hong Kong, whose broadband wireless networks not only facilitate high-tech business, but supply what is quickly becoming a public good. It is no longer acceptable that some individuals have access to the internet and some don’t in the United States. It has become so essential to education and daily life that those who lack it at home can honestly be compared to the poor prior to public libraries (when books were the best and only source of knowledge). How can we expect the president, whose office is often the originator and advocate for “big ideas”, to spearhead any national effort to address our increasingly inadequate policy in regards to the world wide web if he is fundamentally unfamiliar with what he is dealing with? We can’t.

    Also, the recent debate on net neutrality (which boils down to whether the few companies that hold America’s bandwidth will be able to control who gets onto the internet and for how much) will occur in the absence of any input from out president. As far as I can tell, McCain’s conception of the internets mirrors Ted Stevens: that it is a series of tubes.

    An understanding of the internet is an essential aspect of any coherent economic policy (to say nothing of McCain’s professed ignorance of economic issues generally), so I think it is really important for someone of the president’s position to understand the most significant aspect of the new economy on earth.

    Finally, you may not expect people over 30 to understand computers/the internet, but they’re quite the educated bunch. Even in that supposedly illiterate group, McCain is especially behind. From Salon.com:

    It has also brought up the unsavory topic of McCain’s age, with people wondering if his lack of technology skills is simply part of the “generational gap” between him and younger voters. But even in his own demographic — white, college-educated men over 65 — McCain is an outlier. According to new data from the Pew Internet & American Life Project, approximately three-quarters of this group use the Internet. “Basically, John is a technological troglodyte, and proud of it,” said former Federal Communications Commission chairman and Obama supporter Reed Hundt.

    – Legal Eagle

  3. I kind of agree with both of you. I actually doubt that the President of the United States uses the internet/a computer all that much in his daily tasks, simply because there are hundreds if not thousands of other people lined up to do any necessary googling or emailing for him. But I do think it speaks to a larger problem about just not being “with the times.” Even if you aren’t terribly computer savvy, you should at least make an attempt to understand and utilize the minimum of what is the “wave of the future.” Otherwise one wonders how a person could really lead a world that he simple doesn’t understand.

  4. Is John McCain and his campaign force out of touch? I recently received a piece of mail from them, the front was emblazoned with the words “Important Telegram From John McCain”.

    I picture someone at McCain headquarters tapping on one of those old fashioned telegraph keys. It’s the 21st Century, Senator. You could increase your funding if you just accepted there’s an internet, now.

    On a somewhat unrelated note, McCain’s website has become somewhat comical, lately, what with “Obama Fan Club”, and the “Obama Tire Gauge” …

    http://www.johnmccain.com/HomeLogged.aspx

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