Obama to Grads: iPod Proficiency Not Needed to Be President
Remember all that talk about President Obama's Blackberry addiction prior to him taking office last year? Well, while his campaign may have been high-tech, the commander-in-chief himself, by his own admission, is not. He may be hooked on his Blackberry, but that's apparently where Obama's gadget lust ends. At least that's what he told students this weekend during commencement at Hampton University, a historically black college in Virginia.
After proclaiming that all American children deserve a college education, which will prepare them to be career-ready in the modern world (video of that part of the speech below), the president warned the graduating students to avoid newfangled electronic devices because they are founts of misinformation:
You're coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don't always rank that high on the truth meter. And 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. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it's putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.
Winners: The folks at Research in Motion, creators of the Blackberry, and Amazon—whose smartphones and Kindles, respectively—avoided the president's wrath. Losers: Apple, Microsoft, Sony, as well as all the proud parents in the crowd who just bought one of the devices maligned by Obama as graduation presents for their real world-bound kids.
It's true that there's a lot of information out there, and that, these days, much of it is not properly vetted. But, all of these kids are still going to own computers and televisions that will bathe them in an unending stream of good and bad content. And, honestly, should the iPod be on this list? Is music really that hurtful? Is Glenn Beck podcasting now?
The Atlantic Wire has a roundup of various tech sites reacting to Obama's comments. They criticize him for offering "bad advice" and deciding "that digital distraction is a political issue," while ignoring the many current quandaries we, as a country, find ourselves in.
I'm curious to see whether Obama has to tack back on this one. Tech-savviness certainly is a requirement in the flattened world. Isn't it?